Although periods are a very natural and vital part of a woman’s ecosystem, many social taboos are associated with it since ancient times. Every girl faces a barrage of questions, long list of do’s and don’ts at the very onset of her menstrual cycle. Consequently, girls have been bearing all the physical and mental agony in silence, since ages. Thankfully, times are changing and a lot of myths related to menstruation in our society are being busted by the advancement of medical sciences.
Medically, during each menstrual cycle, the uterus contracts to expel its lining causing a lot of hormonal changes in our body. The body of each woman reacts differently towards these changes. For some periods may cause just a little discomfort, for others daily activities may get significantly affected during these painful days.
Yes, there are some activities that you must avoid, while you are on your period and there are some activities that can alleviate your period related problems. So, instead of blindly following traditions, let’s talk about what are medically proven do’s and don’ts for us during the periods.
1. Avoid these foods
Keep a sincere check on your daily intake of food. Unknowingly, we may eat many food items which can aggravate our PMS symptoms. For example all dairy products contain arachidonic acid. This acid can cause more cramping in the lower abdomen. The high sodium content in canned and packaged food can also worsen your cramps. You must completely eliminate Alcohol, carbonated & caffeinated drinks from your diet, as they can worsen your pain, water retention, insomnia and mood swings. One must also limit the intake of sweets, junk food, trans fats and saturated fats, to keep the blood sugar levels under control.
2. Avoid heavy workouts or physical work
From stomach cramps to back ache; to the roller coaster of emotions, your body goes through a lot during those days. So you must take due care of our own self and give a miss to heavy workouts and physical work. Heavy physical activity can not only leave your body exhausted and dehydrated, but in extreme cases it can lead to loss of one’s period.
3. Avoid sad or romantic movies
The much highlighted part of periods – “mood swings”; yes you might have observed yourself the flow of emotions is so different during those days. The hormonal imbalance in your body can increase your anger, irritability and anxiety attacks. Watching sad and romantic movies generally take you through a roller coaster ride of emotions. So it will be better if you can give it a miss to such kind of movies. You can and in fact should go for a comedy movie and laugh your way through those painful days.
4. Avoid using vaginal wash
Nature has endowed vagina with its own cleaning mechanism, which can work in a very fine balance of good and bad bacteria. Using a vaginal wash or soap near the vagina can disturb its natural ph levels and results in washing away of the good bacteria. Just warm water is enough to do the job. Try to keep the area clean and dry to avoid rashes and infections. Any medicated product should be used only on gynecologist’s recommendation.
5. Avoid painful appointments
The reduced levels of Estrogen can make your body oversensitive. So all the procedures like waxing and shaving can make you feel more hurt and leave your skin red. It will be better if you can postpone them for a week or so. Dental appointments should also be scheduled accordingly.
6. Avoid Unprotected Sex
It is one of the biggest myths that one can’t get pregnant during period. You can not only get pregnant but there also high chances of infections. Thus you must avoid intercourse, while you are on your periods.
1. Eat healthy food
Just like faulty food habits can worsen the PMS symptoms, similarly the right food can help you overcome these symptoms as well. Foods rich in magnesium, calcium, vitamin B6 and omega 3 fatty acids can alleviate a number of period related problems. Include green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, fresh fruits, and wholegrain into your daily diet. Different varieties of teas like ginger tea or peppermint tea can also help to reduce inflammation, cramping, nausea, and irritability. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Dark chocolates are also recommended during periods for their high magnesium content.
2. Maintain Hygiene
Hygiene is very much necessary during periods mainly because you are more prone to getting infected. Hot water can reduce inflammation & cramping and it also minimizes the chances of infection. Changing your protection every 3-4 hours is a must, regardless of their claims of providing all day long protection. Keeping your pelvic area clean and dry can help you avoid a number of problems from rashes to urinary tract infections as well.
3. Exercise Regularly
Though rigorous exercises should be avoided in those days but that doesn’t mean that you have to take complete rest. There are a few exercises that are recommended during menstrual days as they can provide relief from period-related anxiety, fatigue, backaches and headaches. Brisk walking, aerobics, dancing all are good unless you don’t push yourself hard. Aim at 30 minutes of work out each day. Yoga is also a good option as long as you are not trying any inverted asans that require you to stand on your head.
4. Take Proper rest
One should take proper rest, more so during these days. If you aren’t able to sleep properly snuggling up to a hot water bottle may ease the discomfort. Taking healthy diet at correct timings will enhance the quality of your sleep. Don’t assume that you will have a lighter flow at night and take due precautions, so that you can get a sound sleep. Allow yourself to take breaks in between your work during the day so that you can stay energetic throughout.
5. Consult your gynecologist
You must consult your gynecologist at the right time, if required. There is no particular symptom to tell you if you need to see a doctor, but if you see sudden changes in your body regarding the PMS symptoms, then it is time to do so.
I have observed that many a time ladies avoid breastfeeding during periods. I would like to tell you it is absolutely safe to breastfeed during periods. Your body continue to make milk and nothing changes during periods. Moreover, if you’ll avoid breastfeeding in such case your baby may fell ill and so may you.
Following these do’s and don’ts will surely help you in dealing with PMS symptoms. Yes you can touch the pickle, you can enter the kitchen. There’s no need to get locked up in the room, you must have fun. Just listen to your body and go easy on yourself. Opt for the right food and right activities as per your PMS symptoms and stay fit throughout the month.
A full time work from home mother, she utilises her spare time to contribute insightful articles around day to day lifestyle challenges and their remedies, that all can relate to. Trust Aafiya to provide apt advice on diet mechanism, nutritional facts and common home remedies.
Away from writing, Aafiya is statistics post graduate, has worked earlier in the field of Research & Education and loves travelling.