How I got my period under control...somewhat.
^ That has pretty much been my sentiment about periods for...a long time. Probably as long as I've had a period, honestly. And I've had one since I was about 10 years old (so nearly 17 years already!). So, that's 17 years of suffering for about 1-2 days a month! Looking back on it, that's a lot of time spent in the fetal position...
I have had terrible cramps and ungodly bleeding for years. And, I'm talking about - can't go to work because I can't leave bed, take 3 Extra-Strength Advil and still feel pain a few hours later, periods. I'm talking about - bleeding so much that I've become anaemic and felt dizzy and lightheaded periods. It's been pretty rough. And that's not including the PMS....bloating by 10 pounds, irritability, fatigue, crying for no reason, intense anger for a week before my period strikes.
I've learned to live with terrible periods, but that doesn't mean I haven't been looking for some relief. The last few cycles of mine have been fairly easy in comparison, and I'm thinking it's because I've switched a few things up in my life. So, with all that said, here are the ways I've managed to control my period (mostly).
1. My Low Carb Diet
I think this is the biggest factor in the change in my periods, honestly. I have intense cravings (or rather, carb cravings....or chocolate cravings....OKAY, sugar cravings) the week before my period. I find if I focus on eating more healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, butter, cream - then it makes me forget about all the sugar I could be eating. I also up my protein and I don't limit how much of something I can eat. If I want to eat an entire steak, then guess what? I let myself eat an entire steak. I figure that my body is telling me about what it needs for a reason.
So, I try to cut down on my sugar during that time period. However, I found that when I dropped my carbs too low (think under 50g a day), my period would be MIA. So, it was a bit of experimenting to see what worked for me. I try to stay as LC as possible now for the first 2 weeks of my cycle, then in week 3 and 4, introduce healthy sugar. I'm talking about yams, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, and berries. If I want chocolate, I also make sure that I'm buying 90% cocoa chocolate.
So, if you take anything away from this post, take this away: Restrict your processed sugar/fruit intake. Even if you just do it for the week before you get your period. This seems to have helped immensely.
Some people think that women's bodies mimic the seasons. It's no surprise then that getting our periods would be referred to as winter. And what's the best thing to do in the winter? Put on Netflix, grab a hot water bottle, and hibernate. If you're lucky, you can cuddle up with your man and drink some hot chocolate. No one's expecting you to run a marathon in the winter.
So don't expect to run a marathon during your period. Give yourself a break. Have a few more naps than normal. Go to bed on time. Don't do super strenuous activities. Just chill. Have a nice glass of wine and just....let go of your expectations to become the next President this week.
I mean, if you think it rationally, we are literally BLEEDING for hours on end. In my case, I was bleeding nearly a pint of blood over a 24-hour period. And then I was wondering why I was so exhausted. I mean, that's basically the same as donating blood. "Hm, why do I want to sleep all day?" It really took that winter euphemism for it to click in. My body needs to rest during this period, and now I just accept it. I try to slow down my life during this time....and yes, if that means calling in sick, it means calling in sick. If that means telling my friends, "not today," then it does. This is my time to hibernate.
3. Exercise...a bit.
Does that seem like an oxymoron- "Rest but exercise!" In a way, it is. But I'm not talking about trying to set personal PRs this week. In fact, I know that my lifts are going to suffer this week and I've come to accept that (like I said, I'm bleeding profusely from my body soooo...). What you need to do is make sure you're exercising in Week 3. Why? Because it will help with cramps. But instead of focusing on lifting, make sure you're doing aerobic exercise. Go for a quick jog or walk or bike ride. This helps burn off those shitty prostaglandins that cause cramps. If you can manage to get your heart rate up a few times a week before D-Day, you'll have a much better chance of making it through somewhat unscathed.
4. Progesterone Cream.
I'm not an avid user of progesterone cream, but I do use it sporadically around Week 3. I bought a natural yam extract progesterone cream, and I rub it into my forearms, thighs, hands, neck, etc. Women who have terrible periods can have estrogen dominance, and progesterone cream is supposed to help balance with estrogen. This can help with heavy periods and cramping. I do not suggest using this every single day, and make sure that you change the places you're rubbing it every time. Progesterone can get trapped in fat cells, and that can cause an imbalance later on. I do this 3 or 4 days on Week 3, and it has seemed to make an impact on the length of my periods.
5. No Caffeine
I've cut out caffeine, but even before I did that, I stayed the hell away from caffeine during my period. Caffeine is the harbinger of pain and tears during your period if you're prone to cramps. Within one minute of drinking coffee, I would feel as though someone was stabbing me multiple time in the uterus. Definitely for the first few days, stay away from it....but I would go so far as to stay away from it for that entire week. Nothing good comes from your morning Jo.
The best way to prevent having cramps is drugs. Yes, I hate to say it....but as soon as I even feel a TINGE of pain, I go and grab an extra-strength Advil. Unfortunately for me, Advil now makes me really shaky and out-of-it....but, I would prefer to be shaky and out-of-it than in immense amounts of pain. If you're prone to cramps, then you probably already have this down to science but if you don't, then make sure you carry Advil or whatever with you at all times. In your purse, backpack, in your desk at work, etc. This will save your life.
Yes, you read that right. It's actually incredible how helpful orgasms are with cramps. Now, you can choose to do this in two different ways (both with their merits). Because I bleed so heavily, I don't really want to scar my boyfriend permanently/ruin our sheets, so I tend to take care of this myself. However, if you have someone in your life who is down for a little bit of bloody fun, then maybe ask that person to help you out. I swear to God, it's like instant relief after you orgasm. This is my back pocket method if the above medication hasn't kicked in yet.
So all in all, those are my steps for having a (somewhat) happy period. They're not foolproof, but they have managed to make my periods....bearable. It was really bad there for awhile, and I made it through to the other side. I'm no longer bleeding a pint of blood every period or doubled up in pain, so I consider that a win. And yeah, sure....some months are better than others, but for the most part, I can function during my period.
So, tell me, how have you dealt with your periods? What has helped the most for you? I'd love to hear about it. You can leave comments below with any of the gory details. :)
With all that said, happy Wednesday and happy next period!