Having periods is always a stressful time, and it’s no fun at all. People who experience periods would get symptoms such as cramps, change in appetite, digestion, bloating, discomfort in their body, and change in emotions. Hence, taking care of your menstrual health or period care is about your physical, mental, and social well-being aside from the absence of diseases related to menstruation.
What Is Menstruation (Period)?
Menstruation or period is when individuals shed their uterus lining and blood out of their vagina every month. Menstrual cycle and period are controlled by your hormones which are estrogen and progesterone. Period usually starts between the age of 11 to 14 and will continue until menopause, around 50 years old. Worry not, menstruation doesn’t last forever. It usually lasts from 3 to 5 days. Some of the common symptoms of period are:
- Period cramps, abdominal pain
- Food cravings
- Headache, fatigue
- Lower back pain, body ache, sore breast
- Mood swings
Self-HelpRemedies / Tips For Menstrual Health
1.Fibres Is Your Best Friend.
Getting enough fibre into your diet can drastically improve your menstrual health. During menstruation, the majority would experience constipation and bloat, and it is not a fatal inconvenience. Still, it is annoying. Menstrual pain alone is irritable enough, but having such symptoms would only add fuel to the fire. During menstruation, our hormonal shift causes our body to retain water more. This would impair your digestion, leading to constipation and producing a lot of air, giving a bloated feel.
Taking about 25g to 30g of dietary fibre a day is enough to aid in your digestion and clearing those bad boys out. However, consuming only fibre is not enough in relieving constipation and bloating. It needs to be paired with drinking enough water, which leads to my next point.
2. Get Sufficient Hydration
This is probably the most important period tip for period care, which is drinking enough water. During menstruation, your body requires more water than usual; Your body needs extra water for recovering from the literal blood that was lost.
But you mentioned that I would have water retention. Doesn’t that mean that I have more water in my body?
Our body retains water because of the lack of water in our body (dehydration). Your body saves water in your body cells in case of emergency. Hence, drinking enough water can help in reducing water retention in your body and minimise puffiness/bloating. It is recommended to consume 2 litres of water or around eight glasses of water during your menstruation.
3. Get Moving
With all the pent up frustration from menstruation, it is always nice to release that stress through exercise. Not only does it provide dopamine and serotonin to help you relax and be in a better mood, but it also gets your gut moving, which improves digestion, reduces bloating, and sweat out water retention.
It is recommended to perform 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity five times a week.
Here is an example of exercises that you can do
Here are some stretches that could help in relieving your cramps and reduce bloating
4. Gut Health Is Key
Your gut health may not be the leading cause of your menses symptoms, but it can play a role in reducing the symptoms of menstruation. Having a healthy gut can reduce bloating and water retention by maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. The help of good bacterias breaking down your food and aiding in nutrient absorption can relieve bloating and reduce constipation.
Of course, your gut health could influence your hormone level as well. According to research, menses and emotional and physical symptoms are closely linked. About 156 women with poorer gut health experience more physical symptoms and are more depressed. One of the ways to improve your gut health is by consuming enough fibres or prebiotic as they are also a food source for good bacterias in your gut. Consuming probiotics could help balance your gut microbiome and improve gut health, especially for those who have digestive issues during menstruation. YourGutt provides a 2 in 1 solution, where we formulate prebiotic and probiotic in a sachet to be consumed directly. It is convenient and delicious as it comes with mango and chocolate flavour.
5. Get Comfortable
Sometimes, you just need to cut yourself some slack during your menstruation and give in to your cravings. Wearing your most comfortable clothes and a hot mug of chocolate and watching some romcoms, chick flicks, and crying is as good of a way of going through your menstruation. Of course, it would be best to avoid consuming too much sugar and other guilty pleasures as they may not be healthy for the long run since menses are monthly.
Here are some classic movies you can watch while cuddling with your heat pad:
- Mean Girls
- Legally Blonde
- White Chicks
- Princess Diaries
- The Devil Wears Prada
- Me Before You
However, suppose you experience irregular menstruation or extreme menstruation symptoms such as severe period pain, heavy menstrual bleeding and feverishness. In that case, it is best to consult a doctor as they may be Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) or dysmenorrhea.
Bernstein, M., Graff, L., Avery, L., Palatnick, C., Parnerowski, K., & Targownik, L. (2014). Gastrointestinal symptoms before and during menses in healthy women. BMC Women’s Health, 14(1). doi: 10.1186/1472-6874-14-14
Hennegan, J., Winkler, I., Bobel, C., Keiser, D., Hampton, J., & Larsson, G. et al. (2021). Menstrual health: a definition for policy, practice, and research. Sexual And Reproductive Health Matters, 29(1), 1911618. doi: 10.1080/26410397.2021.1911618
Managing your Period. (2021). Retrieved 11 October 2021, from https://www.familyplanning.org.nz/advice/periods/managing-your-period
Mohebbi Dehnavi, Z., Jafarnejad, F., & Sadeghi Goghary, S. (2018). The effect of 8 weeks aerobic exercise on severity of physical symptoms of premenstrual syndrome: a clinical trial study. BMC Women’s Health, 18(1). doi: 10.1186/s12905-018-0565-5
What is Menstruation? | Get Facts About Having Your Period. (2021). Retrieved 11 October 2021, from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/health-and-wellness/menstruation