Summer is a time of beach vacations, outdoor barbeques and healthy summer activities. If you have plans and suddenly realize your period is due, you might worry that your monthly visitor will put a literal “cramp” in your style. Instead of canceling or fretting, try these tips to manage your period and lessen the discomfort.
Know where the bathroom is
If you’re going on a summer trip – whether it’s a day trip to the lake, a festival or a week-long road adventure – you’ll be far away from your usual surroundings. When you know your period is coming, it helps to take frequent bathroom breaks so you can change your hygiene products to prevent leaking or discomfort. When scouting out bathroom locations in a new environment, technology makes it a breeze with several free apps that can help you find a public bathroom no matter where you are.
When it comes to hydration, a period in summer means a double whammy. You’re more likely to lose water through sweat and your flow.
“It’s vital to replenish your body with the fluids it needs, so you don’t wind up dehydrated,” said Breanna Zimmermann, nurse practitioner in OB/GYN at Marshfield Clinic Health System. “Stock up on reusable water bottles and make them your new best friend. If you’re doing physical activity, you might want to sip something with electrolytes – minus the sugar.”
Avoid salty snacks
Even if you crave salty foods when you have your period, try to resist the urge to grab that bag of chips. Salt means extra water retention that can exacerbate an already bloated sensation when your period might have you feeling that way already. Zimmermann recommends eating symptom-fighting foods to manage your period this summer.
Eat symptom-fighting foods
Some foods that can alleviate period symptoms like cramps, bloating and cravings include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to help increase fluid intake. Foods like pineapple and kiwi can help decrease bloating and avoiding constipation, which can make period symptoms worse. Dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are rich in calcium, which decreases muscle cramping. Fortunately, some of those are nice and portable, making them ideal for taking on-the-go.
“My favorite idea is to pack yourself a PB&J made with whole-wheat bread and a banana on the side, then get out and enjoy the summer day worry-free,” Zimmermann said.
Additionally, she advises avoiding broccoli, kale and beans because those typically cause abdominal bloating.
Wear a comfy outfit
When it comes to your period in the summer, choose your outfits with comfort in mind. For instance, tight clothing might feel too constricting when you’re having period symptoms, so you may want to opt for something loose-fitting. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style, though, summer clothing is often all about being loose and flowy anyway. Try a maxi skirt, palazzo pants, your favorite pair of soft, stretchy jeans or comfy shorts. As for wearing white, use your best judgment based on your comfort level and flow.
Pack extra feminine hygiene products
Zimmermann said it’s always a good rule of thumb to pack more hygiene products than you think you’ll need. Even if you’re not expecting it for a little while, keep a stash of tampons and pads in your purse or the car just in case your menstrual cycle pops in as a surprise. If you prefer a menstrual cup, it makes packing easier, although you might want backup liners too. Making sure you have products on-hand will help you enjoy your summer vacation stress-free.
Enjoy some light exercise
Exercise might be the last thing on your mind when you’re feeling cramped and bloated, but sticking with a routine can have you feeling better before and during your period.
“Exercise can decrease PMS symptoms, elevate your mood, reduce pain and give you the energy to seize the summer day ahead,” Zimmermann said. “I’m not saying you need to run a marathon, but walking and light strength training are all you need. Yoga can be helpful to do before your period starts thanks to its relaxing effect on the body.”
With these tips to manage your period, you’re all set to enjoy yourself this summer. If concerns about heavy or painful periods are getting you down, talk to your women’s health provider or make an appointment with your primary care provider.