I'm a gynaecologist – here's 7 things you should never do on your period and what to try instead | The Sun

IT's that time of the month again and you're battling crippling cramps and pain that radiates through your lower back.

Well if you've tried a hot water bottle, herbal tea and a warm bath and you still feel like you want to lie in bed all day, listen up.

According to gynaecologists, there are several simple changes you can make to your routine in the run-up to your period that can help to relieve any discomfort.

So from salty snacks to keeping busy, here's what experts say we shouldn't eat, drink and do during menstruation.

1. Drink coffee

Caffeine can increase tension and worsen period symptoms like bloating and cramps, according to Dr Thejaswini J, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Motherhood Hospitals in Bangalore, India.

It blocks a hormone that can make blood vessels smaller, which slows the flow of blood.


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Several studies in 2014 and 2016 found that even a single cup of coffee was linked to more intense pain, and high intake (more than 300mg a day) could double the risk.

Plus, scientists know caffeine can cause irritability, mood swings and anxiety – three things we definitely don't want more of.

2. Scoff salty foods

Foods high in sodium are unhealthy at any time of the month, but particularly during your period, according to an article by Flo Health, reviewed by obstetrician and gynaecologist Kate Shkodzik.

They can worsen bloating and water retention, making you feel even more unpleasant.

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Research by the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro found salty meals like pizza and chips were particularly bad for causing inflammation, which may lead to increased pain.

3. Smoke

Another habit best left behind is smoking.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, women who smoke experience more severe premenstrual symptoms and have a 50 per cent increase in cramps lasting two or more days.

And the more cigarettes you puff, the worse it gets, separate guidance by researchers in Australia states.

Even breathing in second-hand smoke could contribute to your cramps, a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found.

Dr Jennifer Leighdon Wu, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, said: "We know that smoking causes vasoconstriction, or constriction of the blood vessels.

"When this happens with the uterus, it can cause pain."

4. Get boozy

It might be tempting to reach for your favourite tipple when you're feeling blue, but experts say it's best to steer clear.

Alcohol impacts your hormone levels and can increase the production of both oestrogen and testosterone.

Too much of either can exacerbate PMS symptoms, especially mood swings and irritability, Dr Shkodzik said.

Booze also makes you need the loo more often and can cause dehydration which can make cramps worse.

5. Skip meals

Even if you don't feel like eating, you should try to maintain regular mealtimes, Dr J told Health Shots.

Any disruption to your schedule and a lack of nutrients can see your energy levels and general wellbeing plummet.

It can also aggravate nausea, Dr Shkodzik said.

6. Gorge on sugar

Once you've ditched the salt, you should think about scrapping sugar too.

It is said to contribute to bloating and gas, and cause a spike in blood sugar.

After a temporary rush, you'll likely experience a major crash which will leave you feeling worse than before.

Dr J said: "Processed and sugary foods can contribute to inflammation and bloating, intensifying period discomfort.

"Opt for healthier alternatives instead."

7. Do too much

Finally, it's comforting to hear from a doctor that it's good to chill.

Dr J said: "Don’t ignore your body’s needs – listen to it and rest when necessary.

"Pushing yourself too hard during menstruation can increase fatigue and discomfort."

But once you've cut these things out, what should you do instead?

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Health experts recommend you try the following:

  1. Staying hydrated – drinking enough water will reduce bloating and promote better overall health
  2. Maintaining a healthy diet – eating plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins will help you feel better
  3. Getting moving – exercise releases endorphins which are natural painkillers
  4. Relaxation – yoga, deep breathing, gentle stretching and meditation help relieve tension
  5. Getting some sleep – getting enough rest is the best way to relax your body and mind
  6. Applying heat – a hot water bottle or heat paid on your stomach can reduce cramps and relieve pain
  7. Taking painkillers – medication will help provide instant relief

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