Periods suck! Ask any woman who still gets her period, and she’ll say the only thing it’s good for is a monthly reminder that you’re not pregnant. Great, thanks Mother Nature, next time can you WhatsApp me instead?
We’re feminists: we’re not saying periods suck cause they’re gross or because our bodies are shedding our own ovarian layers. They suck because of the cramps. Let’s be honest, cramps are hands down the WORST part about getting your period. While not every woman will experience severe cramps during every period, or certainly not every day of the period week, it’s definitely something that’s experienced by the majority of women, at least once in their life.
But did you know that you could be making your cramps worse, just by doing things that you may be normally doing? Yep, that’s right. Certain foods, activities and habits can actually make your cramps worse. So before you curl up in a ball with chocolate in hand next period, take a look and see if you’re responsible for making your period even worse than it has to be.
YOU’RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP:
As if we didn’t need another reason to lay in bed all day and night. But this is science: the less sleep you get, the more sleep deprived you are. Sleep deprivation contributes to higher stress levels, which in turn leads to releasement of the stress hormone, cortisol.
It turns out cortisol directly affects the gland that controls your hormone levels, and a hormone imbalance (the side-effect of cortisol being released) can lead to heavier – and wait for it – more painful periods.
YOU’RE EATING THE WRONG FOOD:
This one is hard to hear, because when we get our periods, our craving for all things unhealthy somehow just shoots up. But it’s important to take a look at the food you’re eating during your menstrual cycle, as they might give you more painful cramps.
It’s two-fold though: salty foods cause water retention and bloating, which can cause cramps; and fatty foods contain a chemical that causes the uterus to contract, equaling more period cramps. It’s a lose/lose.
YOU’RE DRINKING TOO MUCH CAFFEINE:
Who knew that our caffeine addiction could be causing our cramps? We didn’t.
Turns out caffeinated beverages – especially coffee or soft drinks – can decrease the blood flow to your uterus by causing your blood vessels to constrict. This lack of blood flow can increase cramps.
So, if you’re a serious caffeine addict, it might be time to cut down on your intake, at least during your menstrual cycle.
YOU SMOKE CIGARETTES:
Smokers, you have to deal with a lot. The cigarette smell that lingers on your body and clothes after a smoke. Yellowing teeth. The risk of lung cancer.
But who knew that you also had to deal with worsened cramps at the hands of your cigarette pack? Apparently nicotine, just like caffeine, causes the blood vessels in your uterus to constrict. This slowed blood flow to your uterus can cause some serious cramps.
YOU’RE NOT EXERCISING:
We know that when your period hits, the LAST thing you want to do is hit the gym. Even for those avid gym-goers, who are committed to the burn, finding the motivation when you’re bleeding and cramping can be really difficult. But exercising can actually help to decrease your cramps and the pain it causes. We’re not saying you have to run a marathon on your period, but enjoying a light form of exercise like yoga, walking or pilates, can help your pain go away.