Today I’m talking about menstruation. Periods. The Crimson tide. Whatever you want to call it.
Most of us women have them, some of us are lucky to sail through each month with minimal drama, whereas others have some serious cramping issues, heavy haemorrhaging and generally feel terrible.
Thankfully, there are some excellent methods we can adopt to make life a little bit more organised and bearable each month, and I wanted to go through some of those things with you.
The cramps (proper name dysmenorrhea) we get when we’re on our period are due to our uterus muscles contracting. They can be mild or severe, and the severity can also depend on an individual’s tolerance for pain. Regardless, it is not pleasant in the slightest to be going about your day with what feels like intermittent kicks to your lower abdomen.
Over-the-counter medications such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can offer excellent pain relief to cramps. However, some women experience very severe cramps, perhaps if they have endometriosis. For this, they may need stronger, prescription-only medications such as the contraceptive pill, or stronger painkillers, to provide adequate pain relief.
If you are experiencing severe pain each month, it is worth checking in with your GP for some advice.
There are fewer things more horrendous than coming on your period with a warm, red gush, only to discover you have absolutely no sanitary protection to hand. If you notice that you’re running low on your choice of protection, always jot it down on your shopping list and ensure you have plenty to see you through your next period.
I recommend always carrying around supplies in your handbag, just in case you get caught off-guard.
Use an app.
We use our phones for all sorts of stuff, and periods are no exception. There are a number of apps you can download for free which chart your period.
All you have to do is tell it when your period begins and ends, and it will predict when you’re likely to next be on. Once you’ve been using your app for a few months, it will have a better idea of your cycle, and will be able to more accurately predict when you’re due on.
How clever is that?!
Set aside some ‘monthly undies’
Blood is messy, and a tiny bit goes a long way. And leaks happen to the best of us. It’s a good idea to set aside a handful of monthly undies to wear each month, instead of ruining your best French knickers.
And with you period tracker app installed, you’ll know just when to break them out!
The good old hot water bottle
When we were having cramps at the secondary girls’ school I attended, I remember girls being sent to reception to collect a hot water bottle. It was all a bit hilarious at the time, but the heat from a hot water bottle can be very comforting to a contracting uterus muscle. No wives’ tales here, as there’s actually some science knocking about which supports this.
Take a supplement
There are numerous supplements you can take in the run-up to or during your period which can relieve your symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids are said to help with inflammation, magnesium is said to reduce menstrual pain if taken a few days before your period starts. Evening primrose oil is said to help with PMT and turmeric can also help with inflammation.
These are just a drop in the ocean of the supplements and herbs available on the market to help ease period discomfort.
Eat some food
You heard it right! Our bodies use up extra calories when we’re on our period – anything from 100 to 300 calories per day! But before you reach for the tub of Haagen Dazs, you need to consider the optimal nutrition for your body, as some foods may make your symptoms worse.
As ever, refined foods – particularly sugar – are a no-no. Reach for leafy greens, lean meats and fresh fruits. Avoid caffeine if you can.
So those are my top-tips in a nutshell. Although periods can be pretty diabolical, we are lucky to have access to a wealth of resources to help us get through with a little less discomfort.
I couldn’t imagine what it would be like having periods if I was homeless. Could you?
Show your support here http://thehomelessperiod.com/ if you can bear to think about it.