We love a good life hack. You know, the kind that helps you save time getting ready in the morning, or allows you to skip the line for a big product launch. Here’s an even more exciting one for you – a list of life hacks specially made for dealing with period cramps. Cramps can be a serious downer, especially when painful and persistent. Which is why we’ve taken the liberty of compiling some at-home hacks for cramps for those days when powering through won’t cut it. So, instead of accepting cramps as your inevitable fate, try following these simple steps to help relieve period pain so you can get back to being your best self.
Hack 1: Track Your Period
They say the best defense is a good offense, so why not get ahead of your period by anticipating its arrival? If you know you suffer from cramps right before, during or shortly after, you can make a plan for those days to make sure you’re prepared (see hacks 2-6). Download a period tracking app or mark the calendar on your phone or computer so you can keep track.
There’s more to this than just tracking the dates, though – make sure you’re keeping an eye on your symptoms so you’re aware if something is off. Tracking your symptoms can help you identify if one of your symptoms could be abnormal and worth bringing up to a doctor.
Hack 2: Channel Your Inner Yogini
Practicing yoga offers a number of health benefits, especially during your period. It’s a comfortable, low impact way to incorporate exercise, and it calms your mind. During your TOTM, the meditation element of yoga can actually help relieve period pain. Deep breathing and focus can help instantly relieve tension built up as a result of period cramps or shifting hormones. Not to mention, the deep breaths promoted during yoga practice literally help oxygen flow through your body and into your muscles – since a main contributor to cramps is lack of oxygen in your uterine muscles, this is a great approach for soothing menstrual pain.1,2
Grab a yoga mat (or find a flat surface) and practice a few poses to help you relax your mind and focus on your breathing.
Hack 3: Prioritize Sleep
A good night’s sleep can help reduce stress and balance your hormones, potentially minimizing some of your pain. Even more reason to hit snooze – resting off cramps is good for temporary relief and can help you feel restored and revitalized (read: power naps = good!)
If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep due to period pain, try moving your pillows around to get comfortable. Sleeping in fetal position can also ease the pressure on your abdominal muscles to relieve pain as you sleep. This position also prevents period leaks, so it’s a win-win!
Hack 4: Bring the Heat
Warmth can help relax your uterine muscles to ease pain and promote sleep – plus, it’s cheap, and rarely presents any additional side effects. You can incorporate a comfortable amount of heat by applying a heating pad (or anything warm, really) to your lower abdomen or taking a warm shower to help relax your muscles and ease the pain.
This works from the inside, out, too! You can also drink hot water or tea to relax your muscles internally. If you’re dealing with persistent period pain, try to limit caffeine intake, as it can cause bloating and water retention and could potentially make your symptoms worse.4
Hack 5: Say Yes to (Dark) Chocolate!
There are some foods worth avoiding altogether during your period (those that can make symptoms worse), but chocolate doesn’t have to be one of them! A key ingredient in dark chocolate is magnesium, which can actually prevent period pain. Magnesium relaxes the muscles in the uterus, while reducing the prostaglandins (hormones) that often cause period pain in the first place.3
Hack 6: Get Moving and Eat Clean
Eating a plant-based is a simple way to alleviate period pain, but that can be easier said than done. Not a veggie person? Try a green fruit smoothie. The looks of it are deceiving, and you can still enjoy a sweet-tasting smoothie while incorporating vegetables into your diet. You can also try incorporating foods rich in fiber and healthier fats, like avocados, nut butter and fish.4
Exercise might not be a priority during your TOTM, but it can help to relieve pain and get your endorphins up. Make time for your favorite way to sweat – you’ll thank yourself later. If you’re not looking for an intense workout, try doing some yoga poses (see above) or going for a brisk walk to get moving.
What If It’s Something Else?
If your pain persists, and if it accompanies other symptoms like exhaustion or heavy periods, it might be a more serious issue. Talk to a doctor about your symptoms so you can figure out if a treatment plan might be necessary.
- Period Pain: Overview. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Accessed on August 1, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072508/.
- What are Menstrual Cramps? WebMD. Accessed August 1, 2018. https://www.webmd.com/women/menstrual-cramps#1
- Parazzini F et al. Magnesium in the gynecological practice: a literature review. Magnes Res. 2017 Feb 1;30(1):1-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28392498.
- Home Remedies to Relieve Menstrual Pain. Healthline. Accessed July 2, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/menstrual-cramp-remedies.