Periods – they are the bane of womanhood, and it can make us all a little more bitter and on edge when our time comes. The idea that it only occurs around 12 times a year is baffling to me because it always seems that once one has gone the next is around the corner ready to slap you in the face.
I think most of us would agree that we can deal with the blood. That’s not the real issue. The real issue is the dreaded “c” word – cramps. The horrid involuntary muscle spasms that can and will hit you whenever they feel fit. They don’t care if you are sitting in a crucial meeting at work; they wouldn’t even care if you were having tea with the queen. So here are some tips and tricks that won’t make you want to curl up and roll over to the nearest blanket.
Warmth – and lots of it
When you can sense the oncoming cramps, arm yourself with warmth. This can either be by having a nice warm bath or getting a hot water bottle. The warmth will be able to ease and relax the cramping muscles which can reduce or get rid of the pain completely. However, if you find yourself at work and unable to do these things, you could possibly get a warm cup of tea and press is next to your belly for a little while, just make sure you have clothing in the way so you don’t burn yourself. This isn’t as effective as a hot water bottle but it may ease the pain slightly.
However, if you are a bit more prepared for your period get heat pads. You can find these in some pharmacies or chemists and they will be sticky pads that you can stick to the area where you get cramps or pain. This is a great thing to carry around if you are on holiday or travelling, or even if you have trouble sleeping when on your period.
Massage – distract yourself
If you don’t have any other form of relief then massaging the cramping areas can often provide beneficial. By doing this, although you are thinking about getting rid of your cramps, you are also thinking how to massage and this can distract you from the actual pain.
Also, just like applying warmth to a muscle, rubbing and massaging a muscle can relax the muscle, making the cramps ease or go away completely. This is also the same for leg cramps that many of us get whilst going to bed.
Be Happy – Don’t worry
Now sometimes being happy and just relaxing just can’t happen. You might be caught up with stuff at work or you have to get the bills paid before the end of the week. But your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and quite often if you look after one the other will flourish. So the next time you are on your period, block out a set amount of time. It doesn’t have to be too long and what you do should be something that makes you happy. This will release chemicals into your brain, called endorphins. These make you feel happier and will make you not pay as much attention to the cramps. There is a reason laughter is the best medicine.
Use hormonal contraception – it can regulate your period
If you find that you have quite a heavy period or a very irregular period you can take combined hormonal contraceptives (CHCs). These include 'the pill', the patch or the ring. These can make your period less frequent and also not as heavy which can help a lot. However, do talk to your doctor before using the CHC for period regulation.
Find what is best for you
In the end, how you deal with your period is up to you. Even though all women have a period at some point it doesn’t mean we all feel the same things. As time goes on you will understand what is best for you - although I would always advise having some pads and painkillers at work just to be prepared.
However, my one last piece of advice: don’t be embarrassed to talk about it.