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Health

16 Ways to Make PMS Suck Less

So you can skip that whole irrational crying, ice cream bingeing, writhing in pain thing this month.

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Feel that familiar pain and rage coming on? It’s your uterus’ way of telling you that you’re going to be out of commission for the next week.

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Pretty soon, even you won’t want to be around you.

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But PMS isn’t going to win this time. You’re going to be a real person with goals and non-elastic waistbands and plans that occur outside of your apartment. You. Got. This. Here’s how to be a lot less miserable in the process:

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1. Have some wine with your cramps.

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If PMS makes you curl up on the floor with a bottle of merlot, you might actually be on to something. One study on rats found that resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, helped to stop uterine contractions from elevated levels of prostaglandins (which are the hormone-like compounds that trigger human cramps). If rats don't convince you, a recent study on over 3,000 women found that having more than one drink per week was negatively associated with anxiety, mood changes, and headache brought on by your period.

2. Pop OTC pain relievers before the pain starts.

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No one ever got a medal for braving cramps without meds. The day before your period, start taking ibuprofen to stay ahead of the pain, ob-gyn Dr. Alyssa Dweck, co-author of V is For Vagina, told BuzzFeed Life.

3. Use an app to know when it's going to show up each month.

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Apps like Clue and Glow and Kindara help you track your cycle each month and send you reminders when it's almost time. This way, at least you'll know why you're suddenly starting fights with everyone you know… and why you ate eggs with a side of brownies for breakfast. Pro tip: These are especially crucial if you get migraines or cramps every month and need to take medicine before the pain gets unbearable, says Dweck.

4. Make birth control your best friend.

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Even if you aren't looking for pregnancy protection, a hellish period might be a good reason to go on birth control. A major review of 23 studies confirmed that oral contraceptives with low or moderate doses of estrogen can ease the pain from PMS. Plus, birth control can make your period shorter, your flow lighter, and your hormonal swings less severe.

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5. Load up on dairy in the days before your period.

Calcium is actually a PMS crime-stopper. One study found that taking calcium supplements helped with mood, bloating, cravings, and pain. And more recent research points to a correlation between period troubles and intake of calcium and vitamin D. Fact: That wedge of brie has about a quarter of your recommended daily calcium.

6. Play Kim Kardashian: Hollywood to fight cravings.

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If all you can think about is inhaling a plate of spaghetti followed by Oreos, grab your phone. A recent study in the journal Appetite asked people about their current cravings and then had them either play Tetris or wait for a game to load. Those who played the game reported fewer and less vivid cravings afterward, and researchers think it has to do with imagery being involved in our desire to eat an entire cheesecake. Interrupting that imagery with a visually based task (like playing on your phone) can distract you long enough to forget the cake.

7. Wash your face way more often.

A lot of people have oilier skin during their periods, which contributes to breakouts, dermatologist Dr. Michele Green told BuzzFeed Life. She suggests exfoliating with products containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide more often than you normally do while PMSing (so twice a week or every other day, depending on your usual routine). This will help dry out that excess oil and treat the pimples that already popped up.

8. Add some thyme to your tea for a DIY cramp-reliever.

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A recent study found that thyme essential oil was just as effective as ibuprofen in relieving pre-period cramps. Since it can be tricky to find legit essential oil or know how much to use, stick with the herb instead. Add fresh or dried thyme to boiling water and let it sit before drinking.

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9. Have sex to feel less pain and more awesome.

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You know how pulling your hair doesn't hurt as bad when you're having sex? Yeah, that magic works for cramps too. A 1988 study in the Journal of Sex Research found that genital stimulation made people less sensitive to pain. Plus, having an orgasm releases endorphins, which make you happy, says Dweck. Basically, PMS won't bother you so much after some really good sex. You can also get off solo — an orgasm is an orgasm as far as your period is concerned.

10. Give your breasts a break from caffeine.

If your bouncing boobs hurt so bad that you refuse to take the stairs, your coffee addiction might be the problem. “Caffeine can up the chance of breast cysts and cystic changes," says Dweck. If you drink a few cups a day and you are very aware of your boobs while PMSing, cut back on caffeine right before your period to see if it helps.

11. Eat all of the protein so you don't fall asleep at your desk.

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So tired. Need candy. Also carbs. Mac and cheese with a side of M&Ms? OK, stop that. To be a functioning person on your period, you need protein. Research shows that protein actually gives you more energy and alertness than sugar. When your period is due, make sure you're getting the 46 grams of daily protein you need. And that doesn't necessarily mean snacking on a boneless chicken breast — here are tons of meat-free meals packed with protein.

12. Reschedule your waxing appointment.

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You're not crazy, your genitals actually are more sensitive when you're PMSing. Science confirms it: Your threshold for pain is lower right before your period. Do yourself (and your waxer) a favor, and take a raincheck.

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13. Somehow, get yourself moving and sweating.

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PMS is not a get-out-of-the-gym-free card, and it can actually help you feel better faster. A recent study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who hopped on a treadmill three times a week for three months reported fewer PMS symptoms. Note to gyms: Add this info to your ad campaigns.

14. Swear off salt for 72 hours to feel less bloated.

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Difficult decision time: Do you want to house a bag of chips or do you want to fit into something other than sweatpants today? Because on your period, you maybe cannot do both. If you get particularly puffy when you PMS, Dweck suggests cutting out salt a few days before your period, drinking tons of water, and exercising (since salt and water come out when you sweat). Still bloated? Try an OTC diuretic.

15. Buy some lavender oil so you can finally sleep.

For most women, PMS = restless nights where you toss and turn so much that you're a sweaty, pissed off mess tangled up in your sheets by morning. Tons of research shows that lavender essential oil can help you sleep, so put a few drops on your pillow tonight. And if you're feeling really ambitious (and crampy), you can try this aromatherapy tactic from a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: They combined two drops of lavender, one drop of clary sage, and one drop of rose in one teaspoon of almond oil and applied it topically in an abdominal massage. According to the study, this DIY remedy significantly eased their cramps. Good to know if you have a lot of time and random essential oils on hand.

16. Eat more veggies and less fat.

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You want to Seamless a double bacon cheeseburger and onion rings to silence the pain and sadness going on in your uterus right now. Yeah, don't do that. A low-fat, vegetarian diet is actually associated with shorter, less intense bouts of PMS, according to a study in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. The women in the study had less pain, behavioral changes, and water retention when on the healthier diet. Obviously, this doesn't mean everyone with a vagina should swear off meat, but if you're suffering monthly, it might be worth a shot. Here are 28 vegetarian recipes that are even easier than finding a place that will deliver waffles at 7 p.m.

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