When Aunt Flo comes a-knockin’, does your survival instinct force you to run and bury yourself under your blanket, with a humongous bag of chips and unlimited Netflix for company? Most of us, unfortunately, do not have the luxury of paying heed to that instinct; instead, we put our brave faces on and head out into the world. So, here is a compilation of period hacks on how to find relief, and NOT feel (and look) like a train wreck during shark week.
Unlike when other friends visit, you do NOT want your “chums” to arrive as a surprise.
Keeping track of your periods can be very helpful in giving you a heads up on when to start carrying your emergency period essentials kit around when you head out, in addition to helping you schedule important days. You can do this by getting into the habit of jotting down the date of the first day of your periods (the beginning of the menstrual cycle) in the old-fashioned way, or use one of the gazillion period tracker apps on the Internet. Most women have a 28-day cycle, although it may range from 21-35 days.
Another smart move if its that time of the month, is to leave the house with a comfy cotton pad already on, when you know you will be gone for long hours and may have limited access to restrooms on the go. Better to be safe than sorry, no?
DODGE THE STAIN
- Use super-absorbent overnight pads on heavy-flow days.
- Using a couple of pads, custom-design your own uber-long, ultra-absorbent, albeit less comfortable, sanitary napkin.
- Period panties provide added protection.
- Wear two undies, or a pair of tight-fitting gym shorts / leggings to keep your pad in place while you sleep, especially if you are a night-thrasher.
- Switch to tampons or menstrual cups, the latter being especially lauded by millions of women around the world for truly being a period game-changer, thanks to their comfort and sustainability.
- Change pads, tampons and cups as frequently as is needed to have a safe and stain-free period.
CONQUER THE PAIN AND DISCOMFORT
Ditch the Itch
- Choose pads with a soft, cotton top sheet even if this means changing 3x more frequently.
- Always opt for unscented pads. Maybe even try a few brands to figure out the one that has the least side effects.
- Use a barrier cream (borrow the baby’s diaper cream!) every time you change.
- Apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream on your OUTER vulva (never inside your vagina) to treat rashes.
- Switch to menstrual cups for zero skin chafing, irritation and rashes during your periods.
Period Pain and Cramps
- Heat to the rescue – use microwave-able instant heating pads or a hot water bottle wrapped in a fluffy towel, and warm showers, to ease physical pain.
- Vitamin E, fish oil and evening primrose oil capsules are found to be effective for cramps.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication or anti-inflammatory drugs such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin, but don’t get too hung up on the habit.
- Massage your stomach with olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil or lavender oil.
- Get moving – take a brisk walk or do some form of light to moderate aerobic activity to release endorphins that act as an all-natural painkiller.
- Go the desi way – a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds taken with a glass of hot water is a miracle potion for stomach cramps.
- Soothe yourself with hot beverages – be it a mug of sinful chocolate or herbal tea.
- Sleep it off – some women have predictable pain patterns. If so, free up your schedule and take a guilt-free, long, long nap.
- Acupuncture and acupressure – many women swear by these forms of traditional Chinese medicine for pain relief.
- Embrace mindfulness – whether you opt for meditation, calming music, soothing podcasts or just plain breathing exercises, endeavor to fill up your insides with positive vibes and calm.
- Become a yogi – even if it is just for the duration of your period. Certain yoga poses such as the half camel, seated forward fold and the child’s pose help in easing stomach cramps and bloating (not to mention that the body naturally contorts into these poses when the cramps begin!)
- Indulge in self-care – flood your system with feel-good hormones to combat the nastiness, with some much-needed self-TLC, be it luxurious baths, colorful outfits or tasty food.
- Tummy troubles – minimize the dreaded bloat, diarrhea and constipation issues, by staying hydrated, eating healthy (especially foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin B12, iron and magnesium), while avoiding processed junk foods, caffeine, smoking and alcohol.
WHAT’S THAT SMELL?
Your vagina is NOT meant to smell like a bunch of roses. Rather, it is more akin to smell like bread and beer. Yes, you read that right. Lactobacilli bacteria present in these foods are also present, and assist in the self-cleaning mechanism of the vagina in order to maintain optimal, slightly acidic conditions.
Your menses is basically the bloody lining of your uterus being shed along with other uterine gunk, so it’s natural for the odor to be a bit overwhelming, especially if it’s been a while since you last changed. However, do not be tempted to use scented pads and feminine washes that do more harm than good, and actually make the stink worse.
Bathing once a day using your regular, mild cleanser on EXTERNAL genitalia is more than enough. Plain water can be used at all other times, while ensuring that you change your underwear and pads often to stay fresh down there.
After all has been said and done, we urge you to seek the help and advice of your doctor if the pain and discomfort you experience on your period is debilitating enough to hinder your day-to-day functionality.
Have a safe, hacked period!