How many times throughout your life have you heard “It must be your time of the month” – maybe from your boyfriend, husband, or even your best friend (yes, girls, we can even recognize this attitude in our fellow females)? Menstrual periods are never fun – it’s as simple as that. Cramps, bloating, pain and crankiness are just a few of the many symptoms you must deal with every month. But since you live with them for at least half of your life, you need to learn how to suffer through.

Or do you?

Maybe there is something you can do to lessen the horrible (yes, horrible) effects you experience on a monthly basis.

Period Basics

Periods are a natural part of a girl’s physical transition into womanhood. While there’s no such thing as a typical menstrual cycle, periods generally take place every 21 to 35 days and are about five days in duration. First periods now take place among girls as young as nine or 10 years old, compared to 13 or 14 years of age twenty years ago.

Some women have light flow throughout their periods, while others experience heavy bleeding on some or all of their period days.  On the extreme end of heavy bleeding is menorrhagia, in which 80 milliliters or eight tablespoons of blood are lost during the menstrual cycle.

Additionally, some women experience no cramping or bloating at all, while others report cramps that range from mild discomfort to debilitating pains that keep them from functioning normally.

Period Help

Drugstore medications, such as Motrin, can alleviate symptoms of bloating, fatigue and cramping, while some women swear by the temporary relief of a hot water bottle or electric blanket placed on their lower abdomens. In cases of menorrhagia in which anemia is to blame, iron supplements can help.

Herbal diuretics, such as parsley, dandelion and horsetail, can relieve bloating. For severe cramps, the stems and roots of the black cohosh plant (also popular for menopausal relief) can provide relief, as can chamomile, feverfew, wild yam and valerian.

Taken several days before problems typically occur and discontinued when a period begins, dong quai (also known as Chinese angelica) can stabilize hormone imbalances that cause tender breasts, mood swings and skin breakouts.

Moderate exercise can also keep problem period symptoms at bay. Try increasing the intensity of your workout during  the days before your period starts, and do your best to remain active throughout the menstrual cycle. Also, avoid caffeinated beverages, limit drinking of alcoholic beverages, and resolve to quit smoking if you have a cigarette habit.  To better pinpoint the times during your period when you experience problems, keep a diary detailing the occurrence and severity of symptoms. Taking a proactive role in managing your periods can make them more bearable in the future.

With these helpful tips in your period arsenal, you’ll be able to avoid wearing your “period on your sleeve” so to speak, and bypass that silly time of the month accusation!

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