Let's be real: no one enjoys when their period hits. It's a fact of life and a sign your body is doing what it is supposed to do and yada-yada-yada — we get it. As true as those things may be, it doesn't make the actual having of the periods suck any less. As such, there exists certain genius period hacks every person who menstruates should know. While these, ahem, bloody brilliant tips and tricks won't magically make periods more fun, they will at least lessen the dull roar inside of you that occurs in conjunction with menses each month.
After all, people who menstruate spend on average 2,280 days menstruating over the course of their lifetime. That's a lot o' days — roughly 6.25 years, in fact — to spend curled up on the couch cursing the universe. Fortunately, the stigma surrounding periods is slowly lifting, opening up an important dialogue and leading the development of new products aimed at making periods easy on people who menstruate. Coupled with tried-and-true tricks for dealing with mean old Aunt Flo, periods can almost be bearable these days.
If you're looking to add a few solid period hacks to keep your uterus in check on the brutal days, here are some solutions that should be of assistance.
1. Download a Period-Tracking App
No matter how much you normally love surprises, no one loves being surprised by their period. However, keeping track of your monthly visits can easily be overlooked among the hustle and bustle of every day life. Enter, a period-tracking app. The benefits to downloading one of these babies are numerous, including reminders about removing your tampon and giving you a heads up every month when the crimson tide is about to roll through.
2. Take Pain Relievers Ahead of Time
You might not like to admit it often, but your mother is usually right. I brushed it off in high school when my mom told me to start taking ibuprofen a few days before my period started but, lo and behold, the lady knows her stuff — ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory, so it can reduce pain and bloating.
3. Have an Orgasm (or Three)
C'mon, we're all grown-ups here and, yes, period sex can get messy. But it really isn't that messy — certainly not enough to deter me from multiple orgasms. Plus, having sex releases all kinds of feel good hormones like endorphins and oxytocin, it's nature's pain-killer.
4. Try a Menstrual Cup
A former lifelong tampon user, I converted to a menstrual cup last year and truly can't imagine every going back. My only regret is that I didn't actually get on board with this sooner. In full disclosure, it does require a very hands-on approach, but it's worth it to not have to change that sucker out for a stretch of 12 hours.
5. Wear Period-Friendly Panties
Believe it or not, tossing every pair of period-tinged panties in the trash is not a viable way to deal with unfortunate menstrual mistakes. Think of all the money you're throwing away! Instead, check out period panties — they're comfortable and leak-resistant.
6. Work Up a Sweat
Like getting a little frisky, exercise can help relieve period pain by releasing warm and fuzzies in the form of endorphines. Not only that, but exercise can actually work to reduce PMS systems like bloating and cramping. Woohoo!
7. Drink a Ton of Water
Get yourself a big water bottle and go to town drinking that agua, because it could mean less period pain. Cramps are caused by the uterus contracting, and being dehydrated causes muscles to tight up and contract even more. Drinking plenty of water can decrease both period pain and the bloating associated with water retention.
8. Nosh on Some Dark Chocolate
I know what you're thinking — is this too good to be true? Rest assured, friend, it's not. As long as you pick a chocolate that is at least 60 percent cacao, you're all good. When you're on your period, your magnesium levels drop, and that can cause you to crave all sorts of unhealthy snacks. Noshing on dark chocolate boosts your serotonin levels so you nip cravings.
9. Or Down a Bit of Ginger
If you're going to cozy up to an all natural remedy, chugging a cup of ginger-infused tea (or just eating it in slices, if you can handle it) could be just the ticket. Among ginger's many benefits are soothing the stomach and reducing inflammation. So, basically, it's a one-two punch for cramps and bloating.
10. Keep a PMS Kit in Your Car
If your period does happen to get the best of you and pop up during an unfortunate moment, you'l be happy you took my advice and put together a PMS kit. Stock it with things like an extra pair of undies, some ibuprofen.
11. Have a Portable Heating Pad Handy
Heat feels amazing when you're hurting, making the heating pad your BFF during especially bad period cramps. Since you won't always have easy access to an outlet, consider putting together a portable heating pad made using an old tube sock filled with rice. After a few minutes in the microwave, your "rice sock" will come out ready to soothe.
12. Try Meat Tenderizer to Remove Stains
Period stains happen to the best of us, despite our efforts to keep leakage at bay (although hey, if it happens, it happens — nothing to be ashamed about, no matter what society might want you to think). Enter, meat tenderizer. According to writer Jolie Kerr, all you have to do is sprinkle the stain with unseasoned meat tenderizer (the powered, herb rack kind) and add water to make a paste. Let it sit for around half an hour before your launder and then — voila! — your undies prove worthy of not being trashed just because of a little ol' stain.