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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
- Best Time Of The Month: Sex & Conception - xoNecole: Women's ... ›
- These Foods Will Make Your Period So Much Easier To Handle ... ›
- 10 Organic Tampon Brands You Might Want To Try On Your Next ... ›
- The Best Menstrual Cup For 2020 - xoNecole: Women's Interest ... ›
- 6 Best Period Subscription Boxes For Monthly Essentials - xoNecole ... ›
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by JD Mason/ Unsplash