We don’t talk about periods that often. Why? Periods can seem unpleasant, mysterious, and even shameful. Not talking about it can lead to miseducation and uncertainty about managing this normal part of a woman’s life. Here are some basic facts, common myths, tips and tricks, and product recommendations for managing your next period.
About Your Period
Let’s start off with the basics, what is a period? Period refers to the period of time when you’re bleeding. It’s the part of your menstrual cycle when the uterus sheds its lining. Now, what is a menstrual cycle exactly? Your menstrual cycle starts from the first day of your period through to the time your ovaries release an egg (ovulation), and your uterus builds up a soft, spongy lining just in case that egg gets fertilized (you get pregnant). Your cycle can be from 21 days long to more than 35 days, and it’s normal for your cycle to not be the exact same length every month. Everyone’s cycle is different, so there isn’t really a “normal” menstrual cycle or period.
Now what are period cramps? You get period cramps when your muscles are contracting to break down the tissue built up in your uterine lining. While cramps can be bad, they aren’t supposed to be that bad. Really severe cramps can be attributed to a lot of things, many of which aren’t a big deal, but there are some cases where you should get medical help.
Myths vs. The Truth
“Your period is dirty.”
A lot of people think that periods are dirty and gross, which they’re not. It is just a normal bodily function, with blood and extra tissue grown in the uterus to accommodate a pregnancy. Once the body realizes it isn’t pregnant, the lining sheds and is no longer necessary.
“You can’t get pregnant during your period.”
While it is less likely for you to get pregnant on your period, it isn’t impossible. It has to do with when you ovulate, and that can be harder for younger people to track since periods can be irregular when you first get them. In addition, you can be more susceptible to getting an infection during period sex. That’s why it is always better to have safe sex, especially during your period.
“Your period can sync up with others’ periods.”
Your period being able to sync up with your friends and family if you’re around them is a cool idea, but it’s not 100% true. As I said before everyone’s cycles can be different, in terms of length, so that is most likely the reason that sometimes you and friends’ periods will “sync up.”
Some Tips and Tricks
#1. While I know that it’s hard to want to get up and do stuff during this time of the month, working out or doing any other physical activities can actually help relieve some of your symptoms. I personally have noticed that when I get up and simply go on a walk, my cramps and headaches are way less severe.
#2. When choosing a pain killer to use try to avoid aspirin. If you take aspirin regularly, you may start having heavier or longer periods than usual. Use painkillers like Ibuprofen (Advil) or Tylenol.
#3. Something that has helped me while on my period is having specific underwear for my time of the month. This can help you not ruin your favorite underwear. I would personally recommend getting black cotton underwear, but it’s up to you.
#4. It is good to let your body breathe, especially your vaginal area. So while you don’t have to wear cotton underwear all the time, it’s good to wear them a couple times a week or when you’re going to sleep.
#5. To add on to my last tip, if you’re a tampon kind of person, I recommend that you wear tampons during the day and wear a pad during the night. It gives your vag time to breathe. This will also put you at a lesser risk of getting TSS, aka Toxic Shock Syndrome.
#6. When cleaning down there, whether you’re on your period or not, don’t stick anything inside of your vagina to clean it. Doing that can really throw off your pH balance, and cause more problems. Something you should do when cleaning is to use unscented soap and water. You don’t need to smell like flowers or fruit. Make sure you are gentle with yourself when washing.
#7. You should try to avoid scented pads, tampons, and liners. The chemicals and fragrance can mess with your pH balance, can cause irritation, and can lead to infections.
#8. If you’re looking for some alternatives to pads or tampons, there are menstrual cups, menstrual discs, period underwear, sea sponges etc.
Here are some of my brand recommendations.
~ The Honey Pot
Here are some of my specific product recommendations.
~ Carefree Pantiliners (you can get these anywhere)
~ The Honey Pot Sensitive Intimate Wipes
~ Up and Up Overnight Pads (you can get these at target)
~ L. Organic Cotton Tampons