Do you ever sit back and wonder how exactly you survive your period each month?
Between bleeding, cramping, headaches, soreness, bloating and every other symptom of menstruation, it’s any wonder that women are able to function at all.
As cursed as you may feel, however, you can take charge of your reproductive health and make changes that will positively impact your experience each month.
The health of your reproductive system is directly linked to your overall health and not taking care of yourself can lead to issues such as infertility, irregular periods and unnecessary period-related pain.
Check out these tips if you’re ready to have a healthier period – and a happier life:
What Your Period Should Look Like
Did you know that painful and uncomfortable periods are not normal?
Women nowadays have been led to believe that we should just pop an Advil, grab a hot water bottle and accept that periods suck.
However, there is no real reason why you should suffer through your period. Issues related to your period can be addressed and fixed – mainly through lifestyle changes.
So, what should a period look like?
- Length: Bleeding should last around 3-7 days with the entire cycle taking 26-32 days.
- Color: Your period should resemble the color of cranberry juice with no clotting.
- Body: You should feel slight sensations in your uterus but not cramping.
- Mood: You should feel more uplifted during the middle of your cycle and more focused in the second half.
That looks vastly different than what most of us are used to.
To help you have a healthier and less painful period, here are some simple lifestyle changes you can make:
Increase Your Physical Activity
Getting exercise during your period is probably the last thing your body wants to do, but getting up and moving can increase your blood flow and alleviate period symptoms such as cramping and bloating.
Also, a lack of regular exercise can cause a hormonal balance in your body which can lead to irregular periods.
You don’t have to bust out a full cardio regime to have a healthier period. Incorporating more gentle movements such as walking and yoga into your daily routine can make a difference when it comes to your period.
Improve Your Sleep
Having an irregular sleep schedule, or not getting enough sleep, can have a negative impact on your menstrual cycle.
When you shift your body’s inner clock, you throw off your reproductive hormones which can influence ovulation and menstruation.
To make matters worse, your period can have an adverse effect on sleep, causing issues such as insomnia.
If you have a rough time maintaining a sleep schedule, try to establish an evening routine and get to bed at the same time each night.
If you have difficulty getting to sleep, you can try a supplement such as melatonin.
Watch What You Eat
Obesity can cause hormonal imbalances in your body that can be directly linked to your menstrual cycle. Eating a healthy and balanced diet is one way to have a healthier period.
Yes, hunger is often a symptom of menstruation, so it can be hard to keep your hand out of the cookie jar when you’re on your period.
Instead, try to eat healthy snacks such as fruits, vegetables and low-sodium foods (which will help with bloating). Focus on staying away from processed foods.
Include more protein in your diet such as fish, chicken and healthy fats (which can be found in nuts and avocados).
And, if you need a little sweet fix, have some dark chocolate. It’s a good source of magnesium which can help balance your mood.
Don’t hate me for saying this, but you should also consider avoiding or cutting back on caffeine. It can irritate your stomach and cause cramping and bloating during your period.
If you need a caffeinated pick-me-up to get through your day, try herbal teas that are lower on caffeine and have other nutritional benefits.
Reduce the Stress in Your Life
Yeah, easier said than done especially when out-of-whack hormones are making you feel crazy once a month.
However, when you are in a state of stress, your body produces cortisol. This is a hormone that can negatively affect oestrogen, a female reproductive hormone related to your menstrual cycle.
Not only can stress mess with your menstrual cycle but it can also increase the pain you experience when you’re on your period.
Previously mentioned tips such as exercising and avoiding caffeine can help reduce stress. When you’re on your period, you should also focus on your self-care.
If your stress and anxiety are unmanageable, you can always talk to your doctor about underlying causes and potential treatments and therapies.
Take Vitamin Supplements
Let me preface this suggestion by saying that you should always consult with your doctor before taking any vitamin supplements.
But as long as supplementation doesn’t interfere with any medications you are taking and your diet, you can definitely have a healthier period by trying the following:
- Chasteberry: This plant can be helpful in alleviating the physical discomforts of menstruation. You can get in capsule form, tincture or tea.
- Calcium: Calcium levels can change during your period, so ensuring you have enough in your system can help with physical and emotional symptoms.
- Vitamin B6: This vitamin can help with the psychological effects of menstruation such as moodiness, irritability and anxiety.
- Magnesium: As mentioned above, magnesium can help the discomforts of your period.
Although most of these vitamins and minerals can be taken in supplement form, you can also eat foods rich in them.
In fact, it’s recommended that you try to consume these vitamins and minerals through your diet first before resorting to a supplement.
Drink Lots of Water
When you’re on your period, water is your best friend.
It may seem counter-intuitive to put more liquid into your body when you already feel bloated and puffy, but drinking more water during your period is actually beneficial.
Your body retains water and bloats when it doesn’t feel it has enough water in its system. The more water your drink, the more excess liquid your body will expel.
The amount of water you need is unique to your body, but the general recommendation is to try and consume ten 8-ounce glasses throughout the day.
If you have a hard time getting enough water into your body (not everyone enjoys drinking it), you can try flavoring the water with frozen fruit.
Also, make water consumption more convenient by carrying a refillable bottle around with you during the day.
Have a Happy Period!
Actually, there’s nothing “happy” about having your period – but you can certainly alleviate the pain and discomfort you experience every month by making simple changes in your life.
As I mentioned above, periods aren’t supposed to be life-halting. Biologically, they are not designed to be painful and unbearable.
All of this being said, if making lifestyle changes doesn’t help your period-related discomfort, it may be time to talk to your doctor. There could be something else going on that needs to be diagnosed and medically treated.
Otherwise, I hope these suggestions will help! Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips for a healthier period.