Getting your period can be a monthly hell for most of us – especially if we’ve been told it’s ‘just a part of life’ for people who menstruate. Painful stomach cramps are just the half of it. Spotty skin, disrupted sleep, water retention, IBS and severe mood swings are just a few delights that await us as our time of the month rolls around.

While it’s not always possible to alleviate all of the above symptoms, going easy on yourself and not pushing your limits is key. Here are some more tips to help you get through it…

Wear Comfortable Loose Clothing

If you’re experiencing water retention and bloating, not to mention stomach cramps – fitted, formal attire can make things even worse. If you’re currently working from home, ditch the tight waistbands and opt for a t-shirt dress or joggers.

Make Sure You’re Fully Stocked Up

There’s nothing worse when you’re on your period than the added stress of scrambling to find period products. Order your pads and tampons online in advance – otherwise you can try a menstrual cup, which you can reuse (saving you time and money) and not have to worry about running low!

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Exercise (but don’t overdo it!)

Exercise has been shown to boost endorphins (the ‘happy hormone’), which can help tackle symptoms of PMS like mood swings and irritability. Endorphins are also a natural painkiller, so they can help ease cramps at the same time. However, if you normally like to hit it hard in the gym, it might be a good idea to take things slightly easier around your period. Many of us feel tired during menstruation, so an intense cardio session is probably not a good idea. Prioritise relaxing activities such as walking and yoga to ease physical and mental tension.

Don’t Suffer In Silence

There are ways to ease period pain, from ibuprofen and paracetamol – which can be taken together – to placing heated patches and or a hot water bottle (wrapped in a towel) over the affected area. It’s also important to drink lots of water, as dehydration can make cramps worse.

If your period pain is so severe and debilitating that you’re missing work or can’t leave the house, consult your GP as soon as you can – as it could be a sign of a more serious issue such as fibroids or endometriosis.

Female with a hot water bottle sitting on the sofa
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Avoid Junk Food

While we don’t blame you for having the odd chocolate binge (we’ve all been there!) it’s best to avoid things like fizzy drinks, processed foods with a high salt and sugar content, which can make bloating worse. What’s more, fatty takeaways and white bread can interfere with your blood sugar levels, causing an energy crash when you’re probably already tired and irritable.

If you need a chocolate fix, try dark chocolate – it’s a good source of magnesium that helps regulate mood swings. Other foods to prioritise are kale, broccoli, salmon and bananas, which deliver the right nutrients to keep your energy levels ticking over during your period.

Chocolate. Dark bitter chocolate chunks. Chocolate background

Go for the Big 'O'

Whether by yourself or with a partner, there’s obviously nothing ‘dirty’ about having sex on your period (but contrary to common myths, you can still get pregnant, so contraception is a must). Like regular exercise, having an orgasm floods the body with endorphins to help relieve stress and tension. It can also temporarily make the muscles of the uterus contract and then relax, easing cramps in the short-term. Go enjoy yourself!