I almost started this post with an apology to my male readers who don’t need the intimate details of my menstrual cycle. But then I stopped. One, because I realized that my readers are smart enough to not waste their time with articles that are not relevant to them. Secondly, I am too old to be apologizing for the fact that I spend a quarter of my life dealing with a natural biological process.
I have terrible cramps and vomiting the first two days. The medical term for this is primary dysmenorrhea, aka period cramps. I have been able to find relief from birth control, but decided not to use the pill because of a series of experiences with side effects. This is combined with menstrual related iron deficiency. However, I have learned a series of tips and tricks to manage my period pains.
First is to give myself a break. I have sucky periods and I allow myself to go easy on myself during the first two days. I rest and do a lot of self care. Whatever makes you smile, this is the week to make sure you do it. Sweat pants and hoodies are essential and I spend most of my free time trying to stay warm and cramp free.
I find that three things that really help with cramps are long, hot showers, heating pads, or a muscle heating crème like thermacare or bengay. The creams combined with medication like Tylenol are my keys to getting through long clinical days at the hospital.
But after that, it is back to business. Day three, exercise is wonderful way to start working off the remaining cramps. Try not to take the whole week off because you’ll be losing 25% of your possible exercise time.
A good diet is also essential. I go slightly lower on fiber during my cycle because I have period related diarrhea, however, good foods for this period include fatty fish, berries, etc. to help cut down on inflammation. Try to avoid the chocolates and fatty foods because that won’t help with anything.. And water, water, water. You are losing fluids; be sure to keep yourself hydrated.
BUT, if you do suffer from anemia, eat beef during your period to help keep your iron on. You will also likely be overly cold during your cycle, so try drinking ginger tea to help with cramps and to help keep you warm. Try to stay away from excess caffeine so you can get that quality sleep at night.
One side note, it is scientifically proven that sex does help with menstrual cycle pain. It certainly will not hurt. To me, it’s a to each their own. If that is your thing, girl you get down. If you’re not into that, I hear that too.