Listen up, ladies. Considering a doctor just confirmed that period cramps are as painful as heart attacks, I think it's time that we find some ways to lessen that pain.
Birth control helps some women, others find that medication does the trick, but some of that can be avoided by stopping some easy habits while you're on your period. Okay, maybe don't avoid the birth control, but you get what I'm saying.
There are things we do on our menstrual cycles that are actually making our cramps worse, and once you figure out what those things are, you can hopefully stop doing them long enough to relieve some pain.
1. You're Drinking
A glass of wine here or there doesn't hurt, but the more alcohol you drink while on your period can have a negative affect on your cramps. When you drink, you become more bloated, which adds to the inflammation already in your abdomen. Plus, you lose magnesium when you drink alcohol which is a natural pain killer for cramps. So ask yourself if that night out with the girls is really necessary this week, or if it can wait until the devil has left your abdomen.
2. You're Eating Sugary Foods
I knoooow, I know. This one sucks. I'd be lying if I said I've never used my period as an excuse to eat a tub of ice cream in bed while washing it down with a jar of Nutella. But here's the thing: sugar makes your cramps worse. When you're on your period, your body naturally has higher sugar levels. Couple that with your buffet of different gummy animals and you've got a recipe for disaster. Sugar can also cause inflammation which, as we learned, is not great.
3. You're Eating Salty Foods
Okay, now this feels like a personal attack. You're telling me I can't have candy OR french fries? This must be in violation of my human rights, no? It makes sense, though. Salt makes you retain water, which causes inflammation which, say it with me now...MAKES! CRAMPS! WORSE! Fast food, salty snacks, or anything else that is high in sodium is not your friend while you're on your period.
4. You're Not Sleeping
Cramps can make it hard to sleep, which can makes cramps worse, which can make it hard to sleep, which can...y'know what? You get the idea. Lack of sleep has been proven to lower your pain thresholds due to a lower production of serotonin. This can make you more sensitive to pain which will obviously make your cramps feel like you were hit by a bus. Try and get as much sleep as possible while on your period, although admittedly that's easier said than done.
5. You're Overweight
Believe me when I tell you I'm not saying this as a way to be rude, body-shame, or anything else like it. If I was, then I'd be a bigger hypocrite than a cow who says he doesn't like milk. But the science doesn't lie when it comes to extra pounds meaning more painful cramps. Overweight women are more likely to suffer from period pain as fat cells can change into a form of estrogen, which can then lead to a more intense period. So if you were looking for another reason to hit the gym, this could be it.
6. You're Stressed
I'm starting to think someone is following me around and recording all my habits and then telling me why they're the worst. If you're like me, stress is an expected part of any day. But unfortunately, stress can change your menstrual habits and even cause you to miss a cycle if it's really bad. When you're stressed, your body releases cortisol which can negatively affect your cycle and your cramps. No thanks. This is a perfect reason to take a day off when you're on your period and just chill.
7. You're Hitting The Gym Too Hard
Sorry, can't relate. I've never been accused of "hitting the gym too hard" or even "going to the gym on a semi-regular basis." But for those of you that do, rigorous exercise and physical stress on your body can lead to hormonal imbalances. That being said, light to moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day can help with your PMS struggles, so just make sure you find the balance.
8. You're Drinking Coffee
YOU CAN PRY MY COFFEE OUT OF MY COLD, DEAD, CAFFEINATED HANDS. Sadly, any form of caffeine will make your cramps worse for so many reasons. First. it can dehydrate you which is overall terrible. Second, it affects your sleeping patterns which we know is an issue when cramping. Third, it constricts your blood vessels and makes you more tense, which makes your cramping a lot more intense. No thank you.
Now that you've learned all the ways you're making your cramps worse, hopefully you can eliminate some and make your period pains a little less terrible.