9 Habits To Avoid On Your Period, So You Can Feel Your Best No Matter What

When that time of the month rolls around, it's not uncommon for your normal routine to feel out of whack, which means you have to adjust accordingly. If you want to feel your best and minimize those awful cramps and unwelcome mood wings, you'll want to avoid habits that can worsen your period. Knowing how to take care of yourself can make all the difference in not only making yourself feel better, but improving your health.

"The way your menstruation may affect your day to day routine varies depending upon your period," says Marra Francis, MD, OB/GYN over email. "Many women will find no change at all except needing to visit the restroom more frequently. Some women, however, may have significant changes in their daily routine that may start even before their period begins. Severe mood swings, fatigue, and bloating may prevent women from routine social interactions or outings, routine exercise programs may be affected, and concentration at work may suffer."

To avoid all these pitfalls and keep your body in tip-top shape, it's best to avoid anything that could exacerbate these symptoms or make you feel worse. Here are are 11 habits to avoid when you're on your period.

1. Drinking Caffeine

A cup of coffee might always seem like the cure, but caffeine can worsen many of your symptoms. "Caffeine increases your tension and anxiety levels, constricts blood vessels, and makes your cramps worse," says Sherry Ross, MD, OB/GYN over email.

2. Being A Couch Potato

Working out may seem like the last thing you want to do, but it can actually make you feel better. "Exercise helps gets rid of extra water weight gain, relieves cramps, and releases endorphins, which helps improve your mood and gives you more energy," says Ross.

3. Eating Sugary Foods

It's not uncommon to get a sweet tooth during your period, but try to resist the urge to load up on sugar. "Sugar can trigger cramps and perpetuate hunger cravings," says Ross.

4. Eating Salty Foods

If you're someone who experiences a lot of bloating during your period, you'll want to avoid eating too much salty food. "Salt worsens water retention and bloating," says Ross. Instead, drink lots of water and eat hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables.

5. Waxing

Due for a bikini wax? You might want to wait a week. "It is unclear if it is due to hormone fluctuations or swelling, but many women report increased pain when on their periods, so it is probably better to avoid them during this time," says Sarah Yamaguchi, OB/GYN over email.

6. Not Using Protection

Just because you're on your period doesn't mean you won't get pregnant from unprotected sex. "While you technically should not be able to get pregnant when you are on your menses, the bleeding women have is not always their menstrual cycle," says Yamaguchi. "If your period comes early or late or is different than usual, then be extremely cautious if using the rhythm method to avoid pregnancy."

7. Drinking Alcohol

"Women who need to take medication for cramps, especially medication that contains acetaminophen (Tylenol) should avoid drinking alcohol because it may affect your liver function," says Francis.

8. Giving Yourself A Free Pass To Be Moody

"Although pop culture jokes about PMS and moodiness during menses, PMS and PMDD are actual medical diagnoses and have treatments," says Yamaguchi. "You should not have to feel this way once a month and feel like it’s normal. If your daily life and your relationships are being affected by your cycle it is time to seek counseling from a professional."

9. Leaving Tampons Or Pads On Too Long

"Leaving a tampon in for greater than 8 hours puts you at risk for a rare but severe illness called toxic shock syndrome which can be life threatening," says Yamaguchi. "Leaving a moist pad all day will increase your chances of developing bacterial or yeast infections."

When in doubt, stick to healthy habits so your body can feel it's best during this time of the month.

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