PERIOD HACKS

Because sometimes we all want to hack our period … into pieces.

crampy cramperton

It’s not that we can’t just put on a happy face and deal with it when it feels like a small gang of warrior weebles are chucking ninja stars inside us, it’s just that we shouldn’t have to. And so here are a few ideas for adding some easy comfort on the harder days of your period.

(In no particular order, except this one always feels like it’s the most important …)

dark chocolate

Dark chocolate (at least 60% cacao) is delightfully choc-full of good things your body craves while menstruating, like magnesium and potassium. Plus, when we eat chocolate it boosts the amount of serotonin and endorphins in the body, providing a quick little mood lift. Avoid the added sugars found in milk chocolate, and stick with cacao-dense, dark chocolate. You could even make a ritual of it, trying a new bar of dark chocolate with each period. Just for you. All yours. Hack away.

a clear bowl of dark chocolate with a wooden handled knife in the background

hot water bottle

No hot water bottle but yes hurting uterus? This backpacker’s sleeping bag warm-up hack works wonders for at-home period hacking, too. Fill a reusable, temperature-resistant water bottle (like a Nalgene) with hot water. Wrap it in a clean dishtowel for insulation. Then snuggle that puppy up to where it feels the best. The bonus about this method is the round shape of the water bottle can also offer a lovely therapeutic massage across the low belly and low back.

The point of view looking down into a lap, a pair of legs bent at the knees, with gray socks on the feet, and a cloth napkin wrapped around a yellow-lidded water bottle against the body's lower abdomen.

hydration isn’t a hack

It’s just the most important thing. And we’re going to wear our best mama bear side-eye right now and say with confidence: You’re not drinking enough water. At the start of your cycle your progesterone and estrogen levels are lower, and this can cause your body to retain water. That bloated, sluggish feeling? It’s not because you need less water, it’s because you need more. How much more? MORE. You’re not going to over-do it, that’s pretty hard to do, actually. But if you want to know the recommended amount of water per day for your own unique body:

  1. Take your weight.
  2. Multiply your weight by 2/3 (67%), then that number is the base amount of water in ounces you should be drinking per day. So if you weigh 150 lbs, (150 x .67 = 100.5), then you should be drinking about 100 ounces of water per day.
  3. Add MORE. Add 12 ounces of water for every 30 minutes of exercise at minimum, for your daily water intake. And if you’re on your period, just add MORE.

pain prep

If you take over the counter pain relievers to help deal with cramps, try to take them before the cramps start, and streamline the process. For example, make sure to have the pain reliever by your bedside if your cramps tend to strike with the rising sun, as well as water and an easy snack (like a banana) since many pills are not meant to be taken on an empty stomach. Keep a kit in your car for on the go and just in case scenarios, too. A little bottle of pain reliever plus a granola bar in the glovebox and you’ll be thanking your past self somewhere down the achey menstruation road, promise.

be where you are

Hey, discomfort is gonna hit when it’s gonna hit, so here are a few ways to stretch and find some physical relief, depending on where you are.

Seated (Chair) – If you’re at work and trying to find relief from your seat, try a few rounds of gentle side twists. Inhale to lengthen your spine, drawing from the root of your pelvic floor and letting the breath rise up through the top of your head, allowing the arms to rise overhead, and then on an exhale, gently twist to the right, letting the arms lower. Inhale to return the arms overhead and to center, and exhale twist to the left. Inhale to return to center, and repeat for several breaths. Another lovely option if in a chair is to find some seated cat/cows. Bring the palms of the hands to the tops of your knees, inhale to lift your chin and find length through the spine, and then on an exhale, keeping the hands on the knees, straighten the arms, let the upper back round into an arch, drawing the chin toward the chest, and the navel in toward the spine. Then inhale to reverse, chin lifts, shoulders draw together along the back, collarbones open to the front, and repeat in this cat/cow motion for a few breath cycles.

seated cat/cow image via Very Well Fit

Standing – From a standing position with the feet hip distance apart, inhale to bring the arms overhead, then exhale to hinge at the hips, finding a forward fold. Letting the weight be heavy in the head and the tail be light, find some gentle sways while folded. Then inhale you’ll lift halfway, finding a flat back, exhale fold forward again, weight comes forward. Then inhale to rise up, arms overhead to find length, and exhale let the arms float down to your sides. Repeat this for a few breaths. Separate the feet a bit wider, inhale the arms overhead again, and then on an exhale return to a forward fold, letting the seat come all the way to the floor, until you’re in a squat. Pressing through the heels of your feet to find balance, let the tailbone be heavy, let the low back release. Bring your hands together in front of the sternum, the elbows to the insides of the knees. Breathe, staying in your squat for a few deep breaths. Then bring your hands to the floor, and on an inhale let the hips rise, returning you to a forward fold. Inhale halfway lift, hands to shins, exhale forward fold. Then inhale rise all the way up to standing, arms overhead, and exhale release. Repeat as much as you want.

Malasana pose (squat) image via Yogateket

pump iron

Your body needs iron, and the good news is, that stuff is everywhere if you pay attention! To make sure you’re getting as much as you should be while on your period, pump a bunch of iron into a daily smoothie. A few of our favorite ways to period hack a smoothie are by adding in leafy greens like kale and spinach, antioxidant-rich raspberries, nuts for protein, and probiotic goodness with yogurt or kombucha. Here’s a favorite base smoothie recipe for you.

let’s goOOOOO

Orgasms from sex and masturbation can relieve pain from cramps. This is a true story that we love to tell. The uterus contracts to help shed its lining, which is what causes the discomfort of cramps. The contracting and relaxing of the uterus from an orgasm helps relieve that discomfort, yay! Plus, all that feel-goodery releases endorphins, which activate opioid receptors in the body, helping to temporarily relieve pain. Partnered or solo, a good ol’ orgasm is a period hack for a natural painkiller.

cool pads

This hack may not be exclusively about periods, but it is a tender perineum’s favorite, for sure. For post partum relief, or other sensitive times that are goin’ down on the ground floor level, try spritzing an overnight pad with witch hazel and putting it in the freezer for a few minutes before snapping around your underwear, and snugging the cool pad up close to sensitive parts.

An organic overnight cloth pad sits on top of a cloth dishtowel inside a freezer drawer.

just one thing

Is using a menstrual cup a period hack? Maybe not, but it should be. Hacks make things simple right? And what’s more simple than only needing a single reusable product to satisfy your desert-island period needs? Not everyone wants to or can use a menstrual cup, but for those who can, you’ll hack away at a lot of things, like the amount of money you spend on period products, like how much waste gets created from disposables, like the amount of time spent having to frequently replace tampons because a cup can be worn for soooo much longer. We just convinced ourselves: Using a menstrual cup IS a period hack.