Woman drinking milk

Follow some simple tips to avoid a painful period and get quick relief!

Ease period pain

It's the time of month when you have to deal with pain and cramps, bloating and a general irritation brought on by your period. If suffering from these symptoms is a regular part of your menstrual cycle, try these helpful tips and get some relief.

Hydrate

Water with lemon

It's a myth that water causes the bloating you often feel during your period. Staying fully hydrated actually helps eliminate that bloated sensation. Drinking enough water -- at least two liters every day -- will speed up your digestion and help prevent water retention caused by monthly hormonal changes.

Reduce salt and caffeine

Avoid processed and fast foods, with their high-salt composition, and you'll help hold water retention at bay and minimize bloating. Caffeine -- found in your daily ration of coffee, tea or soda -- can irritate the stomach by increasing gastrointestinal acidity, making your cramps worse and adding to the discomfort. You don't have to give up your morning pick-me-up cup of coffee, but do limit your intake.

Get enough calcium

Foods rich in calcium -- broccoli, yogurt, cabbage and milk -- will naturally fight muscle spasms and help you avoid cramps. Women need at least 1,200 mg of calcium daily, and choosing to get yours though leafy green veggies like kale and spinach has the added advantage of an extra dose of vitamins that can help lighten your flow.

Quick tip

Menstrual pain and cramps can be reduced by drug treatment with ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen. If you have a regular menstrual cycle, taking one of these pills one day before your period starts can often get rid of the normal discomfort.

Add moderate exercise

Pedometer and running shoes

Stretch those abdominal muscles with a gentle yoga workout. While you may not feel energetic enough for your normal fitness routine, increasing the blood flow to your pelvic region will give quick relief from cramps. Take a walk or jog, swim or stretch and you will alleviate much of the discomfort of your period. The exercise also releases endorphins into your system so you feel more relaxed, and it helps prevent the tightening of muscles that are a precursor to cramps.

Eat some chocolate

Chocolate

A daily dose of chocolate during your period is just what the doctor ordered! A square of dark chocolate stimulates secretions of serotonin -- which gives you a good feeling. The irritation, anxiety and mood swings you may be experiencing are mellowed away as the chocolate hits your system. Look for high cacao levels in dark chocolate to soothe your spirits.

More on women's health

5 Ways to get menstrual cramp relief
Body basics: How to track your cycle
7 Things to avoid when you're on your period

Apply some heat

Stretch out and relax for a few minutes with a heating pad set on low resting on your abdomen. The heat will loosen tight muscles and ease cramping, while the quiet time lowers anxiety and allows you to recharge and feel less irritated and moody.

Make sure your intake of vitamins is sufficient through smart food choices and supplements when needed. B vitamins will help with bloating, and Vitamin C and zinc are essential to every woman for a healthy reproductive system. Following some simple guidelines can help make your next period practically painless!

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