Bad Period Pain? These 7 Innovative Products Don’t Require You To Overdose on Advil
Periods suck, but these pain-relieving products can help them suck a little less.
Period pain, whether it’s fairly mild to totally excruciating, is no joke. While periods are supposed to symbolize a beautiful sign of womanhood (and a healthy sign that our bodies are just doing their thing), it’s probably the last thing on your mind when cramps are wreaking havoc on your uterus. Although Advil certainly helps, over-reliance on Ibuprofen can have some dangerous side effects. If you want a drug-free alternative to squashing your debilitating cramps (aside from loads of chocolate, which also helps), we compiled the best products to have with you during your next doozy of a period. Because you deserve to have at least a soft pillow and a killer heating pad while you’re menstruating.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t stop moving when your period hits, yet one in 10 women aren't able to go about their daily activities because of their period pain. For the times that you can’t walk around with a hot water bottle pressed against your abdomen, The Girls Company created a solution that can fit inside even a pencil skirt. Slip the warmers inside the pockets on the band—the thin strap encircles your stomach with a hug of warmth. Plus, the warmers are environmentally-safe, so you can dispose of them inside the trash with no guilt.
If heat doesn’t cut it for you, give transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation a whirl. I know that sounds more like an ancient torture method than a pain reliever, but it’s actually pretty effective. The technology works by sending continuous, mild electrical pulses through electrodes and into your skin along your nerve pathways, distracting your brain with the vibrations and blocking out the pain signals. This causes a release of endorphins and analgesic effect when applied at a non-painful intensity. Livia’s MP3-looking device, a wearable cube you affix to your stomach, does just that without clunky battery packs, cords, or wall outlets.
It’s no secret that taking a good bath is one of the best ways to unwind, but my favorite kind has to be with epsom salts, especially on my period. The magnesium present in epsom salts has anti-inflammatory properties and helps relax contracting uterine muscles that cause you grief. Doubled with hot water to numb the pain, it’s the ultimate relaxation experience—mentally and physically.
If you prefer to go the homeopathic route, naturopath and nutritionist Anna Mitsios says that essential oils are not only incredibly calming, but they also have the ability to promote circulation and reduce pain associated with cramps. Rub a few drops onto your abdomen to relieve comfort and provide some needed aromatherapy. “Use a carrier oil such as jojoba, hemp, or almond oil and add a few drops of peppermint, lavender, clary sage, chamomile and/or cinnamon. My favorite is peppermint oil as it is so versatile in its ability to boost energy and relieve headaches that come along with that time of the month.”
Bad news for coffee lovers: Caffeine consumption is strongly implicated in PMS symptoms, so the more caffeine you consume the worse your cramping is likely to be, says Mitsios. Swapping your cup of joe with soothing herbal teas is the best thing when your uterus is going to explode. This blend has no caffeine to help you avoid stomach burns and bloating, and helps to soothe your digestive system. “My favorite PMS tea is a freshly brewed ginger and cinnamon tea,” says Mitsios. “I literally add grated ginger and a quill of cinnamon into a mug, add hot water and a touch of stevia, and sip away.”
If you frequently find yourself curled up in the fetal position while on your period, a good hack is using pregnancy pillows to cuddle against. In addition to feeling like a comforting hug, the U-shaped pillow provides ergonomic positioning to support and relieve pressure from your arms, back, neck, head, or legs. Pregnant women use it as a way to relieve belly pressure while pregnant, but it works equally well for a troublesome uterus.
When your entire body is doubled up in pain, inserting a tampon or changing your pad every two to three hours can seem like a huge inconvenience (not to mention the sustainability aspect to consider). The idea of period underwear might sound off-putting, but hear me out: The super-absorbent fabric (the highest absorbency level can absorb up to five tampons' worth of liquid) is the best thing to have on without having to worry about toxic shock syndrome or multiple trips to the bathroom. (Not having something inside you or feeling like you’re wearing a diaper is another huge plus.) Although there’s nothing wrong with the granny panties that typically dominate the period underwear market, Proof also has lace, mesh, and even thong options if you want to feel a little sexier.