By now, you’ve probably learned all there is to know about periods. We’ve dissected our first experiences with three women’s wellness experts, we’ve discussed the science behind PMS, and we’ve even shared how to approach the conversation with your adolescent teens. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that the key to truly mastering your menstrual cycle is remaining aware – and steering clear of – any bad habits that can be harmful to your overall health.
Let’s break them down!
Always Use The Pad With The Right Absorbency
When shopping for pads for your period, you never want to approach it with a “one size fits all” mentality. As we’ve previously reported, we need to understand that our bodies “will require the size of the pad, as well as its strength of leakage protection.”
Always provides a great tool for consumers to assess which pads will provide the best strength absorbency for their flow, and that tool is called Always My Fit. It utilizes different color and number codes to differentiate which pads are best for light to heavy flows, as well as what pads are a better fit for daytime wear, and others that are more suitable to wear at night.
Remember To Change Your Tampons Frequently
If you’re a user of tampons, it’s imperative that you remember to change them often. Failing to do so puts you at the risk of toxic shock syndrome, a “rare but serious condition caused by a bacterial infection.”
In an interview with Bustle, Sarah Yamaguchi, OB/GYN, shared that leaving your tampon in for too long can put your life at risk.
“Leaving a tampon in for greater than eight hours puts you at risk for a rare but severe illness called toxic shock syndrome which can be life-threatening,” she explained. “Leaving a moist pad all day will increase your chances of developing bacterial or yeast infections.”
Although mild yeast infections can usually be cleared within one to three days with an oral antifungal drug or antifungal cream, more serious infections can require long-term treatment.
Avoid Using Scented Products
It’s usually best to steer clear of using scented products in and around your vaginal area, both on and off your period. According to Healthy Women, “artificially scented and fragrant powders, soaps, wipes, gels, and other products are full of chemicals that can irritate everything down there.”
Yes, our periods tend to make our vaginal area feel a bit unfresh but reaching for scented products as a remedy can make things worse. Instead, reach for a gentle, scent-free, and all-natural wash that will give you the results you need without harming your lady area.
Steer Clear Of Caffeine
Caffeine can be a saving grace for so many of us that lead hectic lives, but do you know that you’re doing your body a disservice by consuming it on your period? That’s right! According to Flo Health, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals have advised that it’s best to “avoid caffeine altogether to relieve PMS symptoms and breast tenderness.”
And while each person’s sensitivities and reactions to caffeine can differ, it’s important to know that caffeine actually “blocks a hormone that can make blood vessels (which are present in the uterus) smaller, slowing the flow of blood.” Caffeine consumption while on your period can also lead to inflammation, bloating, and intensify the pain of cramps.
So as much as it hurts us to say this – and as difficult as it’s going to be to put the cup of coffee down – it may just be the best thing!
Avoid Too Many Sugary And Starchy Foods
According to Healthline, “changes in levels of hormones estrogen and progesterone cause cravings for high-carb and sweet foods before your period.” In addition to this, our bodies also release serotonin when we eat sweets and starchy foods, which successfully boosts our mood when dealing with symptoms of PMS – no wonder we can’t avoid reaching for every single one of our delicious food cravings.
While it’s okay to indulge, try not to go overboard with your cravings and remember that it’s still important to be conscious about your health. Try swapping out your sugary or salty foods for healthier alternatives, or simply limit your portions to ensure that you still fulfill your appetite without completely overindulging.
Here’s a tip! If you’re craving carbs, reach for beans, lentils, brown rice and oats instead of bread, chips, and pasta. And if you’re craving sugar, prepare a smoothie or reach for fruits and yogurt instead of opting in for that slice – or two – of cheesecake.
Staying hydrated while on your period is vital to feeling your best. Not only can it alleviate the pain that you feel from cramps, but it also ensures that your body has the nutrients it needs to properly get rid of waste and toxins.
According to Healthshots, it’s recommended that you drink “at least eight to ten glasses of water a day” to help fight bloating, cramps, and feelings of fatigue. It also prevents migraines and severe headaches – which also is an added plus.
Avoid Excessive Alcohol Drinking
A little alcohol consumption during your period isn’t anything to worry about, but you’ll want to make sure that you’re not overdoing it – while on your cycle or even off of it. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “regular heavy booze sessions can cause irregular periods or even skipped periods. This happens because alcohol can temporarily increase levels of estrogen and testosterone, disrupting typical hormonal fluctuations that happen during ovulation.” Ultimately, even affects the chances of fertility.
While alcohol is also known to dull the reactivity of one’s senses, some can be tempted to even turn towards it for relief from menstrual pain but this would be a mistake. Alcohol consumption can make one more prone to dehydration, and this will inevitably lead to the worsening of menstrual cramps and pains.
So if you’d like to reach for a drink while on your menstrual cycle, consider grabbing a mocktail instead of a fruity cocktail. These non-alcoholic beverages are much lower in sugar, so you won’t be left with increased menstrual pains or that grueling hangover.
Lastly, because our periods can be accompanied by intense levels of pain, it is very common to turn to painkillers and medications for relief – if you do decide to consume alcohol while on your period, stay clear of then adding medication to the mix. The results of doing this can be life-threatening.
Move Your Body
Between the menstrual cramps and the looming feeling of tiredness, you may feel compelled to be a couch potato for the entire day or length of your period. But resist the urge! Try to incorporate at least fifteen minutes of exercise into your day, and remember that it doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous.
Your energy levels will inevitably be lower while on your period, so match that with a low-intensity workout. Going for a short walk can be a great way to incorporate movement into your day.
And there you have it! Be conscious of refraining from these bad habits while on your period, and you’ll be well on your way to having a more tolerable experience!