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11 Period Mistakes You're Making

There's always been a stigma around your period. When I was a preteen, everything was all about who had gotten their period and who hadn't. It was somehow a gauge of how mature you were during grade school, as though your ovaries had everything to do with your maturity level. No matter how well you're prepped and primed for the rite of passage that is your period, there's a good chance there are still period mistakes you're making that you don't even realize. Hell, I'm almost 30 years old, and there are still mistakes I'm making.

When my mother prepared me for the glory of menstruation as a preteen, she made it very easy for me to understand. She also made it very clear that getting your period was nothing to be ashamed of, and that it simply meant that my body was changing. And although it may seem that straightforward as young woman, the truth is, there's a lot more going on inside your body than you realize. And there are a lot more opportunities for mistakes than you realize. Prevent yourself from making the following all too common period mistakes by reading on and taking notes. Because what's better than being educated about your own body?

1. You Takie Pain Medication After The Pain Starts

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I'm not sure why I never caught onto this before, but waiting until you're in debilitating pain to take a pain killer is less effective than if you take them before the cramps kick in. According to the Summit Medical Group, taking an anti-inflammatory one to two days before bleeding begins can prevent cramping. Genius.

2. You Use A Tampon When You're Not Bleeding

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Some women tend to think they're beating the system by using a tampon the day before they're scheduled to get their period, to prevent any spotting or leakage from ruining their favorite pair of underwear. But using a tampon when you're not bleeding can be really, really terrible for you. In an interview with Cosmopolitan, gynecologist Alyssa Dweck, said using a tampon prior to menstruation can lead to infection and mess with your pH levels. Just say no to tampons, unless you're actually bleeding.

3. You Don't Track Your Period

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It took me until I was well into my 20s to start tracking my period, and I wish I had started sooner. All About Women noted that by tracking the days, heaviness of your flow, level of pain, and the kind of cramps you're experiencing, you and your OB-GYN will be able to identify any irregularities you may experience.

4. You Don't Wash Your Hands Enough

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Think about how many things you touch throughout the day. Now think about any of those germ-ridden objects near your vagina. Um, no thank you. Your hands are covered in bacteria, and if you're not washing them thoroughly before you insert a tampon, you're putting yourself at risk. Though it may seem more important to wash your hands after you're finished inserting a tampon, Bustle noted that washing hands before putting in a tampon is just as important.

5. You Don't Get Enough Rest

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Pushing through the pain and exhaustion that comes along with having your period might seem like a natural way to cope, after all, you can't just stop your entire life because you've got your period. You've got a life, a job, and more to take care of. But getting enough rest while you're on your period is of the utmost importance. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, many women feel a shift in their ability to sleep while experiencing PMS. Practicing good sleep habits while on your period will help you with fatigue, irritability, and overall productivity.

6. You Drink Too Much Caffeine

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Drinking caffeine while you have your period can actually make your uncomfortable PMS symptoms even worse. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola of the Optimal Wellness Center, caffeine consumption is related to elevated estrogen levels, which increases the risk of developing breast and endometrial cancers. Mercola noted that eliminating or decreasing caffeine from your diet may be beneficial to your health and alleviate discomfort during your menstrual cycle.

7. You Don't Consume Enough Iron

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During your period, you can experience an iron deficiency. It happens when you lose enough blood during menstruation that your body's iron stores become depleted. This is why it's common when women crave things like hamburgers while on their periods. Women's Health reported on a Finnish study that showed that taking iron supplements can help combat the development of anemia.

8. You Use Scented Products

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Just as using tampons before you're actually bleeding can alter the pH in your vagina, so can feminine hygiene products that are scented. Mostly made from artificial components, Hello Life noted that scented products contain chemicals that aren't great to be putting inside your body. In fact, they can actually make you smell worse, creating undesired discharge and itchiness from your pH being altered drastically.

9. You Don't Pay Attention To Your Discharge

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Aside from shedding your uterine lining, the blood you excrete while on your period is actually telling you something. The color and texture of your menstrual blood matters. According to WebMD, bright red blood is a good sign and the occasional clotting is normal. Dark colors are normal too, as it's usually just older blood that took a longer time to come out. But if you're seeing blood with an orange tint, contact your doctor immediately, as it could mean that you're battling an infection.

10. You Don't Change Your Tampon After Being In The Water

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Whether you've been at the beach, in the hot tub, or in the shower for a while, you need to be changing out your tampon immediately after. Gynecologist Alyssa Dweck told Cosmopolitan that dirty water attaches itself to the string of your tampon, which can irritate your skin and help bacteria travel up the string and into your vagina.

11. You Don't Change Your Tampon Often Enough

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The directions on your tampon box aren't there just for suggestion. According to Tampax, the most you should wear a tampon for is eight hours. And wearing one for longer than that can increase your risk of infection and Toxic Shock Syndrome. Do yourself a favor and avoid those possibilities by changing your tampon every four to eight hours.