No, but seriously, gents, if you’re the type to be squeamish about lady talk, you’ll want to high-tail it on outta here. Of course, if you’re one of those guys, I seriously recommend getting over it if you plan to live with, love, marry, or befriend any of us with the longer life spans.
Caveats aside, I want to talk about menstrual cycles – ‘cause really, who doesn’t?! I spent many years suffering through the cramps and bloating and crankiness and general ickiness associated with that most special time of the month. Over the years, I have found some tricks that really, really help, so I wanted to share them all with you. I’m sure you all know this, but of course, I’m not a doctor, so do not use my advice in lieu of a medical professional’s.
Anyway, here is my lady-time kit of choice:
Let’s go through it starting with the purple tea bag at far left.
Allegro Organic Queen Bee Balance Tea: Also known as Cranky B*tch Tea, as my co-worker and I affectionately call it. If you’re into teas or herbals at all, you’ve probably read about raspberry leaf and its role in helping with menstrual cramps. I couldn’t find any good studies on it (other than its controversial use during pregnancies), but hundreds of years of anecdotal evidence support its use. Add mine to the list. I feel a lot better when I drink this stuff around my period. In addition to raspberry leaf, it also contains alfalfa (a mild diuretic to help with bloating), spearmint (which helps to regular menstrual cycles), chaste tree berry (which helps with a whole host of menstrual ailments), and dandelion leaf (another diuretic).
Calcium: Did you know that calcium helps to alleviate menstrual cramps? Yep, the science says so, and I can attest to it first-hand. I generally try to get vitamins and minerals through a varied diet, but during my cycle, I pop a few extra calcium citrate supplements (never carbonate, because it upsets my stomach). I take one every morning with my magnesium and then one or two more during the day if cramps strike. It’s like magic!
Magnesium: I take a powdered supplement for migraine prevention (and someday I’ll actually do a post about this, too), but I find that its muscle-relaxant quality helps with cramps, too. Did you know that women are more prone to blood-sugar crashes during their periods, too? Magnesium helps to alleviate spikes and drops in glucose levels. Again, I like to eat magnesium-rich foods, but as a migraine sufferer, I need a higher dose than the average person. I’ve read that it’s beneficial to take 350-360 mg in supplement form for three days at the beginning of your period. Just be warned: it can have a laxative effect, so if you aren’t used to the stuff, proceed with caution!
Water: Water, water, water. Seriously. It’s the cure-all for everything, right? When you’re dealing with bloating, the answer is a resounding YES. Drink it constantly. Embrace the constant bathroom trips as breaks from the work day.
Alter Eco Fair Trade Dark Chocolate Quinoa Midnight Crunch Bar: Awwwww yeeeeeeah. This chocolate is amazing, seriously. It’s fair trade, organic, vegan, and tastes like HEAVEN. Not only that, but it’s full of fiber, protein, and iron. Clearly, chocolate bars are not a health food, but when the craving strikes, this is the bar to grab. As I mention above, your blood sugar is less stable during your period, which means, in part, that I become a ravenous beast. The protein (2 g per serving) and fiber (4 g per serving) help to regulate the roller coaster. Also, women are prone to anemia due to blood loss, and this bar boasts a whopping – get this – 30% of your iron needs per serving. Wow! Did I mention it’s also delicious? The bar has 2.5 servings, just the right amount to get me through the worst two or three days of each period.
Sensible Foods Organic Soy Nuts: This product, once again, helps with the glucose drop/ravenous beast thing. It does so with only 110 calories and 7 mg of sodium per serving, plus it has a whipping 8 g of protein and 5 of fiber. Plus, they’re crunchy and satisfy your craving for saltiness without all the sodium. The bag has two servings.
Things that are noticeably absent from my list:
Sodium: Speaking of the soy nuts, sodium is no bueno during your menstrual cycle. It causes the bloaties, and I have noticed a link between eating too much salt and more painful cramps. I try to eat out less during my period because I have no idea how much sodium is lurking in my food.
Caffeine: Well, other than the chocolate bar. Caffeine exacerbates a whole slew of PMS symptoms, including cramping, headaches, breast tenderness, irritability, and pretty much everything else you can think of. Skip it and opt for herbal teas for a few days.
So that’s my list. Who has things to add?