It’s one of those not-so-wonderful things about being a woman – getting your period. Getting a monthly visit from Aunt Flo is just a fact of life for most women but that doesn’t mean that it’s not inconvenient and downright painful for some.
While the fact that we all ride the crimson wave from time to time is something we have in common, this, like all other health-related phenomena, is different for every woman. Some women experience a heavy period with high volume, while for others it is very light. Some don’t have any pain whatsoever, while others can be incapacitated with stomach cramps and lower back pain. Some experience the dreaded moodiness of PMS while others barely notice an emotional difference. Some only bleed for a matter of days, while others can be inconvenienced for a week or more. All of these experience, and any in between, are normal. They’re part and parcel of being a woman – just a fact of life.
There is not much we can do to avoid this monthly shedding of the uterine lining, but there are a few things we can do to make it a little bit easier.
- Warmth. This an old favorite and is popular for a reason – it works. Heating pads, hot water bottles, saunas, cuddling with the dog – any method of applying heat that works for you is helpful. It gets the blood flowing and releases tension, easing muscle cramps and pain.
- Epsom salt. Magnesium sulfate is an inorganic salt containing magnesium, sulfur and oxygen with numerous health benefits. Dissolved in a warm bath, it helps relax the muscles while reducing water retention. Coupled with the warmth of the bath this is a double whammy in the face of period pain.
- Eat less meat. Red meat contains arachadonic acids which stimulate the production of certain chemicals, called prostaglandins, which cause cramps. It may seem like it’s better to eat more red meat for the iron, but in this case skipping the steak during this time is the way to go.
- Avoid coagulant foods. Coagulant foods (such as parsley, kale, cauliflower and celery) thicken the blood and can make your period heavier.
- Cut down on histaminic foods. Histaminic foods (such as chocolate, alcohol, cheese and processed meat) can cause inflammation making your period more painful and making you feel more bloated and heavy.
- Exercise is up to you. Some women feel better when they move while others need to lie down and take it easy. Movement will make your blood pump harder so some women find high intensity exercise too difficult to do. Listen to your body.
At this time every month, when our body and mind are experiencing lots of changes, the most important thing to remember is to take care of ourselves. Make time for a bath, be mindful of what you eat, lie on the couch with a heating pad binge-watching your favourite show if you need to. It will all be over in a few days… until next month.