There are certain things about your period that are awesome, like the amount of nicknames we have for our menstrual cycle. We have "Aunt Flo" and "Your Monthly Visitor", both oldies but goodies; "Shark Week" and "Riding the Crimson Wave" are pretty popular; of course, "the Commies are in the Fun House", my personal favorite. In the same breath, I can tell you that having your period can be the pits. Thankfully, as the stigma surrounding menstruation continues to dwindle, women sharing their best menstrual cramps hacks is an actual thing. Having a period might mean you have to suffer, but it certainly doesn't mean you have to suffer alone.
While it helps to focus on the (other) positives about your period, like: not being pregnant (if you’re not trying to conceive), having an excuse to try out new period products (like those Thinx panties! or any number of rad menstrual cups), never leaving the couch and eating all the junk you want (we could technically eat it any time, but for some reason it just tastes better when I’m riding the cotton pony), it also helps to have some tips for how to get through the not-so-fun parts. Heavy flows and period migraines and strong cramps are very real things, the latter being especially wretched and capable of forcing us to miss out on everything from birthday parties to important work meetings and semester finals.
So, in the spirit of inclusivity and flow friendship and all things great about being one of the many people who have periods, I got to chatting about cramps with several menstruating folks and discovered a few hacks to help you get through that time of the month:
Exercise. Yoga made a huge difference in cramping for me. - Megan Eccles
“I know it's an old hack, but hugging a hot water bottle really does help mine. I'm a fan of Epsom salt baths, too. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, which is exactly the same stuff they pumped through my IV to prevent seizures after my son was born (woohoo pre-eclampsia). Obviously the concentration is different, but I notice a mild relaxing effect from the Epsom salt even though it's been filtered through my skin.” - Hannah Shanks
Crawling into the fetal position. Take Advil when pain is unbearable. Heating pads if it's really bad. - Nathalie F.
“I have horrible "fall down crying in pain" cramps. Usually for the first 2 days of my period. It literally feels like my uterus is attempting to claw it way out through my pelvic floor. Mostly I use strong pain killers, and massage for pain control. I have found abdominal/uterine massage to really help with the tension, and also to alleviate the length of my period.” - Noelle Byrne
Red raspberry leaf tea! - Ani Perreault
"Doing something you really enjoy. Although it won't reduce the pain, it distracts you from it. My cramps are always really bad so I read, watch my favourite show, go to the park with my little monster, go for a nice hot bath etc. There's lots you can do." - Kimi Ann Johnson
Yoga, especially reclined butterfly/bound angle pose. Also camel pose. - Cara Laird
“Heating pads and hot showers. Just giving in and accepting them and popping the Advil. Giving self permission to not cook dinner or workout or do anything beyond laying on the couch.” - Katie Schmidt McMurry
"I usually do yoga or any sports activity. I used to have relatively pain free periods but the last few have been hellish. Doctors chalk it up to stress." - Mariana Cano
CBD capsules. - Anonymous
"I remember hearing when I was a teen that orgasms helped cramps. Not sure if that's rooted in fact, but the placebo affect is a beautiful thing and who doesn't need more orgasms?" - Anonymous
"Nothing really ever helped me (endometriosis is a bitch) but a glass of red wine & 600mg of Advil always took the edge off. Small glass of red and only red...no idea why. Not sure if there's any science to it or not!" - Moggy Bee
Red raspberry tea works for me by helping with cramp pain management. - Toni Guyton
"2 Aleve, or honestly, however many I end up needing, along with a heating pad. I take those, get the heating pad, curl up in bed and pile blankets on myself. It makes me so hot, but the heat helps. I try to nap it off on the really bad days. When I'm unable to do these things, then I take a lot of Aleve and hope for the best." - Kristen Brown
"I used to get the worst cramps before my son. Four Aleve, heating pads, hot showers, working out, and/or weed. It actually works! Thank god ever since I had the baby, my cramps are much less severe. Not sure why but I'm not complaining." - Victoria Alvarez
Heating pad. - Alejandra Novo
"Walking always helps me, as does lots of water and alternating ibuprofen/acetaminophen exactly like after giving birth. I sometimes use the ThermaCare sticky heating things and those help a little." - Celeste McLean