The menstrual cycle is a biological debt every woman pays every month. The most common symptoms are the period cramps.
Due to the discomfort it usually comes with, many have described it with such terms as the “red flag” or “visiting grandma”.
Alongside other hormonal changes that come with it, the cramps makes it most unbearable for women. The cramps are caused by the contractions of the uterus. During the menstrual cycle, the uterus tightens and relaxes to allow the blood to flow.
To help manage the cramps and pull through these few discomforting days with a smile, there are some do’s and don’ts every woman should be aware of.
Women hygiene is ultimately essential but during that special time of the month, there is need to double hygiene efforts.
i. Avoid Using A Tampon For Too Long– Changing your tampons regularly, say every 3-4 hours will largely help to avoid bacterial infections, keeps your fresh and prevents embarrassing blood stains on your dress.
According to Dr. Angela Jones, OB/GYN,
“You should be changing your tampon/pad every 3 to 4 hours to avoid an unpleasant odor, bacterial buildup – which can lead to infections – as well as the dreaded bleeding through your pants.”
ii. Douching– This is the process of washing the vagina interiors with water and vinegar (or other mixtures of fluids). While medical experts can’t conclusively approve of douching, many woman across the world use it to get rid of odors. During the monthly cycle, it is not advised to be used. It may cause infections while killing the good bacteria. Web MD says it could cause a range of harmful effects.
At least 14 days before it starts, you should be thoughtful about what you eat. Some foods can worsen your cramps.
i. Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Towards the next menstrual cycle, it is wise that we cut down on sugary foods. Experts say foods with high sugar concentration can draw fluid into your gastrointestinal tract, leading to cramps.
People who consume more sugar than the recommended daily amount are more likely to have painful periods.
ii. Reduce Salty/Commercialized Foods- Just like sugar, foods with a high sodium content causes dehydration which in turn increases the intensity of the cramps.
iii. No Coffee- Caffeine constricts blood vessels which worsens period cramps and causes bloating.
iv. Dairy Foods- Dr Jones says,
“Dairy is not your friend during your period.”
“Ever notice how much more gassy you are around the time of your period? Most of this is hormonal. Add dairy on top of that, and it’s like adding salt to the wound. More cramping, irritable bowels please!”
So in place of salty, sweet and spicy foods, it is best to eat cooked meals, vegetables, fruits and perhaps herbal teas. Taking cold water and over-eating may not help at this time.
How safe and advisable is it to take drugs to quench cramps? Painkillers should be the last resort as too much intake of these pills can harm the liver and kidneys.
The use of hot water bottles over the stomach is a better option. In extreme cases, mild painkillers can be taken, but not on an empty stomach.
Women who have more active lifestyles or have exercise-friendly regular routines, experience lesser cramps. Exercising towards the expected time will help reduce period cramps, fatigue and other discomforts that come with it.
Sleepiness during and around this time is common for some women. Experts advise for more sleep during the cycle to maintain a hormonal balance. Sleeping less at this time according to Jamil Abdur-Rahman can increase the stress hormone cortisol.
6. HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
A healthy lifestyle is the best policy at all times. Smokers may have to consider a cigarette-fast to reduce the severity of period cramps. Smoking increases the risk of chronic dysmenorrhoea.
Same happens with alcohol. Water is the best bet at this time.