7 Ways to Better Manage your Menstrual Cycle - Women's Health

7 Ways to Better Manage your Menstrual Cycle

#Periodhacks

by | Aug 9, 2021

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Menstruation plays a pretty significant role in a woman’s life – in fact, when you think about it, the very existence of humanity depends on Aunt Flo coming to visit. Yet despite this, most women dread the arrival of their period due to the physical, mental, and emotional impact this time of the month can have.

Period pain is one of the biggest challenges for many women when it comes to their period. Pain such as abdominal cramps can be debilitating and distressing, leaving us confined to our beds or couches when we’d much rather be doing… well, anything else, really. 

“Period pain is caused by the uterus contracting in order to expel its lining,” says pharmacist Montana Grenfell.

“Prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances involved in pain and inflammation, trigger the uterine muscle contractions, creating discomfort. The reason some cramps are more severe than others is due to the level of prostaglandins – higher levels of prostaglandins result in more pain.”

The cramps, fatigue and discomfort (not to mention the emotional rollercoaster!) can lead to a seriously unpleasant experience, and while there’s no denying periods are tough, there are ways to make that time of the month a little less dreadful.

Here some products and remedies to help you better manage your cycle.

Period tech

Period pain relief has come a long way since hot water bottles and heat packs. Remember all the days you spent curled up on the couch, missing out on some exciting event and wishing you could just switch off your cramps? Well, now it’s possible. New devices are helping women cope with painful and often debilitating menstrual cramps, using innovative technology that employs micro-pulses that activate the body’s natural pain control.

Designed to be worn under clothing, these pad shaped devices stick directly to your abdomen, providing relief within a matter of minutes. Once attached the pulses from the device overload your nerves, blocking the pain signals sent to your brain, and cancelling out all discomfort. 

Try: Ovira Nora, RRP $189.00. Available at https://ovira.com.au/

Natural supplements

Your time of the month can be pretty harrowing for a number of reasons: mood swings, headaches, bloating, cravings, digestive upset, and of course, those dreaded cramps. If you’re someone who suffers from particularly unpleasant periods, it could be worth considering natural remedies like vitamin supplements to support reproductive health and hormones.

Vitamins like magnesium allow you to absorb important energy from foods, keeping our muscles and nerves healthy. Taken in the lead up to your period, magnesium can greatly assist with the severity of cramps experienced. B vitamins, on the other hand, can reduce pain through supporting vital bodily functions such as your metabolism, immune system and importantly the nervous system. Zinc has also been found to assist with menstrual cramps by working to reduce swelling and inflammation.

Of course, you should always speak to your GP before starting any new supplements or medications.

Try: JSHealth Vitamins Hormone + PMS Support Formula (60 tablets), RRP $49.99. Available at jshealthvitamins.com

Menstrual cups

If you’ve been thinking about trying a menstrual cup but haven’t yet made the switch, consider this your sign! Not only are menstrual cups better for the environment and more cost effective in the long run, but many cup converts also report greater comfort, fewer changes, and in some cases, lessened period pain.

A cup can last up to 12 hours, meaning fewer trips to the bathroom – which is especially helpful if you’re traveling, working a long shift, or if the available facilities are far from ideal! Once used, simply tip the contents into the toilet and rinse, before inserting again. While not a form of pain relief, menstrual cups can help by minimising the hassle of dealing with a heavy flow. They’re also a brilliant option for anyone with sensitive skin, and in some cases, can be beneficial for sufferers of endometriosis. You’ll almost forget it’s that time of the month. 

Try: The TOM Organic Period Cup, RRP $40.00. Available at https://thetomco.com

Yoga

Specific yoga poses can be super helpful in assisting with energy levels and pain during your menstrual cycle. By practising certain stretches and poses, you can help ease the discomfort caused by your period, including abdominal swelling, breast tenderness and back pain.

Equally importantly, yoga can reduce stress and strengthen muscles, which all contribute to your body’s ability to deal with the physical strain caused by your period. Effective poses to help with cramps are cobra, cat, and cow – these can help stretch out your body and are suitable for your heavy menstrual days.

Read: Flo, Can you do yoga during your period? Available here.

Period Yoga is a Thing, and Here’s How it Can Help Your Cramps

Over-the-counter relief

While it’s great to rely on natural remedies wherever possible, sometimes they just don’t cut it. Luckily there’s a range of low-level anti-inflammatory drugs that can help reduce pain connected with menstrual cramps. 

Naproxen is a common pain-relieving medication used to treat period pain and belongs to the group of medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Naproxen works to treat fever and pain and is used for a range of ailments such as muscle aches, backache, headaches, as well as menstrual cramps. 

Try: APOHEALTH Period Pain Relief, RRP $4.95. Available at https://www.superpharmacy.com.au/

Track your period

Tracking the details of your period is a great way to gain a better understanding of your body and symptoms,” says Montana.

“Details such as pain levels, mood, heaviness of flow and breast tenderness can be recorded using a period tracker app on your phone. The better you know your symptoms and your body, the better understanding you’ll have if something is strange compared to normal.”

Tracking your cycle may also help you better manage your pain – for example, you might learn that the first two days of your cycle require stronger pain relief, such as over-the-counter medication, while the remaining few days can be managed with a simple heat pack.

Try: Flo Period & Pregnancy Tracker. Available at https://flo.health/

How to know when it’s time to see a doctor

While it’s common for periods to cause significant discomfort, you should visit your doctor if pain becomes severe or distressing.

“Symptoms of concern include sharp pains or a dull ache in your lower abdomen,” says Montana.

“These symptoms aren’t concerning in the short term but if they last for longer than 2 days you should consider visiting a doctor. This is especially true if pain doesn’t stop when you take the contraceptive pill or pain relief; if it prevents you from completing normal daily activities; or if you have pain while going to the bathroom.”

Other reasons you should visit your doctor include pain in the pelvic area when you don’t have your period, or discomfort during sex.

While period pain is far from ideal, the right products and remedies can greatly improve your monthly experience. By trialling a range of options – and seeking professional medical advice when you need it – you’ll be better equipped to ride the crimson wave next time around.

Ladies, Halsey Is Here To Remind You That Not All Period Pain Is Normal

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It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 

Nagnata

Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

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New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 

Nike

Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

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Tracksmith

Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

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Lululemon

Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

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