It’s important to treat your body well and regularly practice proper hygiene, especially when it’s your time of the month. Thankfully, most of us are lucky enough to have access to clean water and a wide variety of affordable menstrual products. I get a lot of questions regarding hygiene during menses, which helps me identify some of the more common mistakes women are making in the process.
Don’t use scented toilet paper, tampons or pads. These can be very irritating to your skin and might even cause burn-like symptoms. Make sure all of your products are fragrance-free and don’t contain additives like aloe. For some, organic products might be a better pick because they don’t include pesticides or other chemicals.
Don’t wait to take medications until your cramps are bad. If you usually suffer from cramps, you should ideally start using a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as Motrin, Advil or Pamprin the day before your period starts.
Don’t avoid tracking your period. Your menstrual cycle can be a valuable marker for your overall health. In fact, conditions including diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, celiac disease and even some cancers can present through irregular menses. Clue is the top-ranked (and free) period and ovulation-tracking app according to the Obstetrics & Gynecology Journal, an official publication of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). There are many other resources available to help you track your period, so ask your OB/GYN.
Don’t wash your vagina and vulva too thoroughly. This can throw off your pH balance, leaving you more vulnerable to yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Try using a feminine oral probiotic, like Fem-Dophilus or IsoFresh, if you think you’re prone to these infections. It’s important to remember vaginal discharge will change throughout both your menstrual cycle and your life. Sometimes there will be more, and sometimes there will be less. Discharge isn’t always a worrisome indicator. Rinse the vagina and vulva with water only, and the groin can be washed with a perfume-free natural soap.
Don’t forgo condoms during your period. Especially if you’re thinking you wont get pregnant, because some women have. You’re more likely to get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or pelvic inflammatory disease as consequence because the cervix is slightly dilated.
Don’t change your tampon infrequently. You definitely don’t want to leave a tampon inside of you for more than eight hours. Ideally, you change it every three to four hours. The risk is toxic shock syndrome, a rare and potentially lethal infection that spreads to the bloodstream. This occurs more frequently in women who use more absorbent “super” tampons.
Don’t let cravings win. If you’re not eating healthy or interrupting your regular exercise routine during your period, this will likely only lead to more bloating and mood swings. Continue following your healthy eating habits and get to the gym! You’ll feel much better at the end of the day. Drink lots of water, too. This will keep you hydrated and help with the bloating and swelling that comes with hormonal fluctuation.
Dr. Wiener’s comments originally appeared in an article from HelloGiggles.
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