Every month. Like a mostly accurate watch, I, like other menstruating females get my period. I get the cramps. The bloating. The headaches. The lovely digestive issues. The mood swings. And for most of the 20-ish years, I’ve had my period, I’ve just dealt with it. I’ve taken some Advil and pushed through.
Last year, I thought there had to be a better way. So, like any good millennial, I decided to hack my way to a better period. Because I have approximately a gazillion more to go. I will probably never forgo my trusty ibuprofen, but there are definitely a few things that make those few days better to endure.
(Side note: If you are in unbearable pain or your period is different than normal, please see your doctor. I’m not one and this is not medical advice in any way.)
Look at the data, track your period
Are you tracking your period? My junior high health teacher suggested it. My doctor has suggested it. And yet, I was always forgetting how long it had been and when exactly I needed to make sure I replaced that box of tampons. (It’s embarrassing the number of times I ransacked every purse in the house hoping to find a tampon at 5 am.) Period tracking apps can help you know when your period is coming when you are ovulating and some can even track changes. You can do it manually, or you can use an app. (I use Clue and it works on iPhones and Androids.)
Kinesio tape is for periods, too.
Have bad cramps? Kinesiology tape might help. I learned this trick from an issue of Cosmo, but it is surprisingly brilliant. You use a short piece of tape vertically between your belly button and just above the top of your pubic hair and then a longer piece of tape horizontally between your hip bones. Drug-free and the tape can last up to a couple of days.
Ginger and Turmeric are really magic roots
Ginger is an anti-inflammatory, a stomach soother, and scientifically proven period improver. It was shown to be as effective as a prescription NSAID called Ponstel for period pain in a study published in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics in June 2015. Take 250mg every 6 hours and relish the fact that you found a natural alternative to medication.
As for Turmeric, a personal favorite of mine, it is another anti-inflammatory with other health benefits. If you swap a golden milk or turmeric chai for your morning coffee you are both avoiding an inflammatory substance and consuming an anti-inflammatory. It’s a double bonus.
I was a bit horrified when I realized that tampons have more than just cotton in them and that there is no required labeling. Um, yuck? I want to at least know what I am putting in my body. If I can’t know what’s in the brand I’ve been buying for years, I don’t want it. I avoid most toxins in my diet and skincare, so I’d like to avoid them in my period products as well. There are a few organic brands out there, but Lola will even ship them to you in whatever combination you want on whatever interval you want it.
I haven’t covered every tip the internet has for better periods, but these are what has worked for me. I might never leave the trusty Advil behind, but Ginger is definitely my new best friend. And I’ll never go back to synthetic tampons again.
Mary Fran Wiley is a well known gluten-free and positive living blogger from Chicago where she writes Curiouser and Curiouser, maintains the Chronic Positivity Project, and has been featured in Allergic Living Magazine, Care2.com and Today.com.