Period Hacks for Lesser Discomfort
Periods suck but it doesn’t have to be that way. Women have always been told from a young age that painful periods are normal. Pain and discomfort are just something they have to deal with every month without a solution to stop the pain and discomfort.
Painful periods are called dysmenorrhea and there are two types – primary and secondary. Up to 90% of young people can experience primary dysmenorrhea, which is when periods are painful due to inflammatory messengers released by the uterus. Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by endometriosis which causes really painful periods. Other causes may be ovarian cysts, pelvic adhesions, cervical stenosis, and many more.
Painful periods can look different for everyone. There may be cultural beliefs about how normal pain is for people with a uterus, but periods shouldn’t make you miserable.
This might not sound like a hack but it’s the first important thing to do! Talk to your medical provider about your medical history. Some doctors might require a physical exam to make sure they don’t miss anything. However, if physical exams are uncomfortable or unsafe, you’re allowed to ask for another option. Unfortunately, many menstruators take years until they get a proper diagnosis because painful periods are so normalized.
NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
The response of inflammatory messengers that causes painful periods may be dampened by taking anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen just before you start your period and continued for the first few days of menstruating.
Birth control – not scary, promise!
Hormonal birth control doesn’t work for everybody but they are prescribed for the fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone to stop. Thus, decreasing your pain and discomfort. The pill, the patch, and the vaginal ring are used to treat painful periods. Progestin-only birth control such as the implant and depo shot is also used to reduce period pain. If you are not trying to conceive, you may speak to your health provider about hormonal birth control methods to treat dysmenorrhea.
Movement is medicine! There is data that can support that being active and being well-rested helps your period become less painful. Strengthen your body with movement that feels good for you. It may be body strengthening exercises, cardio, yoga, or even dancing. Yoga teaches you deep breathing and meditation which can be helpful for pain management. It can also help with PMS when the mood swings get uncontrollable and you’re looking for grounding exercises. Try these yoga poses to relieve pain.
For those with chronic pain like people diagnosed with endometriosis, sleeping and resting can be difficult. Sleep is when we recuperate and recover from the stresses of the day. Quality sleep is crucial in pain regulation. Try these sleeping positions when experiencing dysmenorrhea so sleeping on your period can be a positive experience.
Check if your supplements and vitamins might interfere with your other medicines’ effectiveness. There may not be enough data on supplements and periods but trying won’t hurt! Again, as long as you do your research first!
Try natural ways to manage pain if hormonal treatment is not an option for you. Cutting back or quitting smoking completely is beneficial to your period as well. Dietary changes like cutting back on caffeine may be beneficial but there is no data to support that restrictive diets work. Diet elimination in a targeted fashion may be better than restrictive diets.
Try these period hacks for at least three to six months before deciding that it doesn’t work for you. Listen to your body and work with your doctor! Your period doesn’t have to be painful. It can be a beautiful reminder of life.