Updated: Nov 11
Here are 5 simple things to avoid during your period that will make the time of the month less of a pain and support your sexual health.
Don't skip meals when on your period. For many women, especially those that have heavy periods and experience a lot of blood loss, energy levels can drop when menstruating due to the loss of iron which transports oxygenated blood around the body. In order to ensure energy and blood sugar levels don't drop and keep long-term fatigue at bay, it's best to get 3 proper meals a day, 2 litres of water and snack on some fruit if energy is low.
Don’t leave your tampon in for more than 10 - 12 hours max! Any longer than this and you run the risk of developing TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome). This is when toxins from the staphylococcus aureus bacteria start to seep into the bloodstream and can cause life threatening reactions. You may begin to experience fever, rash, dizziness and vomiting. If you suspect you may have TSS then seek emergency medical advice ASAP.
Don't over wash your delicate lady parts as it can disrupt the pH level of the vaginal microbiome. Gently bathing in just warm water should be enough to stay clean and fresh. Even intimate soaps can be too harsh and disruptive of the natural bacteria down there and can cause a reaction. If there are any unpleasant smells it may be worth investigating for bacterial or fungal overgrowths such as thrush or BV.
Don't forget that self care is important. Many women are much more in tune with their cycle than others and some have much more debilitating and painful periods too, so it's always worth listening to your body. The menstrual cycle (and especially the week or so leading up to it) can often be quite draining emotionally and physically. Prioritise sleep and relaxation which will reduce the negative effects of PMS.
Don't cave in and eat lots of sugary or processed foods! These foods contain prostaglandins and can increase pain receptors. If you're susceptible to tender breasts, cramping or headaches over time avoiding these foods this can help reduce symptoms and pain.
Prostaglandins are present in sugar, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods.
Do exercise, but keep it gentle! Where possible, try and exercise but avoid high intensity exercise. Gentle exercise such as yoga, pilates or walking is best. Even slow swimming is great, as it can take the sense of pressure off on your lower back or abdomen. Exercise produces endorphins which are pain reducing chemicals but also make us feel good! High intensity exercise may release too much cortisol and feel you leaving worse.
Eat iron rich sources of food. This is so important, as we women are prone to iron deficiencies because of our cycles. The World Health Organisation has estimated that 30% of women globally are anaemic! We can also have a harder time absorbing iron than men due to hormones and dietary preferences. Eating foods high in iron both during your period and throughout the rest of the month is so vital, and is a lifelong commitment. Sources of iron rich foods include: organ and red meats, soy/tofu/tempeh, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables such as swiss chard and chia seeds.
If you're looking for more advice or experiencing negative symptoms around your period, book with me for a free 20 minute consultation on how I can help you today.
Registered Nutritional Therapist
Kelly is a Registered Nutritional Therapist who focuses on positive physical and mental wellbeing, achieved through diet, lifestyle, sleep and exercise. Having struggled for years with IBS and hormonal imbalance, and increasingly frustrated with the lack of support and helpful advice from her GP, Kelly began her own journey of healing the body from the inside out. After seeing huge improvements she quit her job to study nutrition and focus on harnessing the healing powers of food to help other people in similar situations.