You know the drill. Aches. Pains. Moodiness. Ugh. You have your period and you can't do anything about it.
No one wants to make that time of the month even worse. So why are you engaging in poor menstrual cycle habits that are doing you no good? Here are some mistakes that you should break free of during your period.
You don't wash your hands at the right times.
If you're like most people, you wash your hands after inserting your tampon or changing your sanitary pad. But why aren't you cleaning those hands before you do those actions? It's important to keep hands clean to protect your vagina from all the bacteria that you encounter throughout the day. So, if you'll be doing anything down there, wash your hands before doing so.
You don't change your tampons or pads enough.
To prevent leakages, change your sanitary protection every few hours. Depending on your flow, check pads every two to four hours. Using the lowest-absorbency tampon, switch your tampon at least every four to eight hours. Doing so will help reduce the risk of toxic shock syndrome, a rare but life-threatening complication of certain types of bacterial infections. It's often associated with the use of superabsorbent tampons. (The incidence of toxic shock syndrome has declined since manufacturers have taken certain types of tampons off the market.)
You use scented products.
Artificially scented and fragrant powders, soaps, wipes, gels and other products are full of chemicals that can irritate everything down there. So, cut yourself some slack if you have a little odor when you're on your period. It's just your vagina's way of keeping itself clean. When bathing, cleanse your internal parts with water. And you can wash outer areas with all-natural soaps that don't have words like "fragrant" or "perfume" on the label.
You don't proactively take pain relievers.
If you wait until you're doubled over with cramps to take your meds, those pain relievers will be less effective than if you take them before the cramps hit you. Pain is easier to prevent when it's mild or before it starts as opposed to when it's debilitating. So, if your cycles are predictable and regular, take an anti-inflammatory drug one to two days before you expect your period to help prevent cramping. If they're irregular, take a pain reliever as soon as you experience any bleeding or cramping.
You don't get enough iron.
Do you yearn for a hamburger during that time of the month? That's because your body is craving iron. It's common to be low on iron during your period, because you're losing iron-rich blood. Iron helps carry oxygen through your body, which gives your body the energy it needs. So, replenish those iron levels by consuming beans, red meats, dried apricots, oysters or spinach, or take supplements. If these tricks don't help, speak with your health care provider. You may need to be tested for anemia, a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells.
You snack too much.
You're PMS-ing so you head right to your snack cabinet. Want to be even more bloated? Then munch on high-sodium snacks like potato chips. The more salt you eat, the more water you'll retain. So, minimize consumption of salty foods during your period so you don't have another thing making you bloated.
You skip your workouts.
Exercising may be the last thing on your mind when your friend Flo is in town. But research has shown that elevating your heart rate helps manage the psychological and physical symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. It can help boost your mood and decrease bloating. Engage in any activity where you break a sweat to help you feel better.
You don't track your period.
Charting your cycle isn't just for women who are trying to conceive. By tracking your period and the heaviness of your flow and your pain level, you can talk with your health care provider about what's going on. And you'll have a better sense of what to expect physically and emotionally from week to week. Many apps are available to make the process easier for you.
You don't get enough rest.
When you have your period, your body is working overtime. And it needs a break in the form of sleep. Otherwise, you'll be more anxious, crankier and prone to eating junk. So, don't be a hero and push through the pain. Instead, practice good sleep habits to help with your overall productivity and health.
You don't look at the color of your blood.
The color and texture of your menstrual blood are important. You want blood that is bright red, with occasional clotting being normal. Dark colors are normal too, because that's older blood that took longer to come out. But, contact your health care provider if you see blood with an orange tint or orange with red streaks. These colors mean fluids from the cervix are mixed in there, and you may be battling an infection. And reach out if you have heavy clots more often than not.