Growing up, I envied women who spoke of their “barely there” periods consisting of a couple days of light bleeding and spotting.
I felt like I got the bloody end of the stick in life. While I still feel this way to some extent, I’ve also learned some ways to cope with the pain and flow.
For women who are new to pain and heavy flow, or women who are just trying to finally cope with it, here are some tips from the experts:
1) Try different types of exercise.
Although working out is the last thing you’ll want to do on your period, experts do recommend remaining active, even if it’s just walking or doing yoga, according to MedlinePlus.
2) Heat is your friend.
Heating pads can be applied to the lower belly region where period pain is normally felt, but make sure not to fall asleep with the heating pad on, MedlinePlus cautions. Warm drinks may also provide relief, along with warm baths or showers.
3) Cold can also be your friend.
Place an ice pack on your stomach for about 20 minutes to help reduce the amount of bleeding, advises Hayley Smith, founder of Flow Aid and sufferer of severe period pain.
4) Take natural supplements.
Smith makes a point of getting essential vitamins, including tablets with iron and vitamin C, into her diet. These vitamins can at least help replace the blood that’s lost during a heavy period. MedlinePlus suggests trying magnesium, calcium and vitamin B6 for pain.
5) Change your diet.
Smith chooses foods that will help reduce inflammation and other issues during her period. This includes eating more vegetables over fatty foods, and cutting out caffeine. She prefers to drink a calming tea, such as peppermint.
6) Take medication as needed.
If your period pain is too much to handle, there are over-the-counter and prescription medication options. These include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin, according to the National Health Service in England.
Some women may find relief by taking oral contraceptive pills. In severe cases, you can talk to your doctor about prescription painkillers.
7) Try various relaxation techniques.
Try yoga or Pilates, which can help distract from period pain and also provide some relaxation, according to the NHS in England. You can also try massaging your lower abdomen in a light, circular pattern.
8) If all else fails, endometrial ablation is an option for excessive bleeding.
Women who are done having children can choose this treatment option, which consists of targeting the uterine lining with very hot or cold temperatures, said Dr. Antonio Pizarro, a gynecologic surgeon specializing in women’s health since 1997.
Reviewed June 18, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
Pizarro, Antonio. Email interview. June 7, 2016.
Smith, Hayley. Email interview. June 7, 2016.
Womenshealth.gov. How do I prevent anemia? Web. June 15, 2016.
MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Painful menstrual periods. Home Care. Web. June 14, 2016.
NHS Choices. Painful periods (dysmenorrhea) – Treatment. Medication. Web. June 15, 2016.