Period hacks: Our pro tips for a less annoying period
Pad-holders sewn onto the front pouch of underwear for optimal preparation, a diet of maca and celery juice before your period hits, or a vibrator as a uterine or back massager. When it comes to period hacks, we’ve seen it all. People swear by the period hacks that are lifesavers for them, sometimes zany and sometimes quite practical. We wanted to get the deets: What are your pro tips for a less annoying period?
Though we can’t stop your period from being the worst (we wish we could!), we can sure try our darndest to get you tips and tricks that might help. That’s why we took a deep dive on the Internet and reached out to Flexperts with the question, what advice do you have for dealing?
SOS: Period life hacks to avoid being a ball on the floor
Everyone’s bodies experience periods differently. Some people get cramps so unbearable that they have to leave work (cough cough, that’s me). For others, bloating and back pain might be the kicker. Whatever symptoms make your period totally annoying, we’re here to spread the word on what might make it better, whether you’re cramping at home or trying to deal with a heavy flow at work in a dreaded public bathroom. We’ve been there, and we’ve got you covered.
Period hacks for work
First, it’s okay to use your sick days for your period, especially if you have debilitating cramps. That’s what they’re for. However, if you do have to head to the office on your period, here’s what to do:
Opt for comfortable clothing (or as comfortable as it gets if your dress code is business attire.) High-waisted or loose items that don’t squeeze tightly on your uterus might help with cramps. So, maybe swap out your high-rise jeans for a dress or stretchy legging-feel-but-not-really-leggings pair of pants. If you’re worried about leaks or it’s an especially heavy day, wear a darker pair of pants for peace of mind.
Keep a change of underwear in your bag or at work just in case you do bleed through. Alternatively, try a pair of period underwear as backup for your period product of choice. We might be biased, but disposable menstrual discs are one of our favorite options for long shifts or action-packed days at the office. Both offer 12-hour wear and comfortable, reliable protection. They can also be removed and thrown away just like a tampon.
If you prefer a reusable option, like a silicone menstrual cup or reusable disc, public bathrooms can be especially intimidating. Carrying a bloody cup to the row of sinks to rinse it out is… awkward. But there’s a workaround: Throw a pack of vulva-safe wipes (like Flex Biodegradable Wipes) in your bag and bring them with you to the bathroom stall. Remove your reusable cup or disc, empty its contents in the toilet, and use a wipe to clean it inside and out. That way, you can safely reinsert sans running water.
What about dealing with cramps at work? While you might get some weird looks trying to fill up your hot water bottle at the shared Keurig, you can still use heat to soothe your achy uterus by applying a disposable heating patch. You can find ones designed specifically for period cramps, but the drugstore versions made for neck or back pain are just as effective. Stick them on underneath a sweater or sweatshirt and get a few hours of extra relief.
Period days might make you feel low in energy, so bring a comforting meal with you for lunch or treat yourself to a sandwich or soup from your favorite grab-and-go spot. If you have time in the morning, blend up this powerhouse smoothie packed with period-relieving nutrients like calcium, probiotics, and omega-3s.
Period hacks for school
Bleeding during middle school (or even elementary school) is chock-full of intensity. You’re new to bleeding, and there’s typically only one pesky garbage can in the entire multi-stall bathroom. Walking products to the garbage might be embarrassing for teens, though there’s nothing to be embarrassed about!
If this is the case for you, YouTuber Just Sharon suggests keeping an empty chip bag in your backpack, placing your used pad or tampon in there, and then throwing the whole thing out. You can also snag some Flex Eco Disposal Pouches for a biodegradable (but still discreet) upgrade.
Have a stain at school? It’s always a good idea (at work or at school) to keep a spare change of clothes stowed away, including underwear, in case of emergency. If you’re stuck without a change of clothes, head to the lost and found and look for a shirt or sweatshirt to tie around your waist. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or a teacher for help! Almost everyone has experienced period leaks at one point or another, so it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
What about needing permission to go to the bathroom? Let’s say you’re in the middle of taking a test and feel a gush of blood. You raise your hand to ask to go to the bathroom, and the teacher says no, finish the test first. How do you tell a teacher you’re on your period?
Here at Flex, we never want you to feel any shame or embarrassment about having your period. But we understand if you don’t want to announce it to the whole class. Kathryn from Bloody Honest explains how you can quietly (or not-so-quietly) share that you’re on your period with a teacher:
Period hacks at home
For most of us, home is the best place to be while coping with uncomfortable period symptoms. Feel free to change into the comfiest outfit you’ve got, curl up on the couch (or in bed), and queue up your favorite series to binge-watch while you wait for the ibuprofen to kick in.
While we’re on the topic, choosing the right OTC painkiller can make a huge difference when dealing with cramps. You’ll want to look for an NSAID—a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug—like Advil, Motrin, or Aleve.
Both Advil and Motrin have the same active ingredient, ibuprofen, which works on period cramps by blocking prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are what trigger your uterus to contract, so ibuprofen gets at the root cause of your pain and discomfort. Other painkillers like Tylenol (acetaminophen) don’t have the same mechanism, so they won’t be anywhere near as effective.
As we mentioned earlier, heating pads work wonders on cramps and back pain. But if you don’t have one, having a cat lay on your tummy works too. If you don’t have a friendly cat or a heating pad, fill a sock with (uncooked) rice and microwave for one minute, and then, voila! You have a heating pad.
If a chocolate craving kicks in, reach for some of the dark variety. Cocoa-rich dark chocolate is high in magnesium, which can help soothe pain and cramping. It might also give you a bit of needed energy.
On the other hand, try to avoid fatty or greasy foods. As much as you might be craving that box of fried chicken, it will likely make any bloating or digestive discomfort you already have even worse. Likewise, enjoy spicy foods in moderation to keep those urgent bathroom trips to a minimum.
When a boost of energy does kick in, take advantage of it: Both exercise (okay…) and masturbation (now we’re talking) can work wonders on stubborn cramps and bloating. When you exercise, especially if it involves some cardio, your body releases endorphins and feel-good chemicals like dopamine. Endorphins are your body’s built-in, natural painkillers. If you’re in the mood, an orgasm will also release endorphins! So keep your vibrator (or your partner) on standby.
Other period hacks for cramps
Ever feel like there’s a tiny monster repeatedly taking a knife to your uterus on those first few days of your period? Same.
We went over a few of the tried-and-true cramp remedies above, but here’s the full list for easy skimming:
- Take an NSAID like Advil or Motrin, which is ibuprofen (NOT Tylenol, AKA acetaminophen)
- Switch to a different period product: Tampons have been found to increase cramping, whereas users who tried Flex Disc experienced 65% less cramping versus their previous period product
- Use a heating pad, take a bath, or apply a warming balm containing camphor or menthol
- Test out a TENS unit (this one gets great reviews on Amazon)
- Masturbate or have period sex
- Try a light workout or go for a walk
- Do some period yoga stretches
- Wear comfortable, stretchy clothing (nothing that puts pressure on your abdomen)
- Eat a warm, comforting meal that’s high in calcium, magnesium, probiotics, and omega-3s
- Snack on dark chocolate
- Track your period with an app so you know when to expect cramps and can start taking ibuprofen and/or adjusting your diet a day or two in advance
- Consider alternative therapies like acupuncture
- While not scientifically proven, some menstruators have found relief in cannabis suppositories
- For severe period pain that keeps you out of work or school, always talk to a healthcare provider first—they can help you rule out underlying conditions
- Severe cramps due to Dysmenorrhea is the technical term for painful periods. There are two types of dysmenorrhea: primary and secondary. Primary dysmenorrhea refers to severe pain caused by uterine cramps, whereas secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by a disorder in the reproductive system. or a condition like endometriosis or fibroids can sometimes be helped with prescription pain relievers like diclofenac (Voltaren)
Pro tips from the Flexperts
When all else fails, ask your friends what they do to help curb period woes. Crowdsourcing is a great way to learn new tips and tricks that you might not find on the Internet! We did some outreach of our own and asked a few folks on the Flex team what period hacks they use on a regular basis. Here’s what they told us:
Lauren, Flex CEO and Founder, says, “I always travel with a hot water bottle to use as a heating pad in a pinch. If your cramps are awful, I always recommend taking out a tampon or anything insertable and giving your vagina a ‘rest’ for a few hours by switching to a pad or period undies.”
Kate’s hack is all about early planning and preparation: “I usually take Advil or Midol at the very onset of feeling like I’m going to get my period versus waiting until the pain is unbearable. I use breathing exercises to deal with severe cramps. I also keep a period emergency supplies pack in my purse and car for myself or for others!”
Xenia adds, “To ease cramps, I try not to have an empty stomach. I also track my period to cushion the first day (which is the most painful for me) with added self-care and rest. Heating pad, chocolate, and when all else fails, complaining to my partner helps.”
Emily’s pro tip for period stains is to tackle them early with a common pantry staple: “Grab your bottle of white vinegar and use an old towel to saturate the stain as soon as you can, before the blood dries out. Let that sit for about 10 minutes and keep blotting at it with the dry side of the towel. Then toss the item in the wash on cold. Your stain should come right out! In a pinch, you can sub out the vinegar for salt—just make a paste with a lot of salt and a little bit of water.”
Jane notes, “I have a microwavable rice heating pad on my abdomen right now, and I’m not even bleeding yet. Getting ahead of pain before it gets bad is the secret sauce to achieving adequate pain relief for my body. Also, I tend to want to tune pain out, but that doesn’t give me a chance to know if/where I’m hurting. Taking a minute to check in with how I’m feeling before I get my day started is really important (on my period and on other cycle days!).”
This article is informational only and is not offered as medical advice, nor does it substitute for a consultation with your physician. If you have any gynecological/medical concerns or conditions, please consult your physician.
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