Anyone who has been frequented by the monthly visitor can attest to the many toils that come along with it: migraines, dysmenorrhea, back aches, belly aches, and full-on body aches. When these tough times come along, every menstruating person is out to find their holy grail solution to conquering those period pains.
Filipino culture, in particular, is brimming with superstitions and beliefs - especially regarding menstruation. While every person has a different experience, here are just a few ways (either by science or superstition) that are said to help ease cramps and other dreary discomforts. See if you can sort fact from fiction:
Hitting the gym might not be the first on anyone’s mind when they’re experiencing cramps, but getting up and active has proven to help alleviate period pains. Exercising releases endorphins that relieve pain and burn prostaglandin (the chemical that causes muscle contractions during your period). Focus on exercises that get your heart rate up, such as walking, jogging, aerobics, or swimming. Core exercises also strengthen the abdominal region, which can also up your pain threshold when the cramps come marching in.
Skip the shower
It’s been said that taking a bath during your period might lead to any of the following: hair loss, infertility, or in a surprise turn of events, even insanity! Instead of showering, elders advise to simply pour water on your head instead of dousing your entire body with water. However, hygiene is rather important for anyone menstruating, and failure to clean oneself might lead to unsavory smells and infections.
A common rule of thumb in fitness is that what you eat plays a major role in your overall health. Although it’s usually the first instinct to grab a pint of ice cream when you’re on your period, it might benefit you to keep it lean and clean. During menstruation, avoid food that causes bloating and water retention. These include salty food, fatty foods, alcohol, soda, and caffeine. Cutting out the junk decreases tension and soothes cramps. Reduce your intake of processed food and instead take more fiber-rich food, like fruits and vegetables. Manganese-rich food, like walnuts and almonds, also eases cramps, while flaxseed contains antioxidants that reduce swelling and inflammation.
Wash your face with your first period blood
Most people swear by this belief (and perhaps it is our culture’s most prominent superstition regarding periods): When you first get your period, wash the stained underwear and use it to wipe your face. This apparently prevents you from ever having acne. While some might have difficulty imagining swiping their face with their first blood, a large majority of menstruating persons have great faith in this.
Pop a pill
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs) are over-the-counter medicines that provide relief for menstrual pain. NSAIDs include ibuprofen, like Advil, a common painkiller. Other local painkillers include Dolfenal and Midol. However, it is advised that one not rely too heavily on painkillers, as one may develop an immunity of them when used too frequently.
Some select minerals and supplements also aid in easing period pains. Boron, for example, absorbs calcium and phosphorus, thus lessening the intensity of period pains. Birth control has also been proven to show some effect to reducing period pains, as they help regulate hormones.
Turn up the heat
Perhaps one of the oldest tricks in the book is using heat compress. Hot water bottles or heated pads are an age-old remedy to dysmenorrhea. In 2012, a study found that women who had menstruation considered heat patches to be just as effective as ibuprofen. Apply heat using a bottle, towel, or pad on your abdomen or lower back to lessen the pain. Drinking ginger tea or hot water with lemon can also help soothe the abdomen. Hot liquids help the blood flow much easier, thus relaxing cramped muscles.
Take it easy
When on your period, it seems like the only thing you want to do is stay in bed – which isn’t so bad. Rest and relaxation are always a good idea, as the body is always seeking for rejuvenation. After all, if the pain gets a bit much, sometimes the best remedy is to just sleep it off.
Once you get your period, make sure to jump three times – this way, your period will only last three days. Since some people menstruate up to seven days, a three-day period sounds like a dream come true. Although you might not have full control over the length of your period, there’s definitely no harm in trying this one.
These methods might seem totally sound, or borderline creepy, or totally crazy. But you'll never know if they work 'til you try them yourself!