7 Ways to Soothe Your Worst Period Symptoms

7 Ways to Soothe Your Worst Period Symptoms

Experts share smart tips for quelling your most aggravating period symptoms.

By Leah Maxwell

There are many wonderful things about being a woman, but dealing with a monthly period probably isn’t near the top of your list. Bloating, cramps, fatigue, and mood swings aren’t anyone’s idea of a fantastic time, but just because they’re part of a natural process doesn’t mean we have to suffer through them without relief. Whether you experience minor annoyances or symptoms that significantly disrupt your life, these expert tips aim to make your cycle easier.

1. Get some exercise. It might feel like the last thing you want to do when you’re battling period symptoms, but getting even a little exercise (think yoga or tai chi) is one of the easiest ways to relieve period-related discomfort. Moving your muscles can lessen the pain of cramps, working up a sweat can help with water retention, and prompting the release of endorphins can swing your bad mood in a positive direction.

2. Find the right OTC medications. Many women turn to over-the-counter medications to alleviate cramps and bloating. Monique Regard, MD, OB/GYN suggests taking remedies specifically formulated and labeled for period-related bloating and, for pain relief, looking for non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), like what you would normally use to quash a headache.

3. Know your vitamins and minerals. Taking supplements or eating foods with particular vitamins and minerals is a great way to treat symptoms naturally. “Eat food rich in magnesium, such as spinach, lentils, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocados, and cacao,” says Neka Pasquale, an acupuncturist and herbalist. Minerals like magnesium and potassium help stimulate activity in your muscles and nerves, which can decrease the strain of uterine cramps, she says.

Studies have shown fennel and fennel seed, omega-3 fish oils, and calcium can also help with cramps, notes Regard.

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4. Rest up. If your period saps you of energy, you’re not alone. “Extra rest during the menstrual cycle is the best way to handle the additional fatigue,” says Regard. She adds that some ancient cultures allowed women to be excused from their regular chores so they could rest during their periods. If getting someone else to do your daily work isn’t likely to happen, you might at least try to go to bed early or to sit quietly with a book for a significant stretch of time during the day. Or try taking a bath, which may help the kidneys pull out some of the extra water in the body, notes Regard. So relaxing in the tub can help with bloating and water retention – not to mention your mood!

5. Water in, water out. Reducing overall salt intake is a one way to prevent and treat bloating and water retention, but Pasquale also advises avoiding foods that contain preservatives and flavor enhancers. Instead, opt for natural diuretics like cucumber juice, watermelon juice, kombu kelp, lettuce, zucchini, pineapple, and asparagus, she says. “Fluids move fluids, so drink lots of water and juices and eat foods that have high water content,” she says.

6. Chart your cycle. Keeping track of your period’s timing doesn’t just mean knowing when to carry tampons in your purse – it can also help with the emotional impact of hormonal shifts. “I would recommend that women mark their calendars anticipating their periods,” says Carolyn AlRoy, PsyD, a psychologist in New York. Electronic calendars and smartphone apps can be programmed to send reminders, as well, she notes.

“Often when we find ourselves in a bad mood, our brain makes up a story justifying it,” explains AlRoy. “Since mood swings can be caused by hormones and is a physical issue, the reminder that the cause of the moods are physical can forestall complicated rationales for moods.”

7. Wear comfy clothes ... that make you feel good. There’s no shame in wearing your “fat pants” during that time of the month, but remember to pay attention to how your clothes make you feel emotionally, as well. Definitely wear comfortable clothes that fit, but keep in mind that comfy doesn’t have to equal frumpy. If you’re dealing with bloating, cramps, PMS, and/or fatigue, the last thing you need is to wear clothes that make you feel ugly. Find outfits that work during your period, for both your body and your mind.

See? Getting your period doesn’t have to be so bad. (Although, if you notice a significant change in your symptoms over time, be sure to let your doctor know.)

How do you relieve your period symptoms?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

Image ©iStock.com/GeorgeRudy

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I normally get Tylenol PM for monthly cycle

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