It’s probably no surprise that here at LOLA HQ, we love talking about our periods. I know every detail of my co-workers’ cycles, trade TMI with total strangers, and am the go-to menstrual myth buster for all the men in my life (no, women don’t use different size tampons because they have different sized vaginas).
But, just because I love talking about periods doesn’t mean I love getting my period. A five-day fiesta of cramps, bloating, period poops, and intense paranoia that I’ve bled through my tampon every time I sneeze isn’t my idea of a good time.
Thankfully, talking to every stranger I meet about their period has given me the inside scoop on the period hacks that actually work. Here are 8 things you need to know to have the easiest period of your life:
1. Be prepared: FACT: Nobody likes surprises of the period variety. Use a period tracking app to get to know your cycle. Especially if you’re irregular, tracking apps can help uncover trends about the length of your cycle, when you’re most apt to cramp, and the heaviest day of your period.
Our favorite apps? Eve uses a simple calendar format to give you 3 months of period visibility, so you can make sure to plan that romantic beach getaway sans period interruption. We also like Clue, which allows you track as much or as little data as you want. Ready to be a menstrual Macgyver? You can add in data around pain level, discharge, sex, sleep, and more.
2. Start a pre-period regimen: There’s not much you can do to relieve cramps or heavy bleeding once your period starts. So to avoid popping pain killers, prevention is key. It’s no secret that we worship at the altar of apple cider vinegar – it’s a natural substitute for almost any beauty product in your arsenal. But did you know that drinking ACV before your period can help to lessen painful cramps and give you a shorter, lighter period? Mix 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar into a cup of tea with honey, and repeat daily for the week before your period.
3. It’s supplemental, my dear Watson: Period pro Alisa Vitti explains, “Estrogen builds the lining of your uterus. If you’re eating a diet that prevents your liver from breaking down this hormone, it can build up and wreak havoc on your cycle.” Supplements like milk thistle and vitamin C are shown to even out estrogen levels and help to avoid excess build up of uterine lining in the first place.
Additionally, studies show that taking iron supplements, can help prevent anemia caused by loss of blood during menstruation. Anemia is associated with fatigue, headache, and decreases in cognitive function and mood. Trust us, you won’t miss those symptoms when they’re gone.
4. Curb your vices: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but caffeine, alcohol, excess salt, and fatty foods and can all make your period symptoms worse. Resisting your cravings can actually help to stave off cramps and bloating. If you can’t survive without your morning cup of joe (*raises hand*), make it a half-caf and try to hold off until mid-day on the crampiest day of your period.
5. Get moving: I get it, sometimes prying yourself off the couch and pausing that marathon of House of Cards feels impossible. But I promise that a vigorous workout is the best remedy for menstrual cramps. Don’t believe me? Exercise causes the release of beta-endorphins, which act as a natural pain reliever. If you can’t bear a trip to the gym, even an at-home yoga session will do some good. Twist poses are especially great for cramps and bloating.
6. Get off: If exercise is out of the question, orgasm is another great way to reduce cramping. Like with exercise, reaching orgasm triggers a release of endorphins which will naturally counteract pain, but also has the added benefit of helping to relax pelvic muscles that cause cramping in the first place. So you can feel free to get frisky, Doctor’s orders!
7. Heat things up: Fine, you’re not feeling too sexy. You can also heat things up in a whole other way. Using a heating pad or hot water bottle will also help relax the muscles that are contracting to cause cramps. No time to curl up on the couch? Adhesive one time use heating pads are a great on-the-go alternative. Pro tip: if your local store is out of menstrual heating pads, the neck, shoulder, and wrist version is basically the same thing.
8. Sleep it off: If none of this is working for you, go ahead and sleep it off. It’s not just you… it’s scientifically proven that you’re more tired during your period – increases in progesterone levels that occur in the second half of your cycle actually do make you more sleepy.
While it’s unlikely to become your favorite time of month, these hacks can help you have the best period possible! Have other tips and tricks? We’re listening. Let us know in the comments!