When Aunt Flo comes to town some quality R&R (Love Island binge session and Uber Eats…) is just what your body needs, right? Wrong.
As if periods didn’t impact our lives enough, it turns out some of the things we enjoy most when it arrives, could be making your menstrual symptoms worse!
To have the healthiest, most enjoyable period (if that’s even a thing…), there are some changes gynecologist’s recommend you make for the benefit of your reproductive health in the short and long-term.
1. Lay off the coffee
Sensitive breasts? Hold back the caffeine. Studies show caffeinated beverages can contribute to increased breast tenderness during your period. Caffeine has also been found to block GABA in the brain (the “downer” neurotransmitter), which results in anxiety and increased heart rate, escalating symptoms of PMS. Instead, try decaffeinated green tea, which can help soothe cramps.
2. Don’t be lazy
Trust us, we get it – all you feel like doing is putting your feet up with a heat pack but the key to easing period symptoms is to keep moving. Many women find that exercise and the associated release of endorphins helps to lessen cramp and counteract mood swings.
3. Change, change, change
Regularly changing your pad or menstrual cup is not only essential for good hygiene but also your health. For tampons, changing every four to six hours is an important step to prevent toxic shock syndrome. While for cups, at a minimum should be changed every 12 hours and pads every three to four.
4. Avoid artificial fragrance
Often women go overboard in the shower to prevent odour. However, soaps with artificial fragrance can irritate the vagina and throw off pH balance in turn making odour worse. If you’re particularly concerned about a persistent smell ‘down there’ it’s best to consult a gynecologist as there might an infection or imbalance, which could be easily treated.
5. Cut down on salty foods
If bloating is a problem during your period the food you’re eating could be making it worse. Although it’s probably all you’re craving, salty or fried foods aren’t great for water retention because they dehydrate so your body overcompensates by stockpiling hydration.
6. Use protection
Having sex while on your period can increase the risk of contracting an STD or other infections. Some infections can be transferred by blood, such as HIV, therefore have a greater chance of being transmitted while a woman is on her period. Also word or warning: while slim, there is still always a chance you can get pregnant while menstruating.
7. Surprising tips to help combat period pain
Next time, instead of reaching for the ibuprofen and hot water bottle, why not try one of our tried-and-tested tips?
Have a bath
Soaking in a hot bath will help to ease menstrual pain. Heat therapy works by relaxing the muscles of the uterus, increasing blood flow and easing discomfort. Plus, if there’s any time you deserve some pampering and relaxation it’s now. Make bath time even more indulgent by adding a few drops of essential oil or a bath bomb.
Combine the benefits of both magnesium and bathing by adding a few cups of Epsom Salt to your next soak. Leveraging the benefits of magnesium, Epsom Salt has been used for hundreds of years as natural pain relief, particularly for relief of inflammatory conditions and muscle tenderness. It’s believed to speed up the body’s natural detoxification process. If you’re period pain is also keeping you awake at night the magnesium is Epsom Salt can promote production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. Win win! Epsom Salt is a super easy and affordable addition to consider adding to your monthly bedtime routine.
If you still find yourself reaching for a pill, consider taking a supplement. Instead of striking while the iron is hot, take a supplement every day (not just when you have your period) and you could observe more long-term results. Evening primrose oil in particular has been proven to have a pain-relieving effect for women. It’s a great anti-inflammatory for relieving bloating – but, the key is not to cease taking it when the pain subsides!
Words: Erin Berryman
Photo: Getty Images
This article originally appeared on beautyheaven.co.nz