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Periods can be really painful, especially with the corollary of painful cramps, irritation, mood-swings and anger. It is very necessary to take ample care of yourself as you fight it through, month after month.
Give yourself time to rest- especially on the first day:
The first day can be really agonizing. If you do need to work or have activities to do on the first day, make the effort to let yourself rest in any moment that you have time. Rest even more during your lunch and other breaks, take extra moments during your day to meditate, and try to avoid doing any extra errands. Anything that doesn’t need to be done on that exact day, put it off to the next day when you’re body will have more energy to do it.
Do low intensity exercises:
Go for walks and do low-intensity cardio, as this will help with the flow but not strain the body. Do stretching and more passive-kinds of exercise such as yin yoga or a yoga class that is gentler in nature. This is most important to do during the first few days of your period, as your body is doing a lot more work in the beginning.
Because we lose quite a bit of blood during our period, it’s important to eat foods rich in iron the week before we start our periods to prepare. So be sure to eat red meats, dark leafy greens (like spinach), and seaweed, as this will prepare your body for what you will be losing during menses. Finally, remember to take your multi vitamins since this will also reduce your likelihood of becoming nutrient deficient.
Take a soothing hot bath:
Take a hot or warm bath once or a few times during the week of your menses filled with bath salts and essential oils. Then go ahead and light some candles, play some soothing music, and just soak. It will not only help you relax, but it will also help sooth any cramps, aches and pains that you may be having.
Write about it:
While we are menstruating, the communication between the left and right hemispheres of our brain are more powerful than any other time of the month. As a result, we may find ourselves receiving more messages from our intuition and instincts while we are menstruating. So take more time to journal, meditate, and reflect. You may find yourself more likely to reach some “a ha” moments, receive new creative ideas, or find an answer to a question you have been contemplating on for weeks or months.
Menstrual blood – once it has left the body – gets contaminated with the body’s innate organisms. This rule applies for even those days when you don’t have much bleeding, since your pad is still damp and will have organisms from your vagina, sweat from your genitals, etc. When these organisms remain in a warm and moist place for a long time they tend to multiply and can lead to conditions like urinary tract infection, vaginal infections and skin rashes. The standard time to change a sanitary pad is once every six hours, while for a tampon is once every two hours. That being said, you have to customize the changing schedule to your needs. While some women might have a heavy flow and would need to change more often, others will need to change less frequently.
Don’t use soaps or vaginal hygiene products:
The vagina has its own cleaning mechanism that works in a very fine balance of good and bad bacteria. Washing it with soap can kill the good bacteria making way for infections. So, while it is important to wash yourself regularly during this time, all you need to use is some warm water. You can use soap on the external parts but do not use it inside your vagina or vulva.
Beware of a pad rash:
A pad rash is something that you might experience during a period of heavy flow. It usually occurs when the pad has been wet for a long time and rubs along the thighs causing it to chaff. To prevent this from occurring, try to stay dry during your periods. If you do have a rash, change your pads regularly and stay dry. Apply an antiseptic ointment, after a bath and before bed – this will heal the rash and prevent further chaffing. If it gets worse do visit your doctor who will be able to prescribe you a medicated powder that can keep the area dry.
Use only one method of sanitation at a time:
Some women who have heavy flow during their periods tend to use either (i) two sanitary pads, (ii) a tampon and sanitary pad (iii) a sanitary pad along with a piece of cloth. This might seem like a good idea, but it actually is not, changing regularly is a better option. Using two pads or a tampon and a sanitary pad is bad because the two pads absorb the blood and you don’t see that they are completely used up you are unlikely to change at regular and healthy intervals. This can lead to rashes, infections and in the case of tampons even TSS. Another consideration is that if one does use a piece of cloth as extra protection that cloth may not be the cleanest thing to put next to your private parts. Lastly, the whole two pad structure is extremely uncomfortable and can leave you with a bad rash and an even worse temper.
Have a bath regularly:
To some it may seem like the most inane advice, but in some cultures it is believed that a woman should not bathe during her periods. This myth was based on the fact that in the olden days women had to bathe in the open or in common water bodies like a river or lake. But with indoor plumbing having a bath is the best thing you can do for your body during your periods. Bathing not only cleanses your body but also gives you a chance to clean your private parts well. It also helps relieve menstrual cramps, backaches, helps improve your mood and makes you feel less bloated. To get some relief from backaches and menstrual cramps, just stand under a shower of warm water that is targeted towards your back or abdomen. You will feel much better at the end of it.