Call me a masochist, but I kind of miss having my period. Since having the Mirena IUD inserted, Aunt Flow has barely knocked on my door in a year, and despite cursing her monthly visits for almost two decades prior, there is a small part of me that have grown to miss them. I found my period to be cleansing—my body would expand exponentially in the couple of days prior to getting my period, and then deflate like a retired party balloon once it was all over. Satisfying! There was also a comfort in knowing that my body was doing what it was supposed to be doing, even if it let me know by way of debilitating cramps.
There are two massive caveats to this that make me happy that I unsubscribed, though: pain and pimples. Endometriosis turned my body into a hormonal quagmire for 16 years, which manifested in some hardcore cramps and hard-out hormonal zits. The silver lining is that I can now confidently call myself an expert in the delicate art of pain and pimple assassination. And, after reading my six hot tips below, you will too…
Hot water bottles > everything else
The way I talk about my hot water bottle—lovingly, frequently and always with stars in my eyes—you’d assume it was my husband of 20 years. I will continue to do this until death do us part.
The hot water bottle as we now know it was invented in 1903 as a way to warm beds and—despite suffering a decline in sales towards the late 20th century as other heating methods became more sophisticated—remains, to this day, the greatest creation of all time in my mind (and surely those of any woman who has ever experienced cramping, too). Not only does this heat-emanating snuggle buddy provide comfort and warmth during the long winter months (without any prior flirtations, mind you), it can physically shut down the normal pain response involved with period cramps. According to Brian King, of the UCL Department of Physiology, it “actually deactivates the pain at a molecular level in much the same way as pharmaceutical painkillers.” Pass. Me. The. Bottle.
Hop in the tub
I imagine you don’t need any more encouragement to get horizontal in the tub—it is one of life’s great simple joys, after all—but in the rare event that you do: baths really good at relieving period cramps. Not only because of the heat theory (see above), but also because of their unparalleled ability to make you chill the flip out. Dim the lights, fire up your new candle, put on Erykah Badu, throw some epsom salts (a magnesium-rich mineral that aids with muscle relaxation) in the tub, then yourself, and marvel at how quickly your period pain turns to dust.
Actually ingest magnesium and anti-inflammatories
Now that you’ve splashed around in it, it’s time to chow down on some magnesium tablets, too. Magnesium is scientifically-proven to help in reducing expletive-inducing cramps caused by super strong uterus contractions. Also, a magnesium deficiency can also contribute to other fun PMS symptoms like head-splitting migraine, bloating and fluid retention. Foods like salmon, artichokes, avocados, nuts and dark chocolate are all rich in magnesium and should therefore register high on your ‘foods to eat list’ as well.
Also, stuff your pantry/fridge full with antioxidant-dense foods which help to reduce inflammation levels. A good place to start: turmeric, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, berries, and ginger.
Engage in self-love activities
If you’ve been neglecting your vibrator collection of late, now is the time to yank open that bedside cabinet draw and get reacquainted. (Hands and partners work, too). The uterine contractions caused by an orgasm can release pain-fighting neurotransmitters, like endorphins and oxytocin. Also, orgasms increase oxygenation in your body, which can help calm inflammation.
Stick it to your zit
Chances are, if you’re riding the crimson wave, you’re also surfing the web looking for ways to calm the hormonal zits that have decided to glamp out on your face as if it were the first weekend of Coachella. Aunt Flow-related acne likely to flare up both in the week leading up to your period and also during it. Thanks, hormones! ILY 4eva! Thankfully, your hormonal zit + KILLA = a patch made in heaven.
As anyone with a period knows, hormonal acne generally takes the form of under-the-surface pimples popping up around the chin area. The KILLA patch goes deep, transporting pimple-slaying ingredients like hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, niacinamide and oligopeptide-76 all the way down to your zit.
Make dying noises
If all else fails, there’s always this. Whenever I am in pain—be it alcohol, rancid food, endometriosis or period-related—the only thing that truly gets me through it is to lay on my bed in the fetal position and let whimpering and guttural sounds pour freely from my mouth. This deliciously indulgent level of self pity is scientifically-proven to alleviate tummy pain. (Don’t Google that).
Want more opinions about period breakouts? Here you go.