It's probably no surprise that we love talking about our periods here at LOLA. We openly discuss the details of our cycles, trade first period stories, and talk about what we've learned from cycle tracking. But, just because we love talking about periods doesn't necessarily mean we all love getting our periods. After all, a five-day fiesta of cramps, bloating, period poops, and intense paranoia about bleeding through tampons isn't any girl's idea of a good time.
Thankfully, talking to every stranger we meet about their periods has given our team the inside scoop on the period hacks that actually work. Here are 8 things you need to know to have the easiest period of your life:
1. Be prepared
FACT: Nobody likes surprises of the period variety. Use a period tracking app to get to know your cycle. Especially if you're irregular, tracking apps can help uncover trends about the length of your cycle, when you're most apt to cramp, and the heaviest day of your period.
Our favorite apps? Eve uses a simple calendar format to give you 3 months of period visibility, so you can make sure to plan that romantic beach getaway sans period interruption. We also like Clue, which allows you track as much or as little data as you want. Ready to be a menstrual Macgyver? You can add in data around pain level, discharge, sex, sleep, and more.
2. Start a pre-period regimen
There's not much you can do to relieve cramps or heavy bleeding once your period starts. So to avoid popping pain killers, prevention is key. It's no secret that we worship at the altar of apple cider vinegar "“ it's a natural substitute for almost any beauty product in your arsenal. But did you know that drinking ACV before your period can help to lessen painful cramps and give you a shorter, lighter period? Mix 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar into a cup of tea with honey, and repeat daily for the week before your period.
3. It's supplemental, my dear Watson
Period pro Alisa Vitti explains, "Estrogen builds the lining of your uterus. If you're eating a diet that prevents your liver from breaking down this hormone, it can build up and wreak havoc on your cycle." Supplements like milk thistle and vitamin C are shown to even out estrogen levels and help to avoid excess build up of uterine lining in the first place.
Additionally, studies show that taking iron supplements can help prevent anemia caused by loss of blood during menstruation. Anemia is associated with fatigue, headache, and decreases in cognitive function and mood. Trust us, you won't miss those symptoms when they're gone.
4. Curb your vices
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but caffeine, alcohol, excess salt, and fatty foods and can all make your period symptoms worse. Resisting your cravings can actually help to stave off cramps and bloating. If, like many of us, you can't survive without your morning cup of joe, make it a half-caf and try to hold off until mid-day on the crampiest day of your period.
5. Get moving
We get it, sometimes prying yourself off the couch and pausing that marathon of House of Cards feels impossible. But as hard as it can be to motivate, that vigorous workout is the best remedy for menstrual cramps. Exercise causes the release of beta-endorphins, which act as a natural pain reliever. And the great news is that you don't have to commit to an intense workout session to feel the benefits: even a simple at-home yoga session will do some good. Twist poses are especially great for cramps and bloating.
6. Get off
If exercise is out of the question, orgasm is another great way to reduce cramping. Like with exercise, reaching orgasm triggers a release of endorphins which will naturally counteract pain, but also has the added benefit of helping to relax pelvic muscles that cause cramping in the first place. So you can feel free to get frisky, Doctor's orders!
7. Heat things up
Fine, you're not feeling too sexy. You can also heat things up in a whole other way. Using a heating pad or hot water bottle will also help relax the muscles that are contracting to cause cramps. No time to curl up on the couch? Adhesive one time use heating pads are a great on-the-go alternative. Pro tip: if your local store is out of menstrual heating pads, the neck, shoulder, and wrist version is basically the same thing.
8. Sleep it off
If none of this is working for you, go ahead and sleep it off. It's not just you"¦ it's scientifically proven that you're more tired during your period "“ increases in progesterone levels that occur in the second half of your cycle actually do make you more sleepy.
While it's unlikely to become your favorite time of month, these hacks can help you have the best period possible! Have other tips and tricks? We're listening. Let us know in the comments!