Remember that time when life was going along just fine, and then you woke up one morning tired, cranky and looking like you just snarfed down five pizzas by yourself in water weight? Yeah, it’s called PMS and it’s basically our recurring nightmare that happens once a month.
Let’s face it. If you’re not on the pill or any other form of birth control that makes your period stop, you may wish you were when your hormones decide to go bat shit crazy and make you forget who you are every month. Needless to say, 29 years later and PMS still sneaks up on me. Everything’s great—then suddenly a switch turns on and I’m suddenly wondering what the fuck happened.
Even though there are some serious downsides to your period, there are definitely also ways that you can make it more bearable. If you’re one of those ladies who dread that time of the month—these tips are for you.
1. Take Ibuprofen before cramps start.
This one saved my life. Seriously. For years, I was getting these terrible menstrual cramps that made me have to stay home from work and school. Then, I read this article about how taking a dose of Ibuprofen up to five days before your period actually helps it load up in your system, thus helping prevent super bad cramping the day of. Don’t forget to also take some extra BEFORE the cramps get really bad on day one (yes, day one of your cycle is the first day of your period).
2. Relax on the healthy food.
First off, don’t take this as a sign that I’m telling you that you can now binge on chocolate and ice cream and carbs all week long. But, do know that you definitely can lay off the guilt of eating chocolate here and there, or whatever other junk food you indulge in during that time of the month. Since I like to eat healthy most of the time, I keep in mind the 80/20 rule. If I’m eating well 80% of the month and this is 20% that I’m craving chili cheese fries and Philly cheese steaks, then fine. A girl’s gotta have fun, too. If you’re worried about it, try balancing out your junk food with something healthy. So, for example, since a Philly cheese is my go-to on my period, I try to order it with a salad on the side. Best of both worlds. And remember, chocolate never hurt anyone.
3. Take it easy on the exercise.
The first days of your cycle and the days leading up to it are probably not the best days for you to bump up your regular workouts. Ever noticed that your body gets super slow and sluggish? According to Australian researchers, women are more likely to get injured when they workout on their periods. However, this doesn’t mean that you should completely stop either. That’s 60 days of the year that you might not workout. Talk about derailing your fitness plan! Solution? If you’re feeling okay then keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re feeling kinda crappy, use the first day or two to take a rest day. Go for a walk with a friend or do some light yoga. You might also find that moving around actually helps take the cramps away.
4. Castor oil packs are a godsend.
This is one of those home remedies that my mom showed me when I was inducted into the world of periods. Though it seems weird at first, it turns out there’s a lot of benefits to using them. For me, they help relax the cramping in my stomach and help to induce bleeding if you’re not quite fully there yet. How do you make one? Well, you need a few supplies. Pick up a bottle of castor oil (available at health food stores), an old school hot water bottle, and an old wash cloth that you don’t mind staining. To get started, warm some hot water on the stove, fill the hot water bottle and then, make sure you have a pair of PJ pants on and underwear with your period protection of choice that you don’t mind getting stained. Pour approximately a tablespoon of castor oil on your wash cloth and then carefully turn it over and place it on your uterus (you should be able to tell by where the cramps are, but essentially it’s that lower belly area). Then, place the hot water bottle on top and voila! Turn on your favorite guilty pleasure TV show or movie and relax! They’re actually the best in the winter. Talk about cozy!
Note: Once the bleeding starts, you don’t need to use the castor oil anymore. But just in case you get cramps later on in your period, feel free to cozy up with the hot water bottle sans castor oil as many times as you want!
5. Disposable heating pads work wonders.
Disposable heating pads are easy to get your hands on at your local pharmacy and they’re a lifesaver. Simply stick one to the inside of your panties, pop an Advil and go about your day as normal. The good ones give heat for up to eight hours (which is basically anyone’s average day) and can be a lifesaver when you’re stuck having to go to class for midterms or can’t miss an important office meeting.
6. Sex is still an option.
Let’s be real, I couldn’t talk about cures for periods without mentioning everyone’s fave! Sex (solo or partnered) is great for cramps because one good orgasm can not only help the muscles relax, but getting your brain aroused can also distract you from the pain for long enough to let the pain subside. But let’s be honest, some women are really into having sex on their period. Some women feel like gross, bloated slimeballs and the thought of anything remotely sexual coming near them is the worst thought in the world. Some women feel differently on different periods. That being said, no one is forcing you to have sex on your period. However, if you haven’t tried it before? It might be the most fun you’ve ever had on your period.
So there you have it. In our cycle of womanly life, periods happen once a month for about 50 years or so (minus the time when we’re pregnant or on birth control). They kinda suck, but if you develop a no-fail routine, you can definitely make the whole thing suck at least a little bit less.