Let’s talk about periods and period symptoms! Periods are completely normal. Although it feels uncomfortable to talk about your period, the reality is, all women have to go through it.
Unfortunately, when “that time of the month” comes around, it brings along a list of unwelcomed symptoms. Although completely normal, these symptoms can be painful, distracting, and annoying!
I wanted to talk about how to alleviate period symptoms on Big Sister Blog. The purpose of Big Sister Blog is to provide advice to young women navigating the challenges of adulthood. I know that periods can be tough, and I also know that it can be uncomfortable to physically ask someone for advice or help. Hopefully, this blog can provide some tips on how to get through your period and its toughest symptoms!
Disclaimer – I am not an Expert!
The purpose of this article is to provide advice on how to alleviate symptoms. I am not qualified to diagnose your symptoms or provide proper medical advice for your symptoms. I will simply be providing personal advice from my own experience in relieving period symptoms. If you are concerned about your symptoms, I would recommend consulting a doctor or doing further research.
Periods in General
According to Medical News Today, most periods last between 4-8 days. However, this duration may vary depending on the individual – factors such as age, weight, physical activity, medications, and birth control can affect the term of your period or menstrual cycle.
The typical cycle length can vary across the individual, but the average cycle is 25-28 days (roughly 1 month). If your cycle is longer or shorter that doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t healthy. For example, my cycle is usually 21-24 days long. If your cycle is substantially different than the average length, consider consulting your doctor.
Tracking Your Period
Tracking your period can be helpful for many reasons. This is especially true when you’ve first gotten your period. You can use a journal or calendar to do this or download an app that can help you track the timing and symptoms more effectively.
The first reason to track your period is to better understand your cycle. If you track your period, you can input the day your period started and ended. That way you can see not only how long your period is, but how long your cycle is. The length of your cycle would be the number of days from when one of your periods starts to the time your next period starts. This could help you plan to wear certain outfits (avoid white bottoms or underwear you don’t want to be ruined) and to have extra supplies (tampons, pads, etc.) on hand for the few days you are anticipating your period.
Another benefit of tracking your period is the ability to track symptoms. Many women experience symptoms before their period, during, and after. Even during your period, the symptoms may change on a daily basis. In my experience, my own period’s symptoms tend to be the worst on days 1 through 3. If you track the symptoms you experience, you will know what to expect for your next cycle.
Common Period Symptoms
The list of period symptoms you will experience really depends on the individual. According to yourperiod.ca, most women experience mild symptoms in the first 1-2 days of their period. Although there are possibly hundreds of symptoms that could be attributed to menstruation, I’ll list some of the most common symptoms that young women experience according to yourperiod.ca.
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle aches
- Tender breasts
- Joint pain
- Lower back pain
- Bloating (fluid retention)
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Low energy, fatigue
- Trouble sleeping
Although these symptoms are unfortunate, we all have to go through them. I have experienced each of these symptoms at some point in the past 7 years of having my period. I typically experience only a few symptoms per cycle, but the specific symptoms I face will fluctuate throughout the months.
Symptoms that Come Before Your Period
According to Healthline, more than 90% of women experience premenstrual syndrome to some degree. However, “the true incidence of PMS has often been overestimated by including all women who experience any physical or emotional symptoms prior to menstruation. It is estimated that clinically significant PMS occurs in 20% to 30% of women” (MedicineNet). Nevertheless, most women experience some degree of symptoms before their period starts.
Premenstrual syndrome is the occurrence of symptoms anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks before your period starts. This is believed to occur due to a change in hormones. These symptoms are typically mild in most women, but if they happen to be severe, consider consulting a doctor (Healthline). below are some of the most common symptoms according to Healthline and MedicineNet.
- Abdominal cramps
- Breakouts (acne)
- Tender breasts
- Bloating (due to fluid retention)
- Bowel issues
- Mood swings and mood-related symptoms
- Anger and irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lower back pain
- Musculoskeletal pains
- Trouble sleeping
- Sleeping too much
- Sleeping too little (insomnia)
- Weight gain
- Appetite changes
Symptoms – the Takeaway
As you can see, the list of symptoms seems never-ending! However, it’s important to note that many of these symptoms are completely normal. If you’re feeling off during your period, you can typically attribute that feeling towards one of the many period symptoms. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms to a severe extent, consider consulting a doctor.
I will now walk through some home remedies and things I personally do to feel better and alleviate my period and PMS symptoms. Think of it simply as a friend helping you out and giving non-expert advice.
Relieving Your Period Symptoms
So, how can you relieve those uncomfortable period symptoms? Once again, this is my non-expert advice. I will be sharing how I’ve personally relieved some of my symptoms in the past, while also sharing some other at-home remedies I’ve found through friends and external research.
Advice from Friends
I posted a story on my Instagram asking what other young women do to help alleviate their period symptoms. I will keep this anonymous for privacy, but here are some of the most popular answers I got.
- Using a heating pad or hot water bottle
- Moving to help with body aches and soreness
- Doing Yoga
- Keeping your feet warm (wearing socks)
- Taking magnesium
- Taking a hot bath with Epsom salts
- Walking and/or exercising
- Ordering fast food and watching movies in bed
- Taking primrose oil supplements
- Listening to sad songs
- Maybe: trying the Blume Cloud 9
Thank you to everyone who shared their advice and tips!
Listed below are a few remedies I’ve personally used to help alleviate my period symptoms.
- Advil (ibuprofen) or Tylenol (acetaminophen)
- Helps alleviate my headaches, abdominal cramps, and body aches
- Walking, playing sports, lifting weights, doing yoga, or going for a run
- Any type of exercise or movement helps my body feel better and boosts my mood
- Yoga is especially helpful because it promotes breathing and stretching
- Heating pad
- A heating pad is helpful to put on your lower back to soothe any aches or pain you might have
- Also helpful to place on your abdomen to alleviate cramping
- Drinking water
- Drinking fluids help your body stay hydrated and healthy during your period
- Hot bath
- Hot baths are good for helping relieve body aches and abdominal cramps
- Light some candles, add some Epsom salts, and lay back & relax!
- Rest and proper sleep
- I try to get 7-8 hours of sleep on my period to stay energized
- Proper rest helps with fatigue and stress
- Hormonal birth control
- I am not recommending anyone to use/not use birth control, but simply in my own experience, the hormonal IUD has alleviated many of my period symptoms, making them much lighter and more manageable
- Talk with your doctor if you are considering hormonal birth control
- Drinking tea
- Once again, something warm to relax my body and soothe my muscles
- Good to drink fluids
- Eating healthy
- Although I do give in to my cravings (ice cream and cookies), I try my best to also include some healthy foods in my daily diet to fuel my body and help with fatigue
- Although it’s good to be active, I also recommend taking it easy sometimes
- I relax by listening to music, watching TV shows, talking to my friends, etc.
Other Home Remedies for Period Symptoms
These last tips consist of some at-home remedies I found through external research. This research was done through Healthline‘s article Home Remedies to Relieve Menstrual Pain. Check out their website for a more detailed analysis of what I’ve summarized below. Credit goes to the Healthline Editorial Team.
- Take Over the Counter (OTC) medicines
- “Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the primary over-the-counter (OTC) form of pain relief recommended for menstrual pain and heavy menstrual bleeding. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve)”.
- Apply heat
- Apply heat to your abdomen and lower back to relieve pain
- Use a hot water bottle or heating pad
- Massage therapy with essential oils (30 mins)
- Having an orgasm (alone or with a partner)
- “Vaginal orgasms involve your whole body, including your spinal cord, which signals the release of neurotransmitters. A vaginal orgasm can trigger your brain to release neurotransmitters such as endorphins and oxytocin. Endorphins can decrease pain perception.”
- Avoiding certain foods
- Avoid foods that cause bloating and water retention (fatty foods, alcohol, carbonated beverages, caffeine, and salty foods)
- Avoiding these foods can help with relieving cramps
- Adding certain herbs to your diet
- Herbs that contain anti-inflammatory compounds
- Healthy lifestyle changes
- Drinking water, exercising, and yoga
Don’t forget – your period, and all of its lovely symptoms, are completely normal. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask a trusted friend or family member for advice and guidance. If you are worried about any of your period symptoms, make sure to consult a doctor.
Thank you again for reading this post on Big Sister Blog! Hopefully, you will be able to use some of this advice to alleviate your worst period symptoms. Make sure to stay tuned for our future posts on other content for young women.