“Only women bleed,” crones a 1970s ballad by Alice Cooper. To which we should say, “Yes. Yes we do.” Call it Aunt Flo, the red tide, the curse, or riding the crimson wave, your period is that time of the month when you’re dealing with cramps that pain and hormones that swing. Sure, maybe there are some women out there who enjoy this completely natural monthly event. If she’d like to identify herself, I’d like to her to show me where Santa Claus lives with the Easter Bunny, next door to the Tooth Fairy of course.
Yes, some sarcasm. Maybe I’m PMS-ing. Or maybe most of us think of our periods via John Hughes’ Sixteen Candles, when Ginny Baker spends most of the film cranky and then completely out of her mind (via painkillers) at her wedding. And all because of her period. Bad menstrual cramps are caused by the normal contraction of the uterus, the result of prostaglandins in the body.
So yes, Aunt Flo isn’t a welcome guest. But there are some easy ways to combat the crimson tide.
Walk it off. Some medical professionals suggest that those who exercise several times a week are less likely to experience bad cramps. Even a quick walk can help ease discomfort, as anything that releases endorphins will help you manage pain.
Hit the heating pad. Heat can help with inflammation and reduce the buildup of fluid in tissues. It also eases muscle spasms. Experts urge us to lie on our stomachs while applying the heat or in the most comfortable position possible.
Sleep. Need an excuse to nap? No time like the painful present. It will take your mind off the pain and let you get some much needed relaxation.
Take a hot bath. This will help you relax your abdomen muscles and, more importantly, soothe your mind. For extra effort, bring out the candles and the scented bath oil. Erbaviva makes a great blend with organic and wild-crafted essential oils.
Consider vitamins and supplements. As Dr. Woodson Merrell of Beth Israel Medical Center told ABC News, consider “taking Evening Primrose Oil in a 500-1000 mg dose once a day in capsule form (available at vitamin shops and health food stores) along with 200-400 mg of magnesium and 100-200 mg of vitamin B6 for four to seven days before the onset of your period.” Be sure to consult a medical professional if you are already on certain medications or experience severe periods.
Drink a cup of tea. Consider a cup of green tea. According to experts, green tea is high in phenolics, which can inhibit cramps. Don’t want the caffeine? Think about a cup of relaxing chamomile tea. Better yet, drink it while you’re in the bath.
Go have sex. Yes, sex on your period not everyone’s cup of tea. But an orgasm will release endorphins and oxytocin in the body that will block pain receptors. You will feel better. And remember, not everyone needs a partner to have an orgasm.