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Hack Your Way To Making Your Period The Best Time Of The Month

Women's Health

If you're anything like me, you probably have a pretty intense love/hate relationship with your period. On one hand, you know it's something that women do so, every time yours rolls around, it's a reminder that our bodies are working just as they should be. On the other, ugh—there's the bloating, the cramping, the semi-paranoia that you're leaking, and (what really gets on my last nerve), the period pimples that almost always leave some sort of mark behind.


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Even though I'm almost 45, my periods are still something I can set my watch to—the 21st, sometime around noon. I'm gonna be bloated, there's gonna be a zit in the most inconvenient place on my face, and my first two days are gonna be so heavy that sticking close to home is wise. Lord.

The silver lining is, as I have figured out what to expect (and endure) about my cycle, I've also discovered that the following 10 hacks have a way of making everything about my period a lot more pleasant than they used to be. Thank goodness for that!

Download a Period App

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While a lot of people are down for using a period app when they're trying to conceive, some folks sleep on also using them if they're not. Since most physicians agree that a woman can get pregnant five days a month (4-5 days going into ovulation and about a day afterward), if you're sexually-active, you need to keep up with when those days are. If your period is not regulated, your ovulation could be all over the place.

Just so you can actually smile when you see a plus sign on a pregnancy test,download a period app. That way, you can know when it's a good idea to take extra special precautions when it comes to gettin' some so that getting pregnant isn't something that catches you off guard in the not-so-good kind of way.

Buy Some Organic Tampons and Pads

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Personally, I prefer pads. I'm pretty sure a lot of it has to do with being taught that blood is designed to flow out and pads make that possible. Not to say that I don't totally get the convenience of wearing tampons (especially as it relates to the non-squishy factor). Either way, it's best to go with organic brands for both. Not only are they hypoallergenic but since they're biodegradable, they're good for the environment too.

Try a Pair of Period Panties

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This is how old I am. When I got my first period (at 12), sanitary napkins still came with the belt that you had to wear around your waist. I was a couple of years older before I started wearing the self-adhesive kind. My point? Every time something new comes out as it relates to our menstrual cycle, we're gonna be skeptics, at first. That's why I totally get that you might turn up your nose at any pair of underwear that professes to hold two tampons-worth of blood, but that's just what Thinx panties do.

Personally, I think they're best for light days or when you need some extra back-up for your tampons or pads on heavy ones or when you want to sleep overnight in peace. While they're not the cheapest drawers on the planet (between $24-38 based on the style of panties you want), to know that you can toss all of your period panties away and reuse your Thinx makes it well worth the price tag (to me).

Invest in a Menstrual Cup

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Something that is proven to make menstrual cramps so much easier to bear is having sex; more specifically, having orgasms from sex. The oxytocin that's produced from them helps to relieve uterine pain and discomfort.

That said, if you and/or your partner cringe at the sight of blood, consider using a menstrual cup or, my personal favorite, menstrual disc. Someone convinced me to give the disc a try and I must say that it was remarkable to not see or even feel any blood the entire time it was in there. Well…that is until it's time to take the disc or cup out. Then it's a bit like a murder scene.

However, women have told me that they've had sex and not even told their man they were on their period, thanks to the cup/disc, so…that makes all of the blood fingers worth it. Right? (If you wanna figure out, which cup is best for you, take a quiz here.)

Pay Attention to Your Blood’s Color

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Just like your vaginal discharge can tell you a lot about your health, so can the color of your menstrual blood. Bright red is the color of new blood. Dark red is the color of blood that comes out in the morning time. Brownish red is old blood (typically what you'll see towards the end of your cycle). Pinkish red is usually what happens when you're spotting (although it can also be a sign that you are vitamin deficient). Orange-red is somewhat OK, but if the texture and scent are also different, see your doctor. It could be a sign that you've got an STD. And finally, if your blood happens to have a blue or purple tint, that tends to mean that your estrogen levels are higher than normal and you need more fiber in your system to balance them out.

Take Some Evening Primrose Oil, Calcium and Vitamin E

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Something that has totally changed my life is evening primrose oil. It's a gamma-linolenic acid that contains anti-inflammatory properties that decrease PMS symptoms and perimenopause and menopause symptoms too. Since I've added it to my daily diet, I've had very little breast tenderness and no cramping discomfort at all.

As far as calcium goes, a lot of women have PMS symptoms simply because they are low in it. But if you take around 500 mg a day, it can reduce fatigue, cravings, and even feelings of depression. Personally, I prefer taking a calcium, magnesium, and zinc blend because the combo also calms my nervous system and helps me to sleep more soundly.

Vitamin E is cool because it slows down prostaglandins (compounds in the body that create hormone-like effects). As a result, cramps decrease significantly so. Foods that are high in Vitamin E include almonds, spinach, sunflower seeds, avocados, and mangoes.

Just make sure to consume these things throughout the entire month. You need a while to get it totally into your system in order for them to be the most effective.

Use Geranium Essential Oil

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Whether you're looking to regulate your period or to decrease the amount of cramping that you feel, it's well worth the money to pick up a bottle of geranium oil. It's great because it helps to balance out your hormones. This is also the kind of oil that regulates your blood flow by constricting your blood vessels. Plus, it contains anti-inflammatory properties to relieve cramping and discomfort.

Usage tip: It's most effective if you add 3-4 drops of it into a carrier oil like sweet almond, avocado, or grapeseed and then rub your abdomen area with it, 2-3 times per day, during your period.

Eat Toast and Melons. Don’t Eat Dairy and Sugar.

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It's pretty common to experience cravings while you're on your period. Just keep in mind that what you eat will determine a lot about how good or bad you'll feel until your cycle is over.

Foods that make the thumbs up list include toast and melons. Whole grain toast, because your body needs carbs during this time and it's a complex one that's better for you than cake or cookies. Also, whole grains produce serotonin in the body which soothes and relaxes you (which is why whole grain popcorn is a great "period food" too). Melons are beneficial because they contain something known as Cucumis melo; that's relevant because, in the days leading up to your period, your body stores up salt and fluids. Cucumis melo is a compound that flushes unneeded water from your system so that you have less bloating.

Foods that get the thumbs down? One of them is dairy. That's because it contains arachidonic acids. What those end up doing is triggering your prostaglandins in your body and increasing the intensity of your cramps. Another no-no is sugar. Yes, you may crave it, but it's a substance that will send your blood sugar levels on the kind of roller coaster ride that will throw your testosterone and estrogen levels completely off. In fact, a lot of women's mood swings during PMS can be directly attributed to them giving into their sugar cravings.

Don’t Drink Coffee. Do Drink Peppermint Tea.

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No matter how much you love a piping cup of java in the morning, in the days leading up to your period and until it ends, try your best to go without it (or, at the very least, drink some decaf). The caffeine that's in coffee naturally causes your blood vessels to constrict. When that happens, your cramps feel stronger and can even last longer.

Instead, opt for some herbal tea; preferably peppermint tea. The antioxidants in it will make PMS symptoms like bloating and fatigue less of an issue. Plus, the menthol and anti-spasmodic properties that are found in peppermint leaves will provide a cooling effect on your reproductive system while lessening your cramps simultaneously.

Take a Nap

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If you're someone who feels severely sleep-deprived during your period, you are not alone. Reportedly, 23 percent of women claim to not get enough z-z-z's the week before their period and 30 percent claim to toss and turn during the week of their cycle.

Aside from the fact that power naps increase productivity and creativity, reduce stress, and betters your mood, it can also relax your reproductive system so that your period doesn't drain you quite so much.

You can take advantage of all of these benefits by laying your head down for 10-15 minutes. Definitely something to think about when you're trying to decide between taking a nap in your car or going to the closest drive-thru on your lunch break.

(Hint, the nap is your better bet!)

Take care of you; especially during that time of the month, OK?

Featured image by Megan Madden / Refinery29 for Getty Images

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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