Periods suck. They're painful, achy, messy, and inconvenient. Now that that's out of the way, let's just acknowledge that they exist and we need to move forward and be proactive.
Let's focus on the pain part — many of us suffer from intense amounts of pain; this pain can extend beyond your lower abdomen, radiating to your back and even the top of your legs and butt. Fun. So what can you do? Try any and all of these approaches to see what works best for you. We personally like the all-of-the-above approach.
- Warm water bottle or heating pad. Alleviate pain, cramping, and stiff muscles with a bit of heat therapy. If you don't have a heating pad, you can fill water bottles with warm water and soothe away.
- Ibuprofen. NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are totally safe to take; just take the right dose at the right time. We asked Dr. Pavika Varma, MD, to clarify. "Remember not to take it on any empty stomach," she said. "So even if you wake up with really bad cramps, and want to take a pill to make all the pain go away, just remember to eat something first. Even a small snack like crackers or some fruit will do." As far as dosage goes, "If you are the type who suffers from really bad cramps that you feel are debilitating, you can take three pills (at 200 mg each your total dose is 600). As your cramps ease up during the cycle, you can cut down to two pills and then one pill and be on a pain control regimen that's right for you."
- Do some cramp-reducing yoga and gently stretch the cramping and bloating out of your body.
- Exercise. We know, you don't want to hear this one, but it's true: exercise can help relieve PMS and help you fight through the icky feelings. Plus, you'll feel really good about yourself for getting your workout done in spite of a physical setback.
- Eat some dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is full of magnesium, which can relieve cramps, including menstrual cramps.
- Get the right foods. In addition to magnesium, there are several vitamins and minerals that fight PMS symptoms, including manganese and calcium. Try avocados, bananas, and yogurt. This PMS smoothie has a little bit of everything you need.
- Fight inflammation with turmeric. Dr. Varma has also recommended turmeric for muscular pain. Whip up a batch of soothing golden milk, which uses muscle-aiding turmeric to help reduce soreness.
- Get some sleep. It's so important to rest when you need to, and listen to your body. Getting sleep will help your body recover from the change it's going through.