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13 ways youre making your period worse
Periods are no fun, but sometimes our own bad habits make them worse. Here are a few fixes to help make your period easier to deal with. - photo by Karen Banes
You could doing a few things to make your period worse than it needs to be, but most of them are surprisingly easy to fix. If youre doing any of the following, try changing things up a bit to see if it makes your period easier to deal with.

1. Ignoring your general health

There are all sorts of treatable medical conditions that can make your period worse. From endometriosis to pelvic inflammatory disease, its not uncommon for menstrual symptoms to lessen after another condition has been treated, so see your OBGYN regularly, have all your health checks and tell your doctor if your periods seem to change or worsen.

2. Eating junk

We often crave junk food when were feeling tired, cranky and crampy, but we dont do ourselves any favors when we give in. Sugar is highly inflammatory and can make cramps worse. Too much salt contributes to water retention and bloating. And even dairy products can disrupt hormones, contribute to bloating and cramps and generally worsen symptoms.

3. Skipping the protein

If sugar, salt and dairy contribute to bloating, what should we be eating? Healthy proteins like chicken, fish, nuts and seeds, and tofu work well for most people. They also help to up your healthy fat intake. Its natural to turn to carb-filled comfort food when feeling crampy, but upping the protein is what our body would prefer.

4. Being too sedentary

Its easy to convince yourself that your period is an excuse to skip your workout and veg out on the couch, but gentle exercise can help you feel better. Dr Sherry Ross says that exercising during your period, helps gets rid of extra water weight gain, relieves cramps, and releases endorphins, which helps improve your mood and gives you more energy.

Just dont overdo it. Most people have less energy during their period, and overly rigorous exercise will disrupt hormones and drain you even more. Stay active with plenty of light to moderate exercise.

5. Managing stress poorly

Stress is harder to deal with when youre weakened by blood loss and experiencing physical pain or discomfort. Everyone needs to learn to manage stress in a healthy way, but its particularly important during your period.

6. Leaving mental health issues untreated

Research suggests that past or current mood or anxiety disorders (including a history of depression or an incidence of post-partum depression) can all increase the risk of Pre Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (a more severe type of depression experienced or worsening just before your period).

7. Drinking alcohol

Alcohol affects everyone differently, but many women find that their experience more PMS symptoms, worse cramps and even heavier bleeding if they drink during their period. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, even mild or moderate alcohol use can impact hormones, disrupt normal menstrual cycling and affect reproductive health.

If you drink regularly or heavily, one alcohol-free week a month may well have a positive impact on your health in other ways too.

8. Ignoring your iron levels

Anemia is not unusual in menstruating women, and youre especially at risk if you have very heavy periods or your periods have become heavier over time. Anemia's main symptom is tiredness, and thats a very easy one to ignore.

Get your iron levels checked if you feel constantly tired, especially if your periods are heavy. Dont take iron tablets just in case you have low iron levels Too much iron can be harmful. Get a blood test and only take iron supplements at the level your doctor suggests.

9. Using toxic sanitary products

Its shocking how many feminine hygiene products contain toxic ingredients. Switch to natural products, or consider using a menstrual cup to keep nasty toxins out of your body.

10. Or just not changing them enough

You should change tampons every four hours (and never leave them more than eight hours) in order to avoid toxic shock syndrome. You also want to change pads regularly to avoid bacterial or yeast infections.

11. Not going with the flow

Excuse the pun, but adapting your activities to how you feel can have a positive impact on your wellbeing, all month long. Listen to your body, and dont push yourself too hard physically (or emotionally) when you dont feel up to it.

12. Avoiding pain killers

Many of us feel we should just tough it out when we have our period. Its just a normal part of life after all, but painkillers can help relief thee worst of our cramps and make a real difference on a day where we can't stay in bed all morning.

Its important not to overuse painkillers so alternatives like heat pads are great if youre chilling at home on your sofa but I'd opt for taking some pain relief if you have an important work presentation.

13. Not tracking when your period is due

We all lead crazy busy lives, and our menstrual cycle is the last thing on our minds. But knowing the details of your cycle can help you deal with the hormonal shifts that happen all month long. If you suffer from PMS, sometimes the first step is simply knowing when youre going to be most vulnerable to it and avoiding extra stress at these times whenever possible.