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These Healthy Drinks Are Proven To Help With Period Pain

Here's how to sip your way into some period-related comfort. Literally.

Women's Health

Period pain. Lawd. Could there be something that is more annoying, especially since it happens every 28-30 days? Like, c'mon. If you've ever wondered about the science behind it all, basically, we need our uterus to contract, so that it can shed the lining that accumulated, just in case we conceived in between cycles. And so, what basically happens is, the prostaglandins levels in our system increase which trigger inflammation and also period pain, so that the blood is able to flow from our bodies.


When the cramping and total discomfort begin to set in, while your first inclination may be to pop as many ibuprofens as you can (because they are anti-inflammatories in medicine form), did you know that there are certain drinks that can help to ease what you are going through too? So, the next time you head out to stock up on pads, tampons, over the-counter-meds and whatever else can get you through, get at least two of these 10 drinks as well. I've tried several before and can vouch for the fact that they make periods easier to deal with. Thank the Lord.

1. Orange Juice

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When it comes to this topic, orange juice is a good place to start. That's because it's loaded with Vitamin C while also being a good source of protein, folate and potassium. As far as general health benefits go, orange juice is good for you because it is high in antioxidants, improves your digestive health, assists with preventing kidney-related diseases, keeps your eyesight in great shape (thanks to the beta-carotene that is in it) and, the flavonoids (hesperidin and anthocyanins) that are in orange juice, they even help to regenerate damaged cells. The magnesium that's also in orange juice can make period cramping less intense. Plus, its potassium can help to decrease the amount of bleeding that you do as well as help with making period pain less intense.

2. Oat Milk

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Although I'm a fan of almond milk (when it comes to how it tastes), once I discovered how bad it is for the environment (you can read more about what goes into making almond milk here), I switched over to oat milk. I have absolutely no regrets either. Oat milk is a good source of protein, dietary fiber, Vitamin B12, calcium and phosphorus. If you happen to be vegan and happen to have a nut allergy, because it's only made of oats and water, it's totally fine for you to drink. Plus, it's great for your bone health, can help to lower your cholesterol levels, will increase your energy levels, support the health of your blood cells and, thanks to all of the fiber in it, oat milk can keep you regular too.

And what does oat milk do for period pain? Well, two other nutrients that are found in oat milk are magnesium and zinc. This combo can reduce the uterine contractions that lead to cramping while helping to settle your nerves so that you can rest easier at night.

3. Cinnamon Tea

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If you like tea that is a bit on the spicy 'n sweet side, look no further than cinnamon tea. As far as health benefits go, it's packed with antioxidants, helps to lower your blood sugar levels, assists with eliminating bacteria and fungal overgrowth and can even improve your skin by fighting signs of aging and reducing breakouts. The reason why it's so dope to drink when you're on your period is because cinnamon tea contains properties that reduce bodily inflammation which can help to decrease menstrual-related discomfort and bleeding. Awesome.

4. Banana and Kiwi Smoothies

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While my periods aren't rough on the pain tip, the second day of my flow is so ridiculous that sometimes I'm too tired to do a lot of cooking. That's where smoothies come in because they are quick and easy to make yet, depending what you put in them, they are still loaded with nutrients. Take a banana and kiwi smoothie, for example. Bananas are good for you because they are full of fiber, protein, antioxidants, and some vitamins B6 and C, potassium and manganese. All of this helps to improve your digestive health, regulate your blood sugar, prevent muscle cramping and increase kidney health. Plus, the dopamine in bananas is helpful when it comes to keeping you in a positive mood. The Vitamin B6, along with the potassium in them can make cramping less severe.

As far as kiwi goes, talk about a little fruit that packs a powerful punch! Kiwi has fiber, copper, potassium, antioxidants, vitamins C, E, K and so much more in it. Also, kiwi has a reputation for easing asthma-related symptoms, regulating blood pressure, improving digestion, boosting immunity and helping to prevent chronic diseases from setting in. It's awesome when it comes to your period because the properties in kiwi can also help to prevent blood clotting. If your period pain is directly related to clotting, I'm sure you can see why this is certainly good news to know.

5. Kombucha

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Kombucha is a fermented form of green or black tea which definitely makes it an acquired taste. Still, it's one of the healthiest drinks around because it's loaded with antioxidants, is powerful when it comes to getting rid of bad bacteria in your system, it's great at helping to manage type 2 diabetes, it can reduce your heart disease risk and, it can even help to slow down the growth of cancer cells. There are two main reasons why it's so beneficial when you're on your period. First, something else that kombucha contains a high amount of is B vitamins. This is good to know because they can help to stabilize your moods. Also, there are tons of probiotics in this kind of drink which makes it something that can bring balance to your hormones so that period-related discomfort is less, well, uncomfortable.

6. Dark Chocolate Milk

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It's kinda crazy that something as good as dark chocolate comes with as many nutrients that it does. It's got a ton of fiber and also has an unbelievable amount of iron, magnesium, copper, antioxidants and manganese. It's also a good source of zinc, potassium and selenium. Because properties in dark chocolate can help to relax your arteries, it has a way of increasing easier blood circulation/flow, lowering your blood pressure, improving your brain function, protecting your skin from damaging sun rays and decreasing your stroke risk.

Period-wise, the potassium and zinc can soothe uterine contractions and the iron can replace some of it that's lost during your cycle. And, since calcium assists with reducing bloating and fatigue, whether you opt for milk or a milk alternative, dark chocolate milk is a delicious way to bring much period-related relief.

7. Watermelon Smoothies

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Whenever I think of the health benefits of consuming watermelon, the first thing I think about is how it has a reputation for being "the all-natural Viagra", thanks to the amino acid called citrulline in it that helps to relax blood vessels. Anyway, some of its other pluses include the fact that it's got a good amount of vitamins A, C and also Vitamin E (which is great because it has anti-inflammatory properties in it). Watermelon also contains compounds that help to fight cancer, improve heart health, reduce stress, decrease muscle soreness and improve the quality of your skin. If smoothies are totally your thing, a watermelon smoothie while you're on your period absolutely won't hurt a bit since it is able to hydrate you and help to increase easy blood flow, so that your cramping won't be quite as painful.

8. Ginger Tea

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Ginger tea is another spicy kind of tea that is really good around "that time of the month". That's because it also has anti-inflammatory properties in it, along with pain-relieving ones that can make cramps more tolerable and bloating less noticeable. Some other benefits of this particular kind of tea include the fact that it can help to reduce your blood pressure, ease the pain that's associated with headaches and migraines, aid in weight loss, soothe feelings related to nausea and, because it also has a lot of antioxidants in it, it can help to boost your immunity too.

9. Mocktails

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One thing that your period tends to do is dehydrate you. And so, if you're someone who, as soon as your cramps set in, the first thing you think is "Damn, I need a drink", try and go for a mocktail (an alcohol-free drink) instead of an actual cocktail. The reason why is because alcohol can sho 'nuf dehydrate you and, when that happens, it can lead to headaches, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, increased cramping and all sorts of other drama. While we're here, also avoid sugary drinks during this time of the month because they can have your moods being all over the place. That said, even when it comes to your mocktails, try and go with ones that don't have loads of sugar in them. Your period will certainly thank you.

10. Water

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We're made up of over 60 percent water so, of course, our system needs it. This is especially the case during our period since we tend to lose body fluids which can make period pain that much worse. If you add to this the fact that water also flushes out toxins, helps to keep you regular, boosts energy levels, protects organs and tissues, cushions joints, keeps your body temperature stabilized, aids in digestion, supports weight loss, clears skin and treats headaches — if you drink nothing else on this list, make sure to get no less than 6-8 glasses of water. It will definitely do a body good…especially when you're on your period.

To learn more about all things vaginal health and wellness, check out the xoNecole Women's Health section here.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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