5 Tips: How to Manage Your Period
Posted on May 29 2020
Why is it so Hard?
The first thing we need to acknowledge is that our bodies are incredible! From the first time that we menstruate to the last time, our body is processing hormones and working around the clock to make sure that we, as a human race, survive.
It really is quite amazing that without our bodies ability to menstruate, our civilization would end. While that might sound overly stated, it’s an important fact to remember when we consider all of the ways our bodies change throughout the month.
Let’s Review Some Basics
The female body goes through four phases; the menstrual phase, the follicular phase, the ovulation phase, and the luteal phase. Each of these is fascinating but for the purposes of this article, and in an effort to process our immediate needs when it comes to our periods, let’s talk about the menstrual phase, what our body is actually going through, and what, if anything, we can do to alleviate some of the discomforts.
During the menstrual cycle a healthy female will experience; cramps, tender breasts, bloating, mood swings, irritability, headaches, tiredness, and low back pain. Awful right? Because our bodies run on hormones that start in our brains, specifically in our hypothalamus (a small region in the center of the brain), and then those hormones are spread throughout the body, it’s worth acknowledging that every single part of us is affected by hormones throughout the month but especially during our periods.
Why does this happen? When your body doesn’t have a fertilized egg it discards what it would have used to nourish and grow that egg. In short, for one entire week your body is dealing with the fact that it is not pregnant and cleaning-house accordingly.
When your body cleans-house it is processing the inner lining of your uterine wall (a.k.a., the endometrium) and shedding the would-be nutrients for your would-be baby and that is what your period ‘blood’ is actually made of - excess nutrients and protective tissue. Correlation does not mean causation, but it seems fair to make a connection between losing nutrients and protective tissue and the sad-emo feelings we experience during our periods. Am I right?
So now that we’ve covered why our periods are important, and what our periods actually are, let’s talk about 5 ways to alleviate our discomfort.
5 Tips to Alleviate Our Discomfort
1. Turn Up the Heat!
Applying heat directly onto your abdomen can be a great way to ease the discomfort that comes from cramping and the general nauseating feelings that comes during our periods.
If you don’t have access to a heating pad, you can always make one by warming a bag of rice (only slightly) in the microwave, or you can take a warm bath, which has the same effect. Not only does this reduce the tension in your abdomen but it eases your entire body. Try it!
2. Massage Me, Bae
When considering how to treat cramping, let’s think about the things that we consider self-care, like massages and other spa treatments. The reason that they seem like luxuries has to do with people not really understanding what our periods do to us every month.
If there is one thing that should be part of our self-care regimen it is getting massages. Yes, massaging your cramps away is as affected as taking an ibuprofen (or other over-the-counter (OTC) treatments) but human touch goes a long way when you're also irritable, bloated or/and exhausted.
While going to a spa isn’t feasible right now, whoever you're cooped up with, should take a stab at the abdomen massage for you! This isn’t medical advice, but your welcome.
3. Water and Things
You probably already know this but all headaches have something to do with dehydration and your PMS headache is no different. During your period your body is working overtime to reset your internal clock and ovulation cycle for the next month. This means that water resources are also being used to process your blood flow. You guessed it, from day one of your period you are already working from a negative standpoint of water reserves.
Do you workout during your period? Do you drink coffee? Do you drink alcohol? Each of these things also affects your water reserves. The rule of thumb here is this, every time you go into the kitchen for a random craving, or you sit down to have a meal, or you walk outside of your house to get the mail, stop and get a glass of water. Every, single, time. That should be enough water to help yourself get through your period sans-headaches.
Also, and obviously, don’t drink coffee or alcohol (or each time you do, have two cups of water for each glass of coffee or alcohol, because math).
4. I Hate to Say It: Diet
Remember that advice from the last paragraph that emphasized the amount of water you should be drinking because of how much water your body is using? The same is true for your diet. Salty or fried foods require more water for your body to process. In exchange for that water processing, your body will retain even more water hoping to use it later on.
My point is, stay away from salty, fried, or sugary foods that require your body to do more work. Focus on foods that have a lot of water in them like cucumbers and watermelon. Leafy greens can help when your iron is low so don’t forget to grab that salad.
5. Give Yourself that Grace!
It’s really important to understand that the female reproductive system hasn’t always been understood. Being emotional was linked to words like ‘hysteria’ and ‘witchcraft’ and/or ‘crazy’. We know better than that now. We know now that emotional intelligence and emotional well being are connected to our physical health and are just as important. That said, when you snap at your significant other because they lost the remote yet again, and you might have just started your period, remember, your body is busy. Your body is busy making sure that the human race stays intact.
Great job and give yourself some grace to be as emotional as you’d like. You deserve it.
Olga Rosales Salinas
She writes about her passions; health, fitness, family and skincare. She loves Japanese products specifically because they promote holistic health and beauty lifestyles.