The Almost Painless Period
About three-quarters of all women suffer through some combination of mood swings, bloating, cravings, headaches and other premenstrual syndrome (PMS) signs. And that’s just the start of it: Cramping, heavy bleeding, breast tenderness and overall discomfort can all be hallmarks of monthly periods. But you don’t have to suffer in silence. As a matter of fact, there are a variety of measures you can take throughout the month to make your period almost painless:
• Exercise. While working out during your period may be the last thing you feel like doing, the endorphins your body releases during exercise can reduce both cramps and fatigue. Get moving and stay moving regularly throughout the month, whether it’s a walk, lifting weights, swimming, yoga or cycling – anything can help.
• Evaluate your birth control options. If you haven’t updated your birth control plan in years, there has never been a better time to do so, thanks to recent health care reforms that make birth control more affordable than ever. Many types of birth control, including the Pill, IUD, patch and ring, can all make your period lighter and more comfortable, or stop it altogether.
• Cut back on caffeine. Coffee and other caffeinated make your blood vessels constrict, which can make cramps that much worse. Try herbal tea instead.
• Skip the salt. Especially during the week prior to your period, try to cut back on sodium, which can make you retain water and irritability. Likewise, cutting back on sugar and processed foods can reduce inflammation and boost your mood. And when you eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the month, you will enjoy more stable blood sugar, which can make you feel better and more satisfied throughout the day.
• But don’t skimp on sleep. While sleep is healthy no matter what day of the month it is, some extra ZZZs around your period can reduce cravings and some of the extra sensitivity that comes with PMS and periods, while increasing energy and mood levels.
• Heat up. During your period, hot pads, hot showers and hot tea can all feel good for the body and mind.
If you regularly experience particularly painful periods, talk to your doctor to rule out other issues such as ovarian cysts, fibroids, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation or endometriosis. She can also recommend vitamins and over-the-counter pain relievers to provide further relief.