It’s the dreaded time…you and all the people around you tense up & tip toe around attempting not to wake the inevitable beast. Your period. PMS & your menstrual cycle have always been one of those hush hush topics. But why, because it’s gross? Ladies, it’s natural….personally, I feel like it’s just a reminder how tough us women & our bodies are. Guys can’t do this stuff! In this week’s post I’m going to give you ways on how to deal with the most painful & emotional time of your month, in the healthiest and most holistic way possible, as well as products to use.
First of all…what is PMS?
Premenstrual Syndrome refers to the physical and emotional symptoms that occur 1-2 weeks before your period. There’s over 100 physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms ranging from abdominal bloating, cramps, depression, tension/migraine headaches, irritability, fluid retention, change in appetite, etc. During that time it is crucial to take care of Y-O-U! There are several ways to do so…
Yoga is my go to. Doing some mild stretching helps me & my body get into a better place for the week.
- Studies have shown that regular exercise relieves breast tenderness, fluid retention, as well as stress.
- Exercise stimulates the production of the brain’s natural substances that causes us to feel better & have less pain.
2. Work on Stress Management.
Be good to yourself!
- Reduce/ eliminate stressful events & undertakings (tough, I know…but you can do it!)
- Plan relaxing activities
- Chat with friends, having emotional support & having people know what to expect from you that week is key crucial.
- Rest (catch those zzzzz…)
3. Watch Your Diet.
- It’s best to eat low fat, balanced meals that supply plenty of protein. (Doesn’t mean to go eat “low fat” boxed stuff, no no!) This includes meat, dairy, fish, and eggs. If intolerant or vegan try. Hemp seeds, beans & legumes, peas, and brown rice.
- Limit salt (For a salt addict like myself, this is difficult) By limiting your salt it will decrease the swelling of hands and feet, reduce overall bloating, as well breast tenderness
- Eliminate foods & drinks that contain caffeine, yes…even chocolate. (oh, the humanity!)
- Stay away from tobacco & alcohol, using during those 1-2 weeks can actually worsen symptoms
- Eat more complex carbs like cereals, vegetables & fibers such as root veggies, fruits and whole grains. Eating carb rich meals will reduce the cravings for sugar, which is great since you should really eat less refined sugar, such as table sugar.
- Try calcium supplements, they can help moodiness, as well as reduce water retention and pain.
….so now your PMS stage is over & on comes the real deal. How do we naturally overcome this when all we really want to do is pop a bunch of ibuprofen, eating bags of bread & cry for days?
First let’s conquer the cramps…menstrual cramps are a result of when prostaglandin hormones trigger your muscles in your uterus to contract in order to squeeze out the menstrual blood. Sounds painful? Well duh, it is. Sounds like you’re a tough cookie? You betchya! Some people rarely, if not ever have cramps. Some others, like myself, feel like a little demon baby is etching the abc’s into your lady land. I encourage you to try these holistic approaches before resorting to ibuprofen or other pain medications to assist. If unbearable, reach out to your primary doctor.
There are a few great ways to help that painful cramping without having to worry about what you’re putting into your body.
1. Heat- this is my go-to for cramps. Microwave a corn heating pack, an electric one, whatever works for you and lay with it across your lower stomach near your pelvic bone.
2. Drink water- staying hydrated helps keep your body from retaining water & helps eliminate boating. Warm/hot water is usually better for cramps.
3. Essential Oils- within the past year this has been a new one for me that has become a lifesaver, they go with me everywhere during my cycle. Depending on which brand you prefer, they may have ones specifically for the time of the month. Otherwise, you may have to play around a bit as well to see what works for you, some prefer lavender, some prefer cinnamon, eucalyptus, peppermint, or even motherwort. Apply several drops on to the painful area, and even perhaps the back & then apply heat if able.
Just Plain Relief! – Veriditas Botanicals. I purchase at my local Co Op is a premixed bottle that combines helichrysum, peppermint, lavender, and clove.
Menstrual Cramp Formula–Veriditas Botanicals. I purchase at my local Co Op is a premixed bottle that combines anise, roman chamomile, sweet marjoram, and lavender.
Now that the pain is covered, let’s talk about the icky stuff…what we use to catch it. As someone who loves saving money, these were amazing purchases. I was extremely happy when I saw my local organic Co Op sold some great alternatives. Unfortunately they don’t carry the item I’m about to brag about anymore, they still carry organic tampons & pads but that is still putting something into the ground and continuously spending money as well. According to Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation, the average woman throws away 250-300 POUNDS of pads, tampons & applicators in her lifetime. As someone who attempts to be as eco-friendly as possible, I refuse to be a part of that. Now, some people may feel grossed out about reusing items for such a topic. If so, understandable. I highly encourage you to then look into organic & biodegradable feminine products then such as Cora , Veeda , and Natracare. Not many companies make chlorine-free, biodegradable, feminine products, so using non-reusable ones maybe more pricey but are always worth seeking out.
When it comes to pads, I’ve only ever relied on one brand of fabric & I promise on my 6th grade unibrow that I will not try another. I’m sure there are some other fantastic ones but I am a loyal shopper after years of satisfied purchases from Party In My Pants. Party In My Pants brand has so many great things about it…
a) Clever name…I mean, come on!
b) Seriously fantastic patterns & fabrics
c) Different style ranging from normal flow, overnight, micro liners, and even thong
d) Amazing prices for products that last so long…saves you so much money & helps the environment
e) Can purchase in kits & even get a free one as a trial!
I’ve seen many women cringe when I tell them that I use reusable fabric pads. “How do you wash it? Do you just sit in it all day? Doesn’t it smell?” Legitimate questions asked and I’m here to tell you the answers… I wash them all together in a Norwex laundry bag, usually cold water. I always carry another one (just like you do with regular pads), you can simply snap them up and tuck them away until you’re at home to wash it. And no, it does not smell, keeping a good vaginal hygiene and washing them after each use will help with that.
Now onto the tampons… don don dooooooon. Along with the links that I provided earlier of more eco & body friendly products, there are sure to be more in your local organic Co-Ops. Ask questions there, there is usually someone who is head of the body care section and can point you to some great options. For myself, I was so sick and tired of using so many tampons. I felt guilt every time I simply just tossed one away. TMI but, I have always had a heavier flow and so that number of tampons was always large. One day I decided to go and purchase the Diva Cup. I am not kidding when I say it was one of the best purchases I have made. The Diva Cup is not made of a latex or plastic. It is made of the same silicone material and grade approved for applications in healthcare. It is accepted into the body without adverse reaction, durable, flexible to the shape of your entry, and very easy to sterilize. The Diva Cup is much more comfortable then wearing a tampon, I do not worry about it leaking like tampons, and I never have to worry that I don’t have what I need when it starts.
The only issues I have had with the cup is I feel like the nub to pull it out is a bit short but if you grasp a little farther up it comes out smoothly and doesn’t spill. Also, you obviously need to strategically empty it places (definitely not a biggie). It makes more sense to empty it at home before work or somewhere with a private bathroom, rather than dumping it out in a bathroom stall and then attempting to go rinse it out. Luckily, the Diva Cup can hold a lot and you can wear it up to 12 hours. If purchasing I warn you to look at the label!! Model 1, is for women under 30 or haven’t had any births. Model 2 is for women over & has had vaginal or c section births. There are other brands of silicone vaginal cups but I have not tried them.
So now for a mini rant…go back to that number I mentioned earlier about how many pounds of applicators & such we throw away in our life time. It’s a lot, huh? If that doesn’t make you begin to question what we are putting into our ground how about thinking about what we’ve been putting into ourselves? After years and years of using chemical ridden products inside of us, our body is going to soaking a large amount of it in. Dr Joseph Mercola wrote that conventional pads contain the equivalent of about 4 plastic bags. We have all learned a lot in the past few years about plastic chemicals and its hazardous nature. So why would we use those on the most delicate part of our body? Some well-known, big brand (non-organic and non- biodegradable) use chemicals that are linked to cancer, organ damage, bacteria growth, odor neutralizers, and even chlorine bleach. You lovely ladies don’t deserve that! Take care of yourself, from the PMS, to the cramps & healthier choices on products.
Now that I have hopefully filled your brain with new knowledge & an excitement on how to tackle your monthly madness with natural & healthy ways. Enjoy the sunshine & until next time..
**I am not writing reviews in behalf of the companies, I am simply writing as a person on their own holistic & ecofriendlu journey.
Information came from Huffpost.com, 999 Little-Known Natural Healing Foods and Proven Home Remedies, Nutricures , and Websites of these companies