My journey to a better period

For most of my menstruating life seeing my period as the gift that it was meant to be was close to impossible, until I realized that I was in control.

I, like many of us, experienced a wide range of symptoms that seemed completely out of my control – turning my otherwise kind and patient self into an unpredictable and somewhat of a mad person. I accepted it all as part of being a woman – the mood swings, the irritability, the sweet cravings and the drastic changes in my physical self seemed to be norm and defined one fourth of my every month. 

In my early 30s, I met a wellness-focused doctor who suggested that I make some drastic changes in what I had perceived as an already healthy diet – I completely eliminated gluten, dairy and sugar. Over the next months I went through a major transformation – I experienced an excess of energy, my belly felt light, my hair thickened, my skin started to glow, but most importantly, all of my PMS-related symptoms, including cramps, started to subside significantly.

Since then, I have addressed my emotions, how I deal with stress, I continued watching my diet, committed to a daily yoga practice and switched to reusable menstrual products. The journey to a healthy period takes time, patience and flexibility – it is an on-going process of trial and error but the results can be life-changing. Give yourself the gift of healthy and happy periods.

Here are my five tips on having a better period:

  1. You are what you eat.  Every time you take a painkiller for your cramps, you are fighting inflammation … so why not prevent it in the first place? Establish if any foods irritate you, creating any inflammation or pain. Gluten and dairy are the biggest offenders along with sugar. Eliminate offender foods from your diet over a period of couple of weeks to see if you notice any changes. For me, eating a mostly plant-based diet consisting of fresh fruit and vegetables along with legumes, eggs, nuts, and fish and meat has helped improve my periods.

  2. Move. Being active and in a good shape contributes to being healthier and having better periods. Exercise is generally associated with artificially-lit, sweaty gyms that encourage monotonous and boring repetition of movements. Being active is so much more than that – walking, jogging, stretching, riding a bike, swimming, dancing, practicing yoga … there are so many ways to move. Think outside of the gym box – walk to work, take the stairs, skip the subway, park as far away as possible.

  3. Your emotions. eing emotionally unstable or in a state of constant stress can affect your period. What triggers your stress is unlikely to change – you need to change how you perceive and cope with it.  Learn to meditate and practice positive visualization. Do something with your hands and indulge in things that make you happy ... cook, knit, dance, or paint. Begin each day reminding yourself for what you are grateful for.

  4. Supplements. I do believe it’s best to get vitamins and minerals from real food sources. Magnesium helps to relax the uterus, which offers smoother and less painful periods. Foods rich in magnesium, such as leafy greens, nuts and seeds, avocado, bananas, and chocolate can help to alleviate painful periods. If you suffer from severe cramps, you may benefit from taking magnesium as a supplement at the first sign of menstrual pain and for a couple of days into your period.

  5. Reusable menstrual products. Reusable menstrual products help to have happier and healthier periods. Many women report improvement in their period cramps when using reusable product versus tampons. Switch to reusable pads, a menstrual cup or a sponge in order to improve your overall period experience and to alleviate cramps. Reusable menstrual products are better for you and for our planet. Conventional, reusable, sanitary products are bleached with heavy chemicals and contain toxins that are hazardous to your health and pollute our planet.

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