Did you know a woman could have about 450 periods on an average in her lifetime? But, while most of us probably know everything about our own cycle, there are a few things several women tend to overlook. You can start by avoiding these nine common mistakes.
1. Ignoring The Blood Color
Like other areas of your health, paying attention is important. Don’t ignore the color of your blood during your period. Usually, it starts out with brown spotting and turns into a bright red shade. By the end, it’s typically dark brown – almost black.1 But if it is anything but red or brown, talk to your doctor.
2. Not Tracking Your Cycle
Most women think that charting your cycle is only for planning a pregnancy. This just isn’t true, though! Underlying conditions can make your period irregular. But in order to notice it, you need to know what’s normal for you. By tracking your monthly cycle, it’ll be easier to know when something is off.2
3. Forgetting To Change Pads Or Tampons
Regularly changing your pads and tampons is key for proper hygiene. So how long should you use them? Pads should be changed once they are soaked with blood – usually every six hours or so.3 You’ll probably need to do this more often at the start of your period.
As for tampons, don’t leave them in for more for than 4 to 8 hours. Otherwise, a life-threatening condition called toxic shock syndrome (TSS) can develop. It’s caused by bacterial infections that can crop up from leaving a tampon in for too long. To avoid this, use low-absorbency tampons and change them frequently.4 Avoid sleeping with them, too.
4. Skipping Meals
Many women experience bloating, constipation, and diarrhea before and during their period. It can also be paired with painful abdominal muscles.5 Unsurprisingly, food can be unappealing. Not eating is a bad idea, though. This can just make you feel more weak and nauseous. Instead of skipping meals, eat foods that help your symptoms. Light, nutritious meals, and tea are great options.
5. Drinking Alcohol
While a glass of red might be tempting, it can do more harm than good. Alcohol may worsen your cramps, something you definitely don’t want. Avoiding tobacco during your period is also a good idea.6 Instead, fuel up on water and tea.
Even if you feel a bit gross, you shouldn’t douche. The vagina doesn’t need feminine hygiene washes. It has its own way of cleaning itself, after all. Your period is doing the work for you! Even if you aren’t on your period, avoid douching at all times. It can increase your risk for vaginal infections and STIs.7
7. Having Unprotected Sex
While having sex during your period is considered healthy, the risk of catching an STD is higher. So if you don’t know your partner’s history, unprotected sex should be avoided. Keep in mind that having sex during your period might also increase your risk for bacterial or yeast infections.8
8. Taking Too Many Painkillers
While over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can relieve cramps, too much can be dangerous. These medications can cause kidney and liver damage if taken in high doses. They can also irritate the stomach and intestines.9 So it’s important to read the label and use as directed. You can also ease cramps naturally with hot compresses, peppermint oil, and yoga.
9. Not Moving
During your period, it’s easy to crawl into bed and sleep the day away. And while adequate rest is important, you also need to move around. This will actually help your cramps and reduce the aches and pain.10 Even a brisk walk around the block can help.
The next time your period starts, practice these healthy habits. Try making a checklist to help yourself remember them. It’s the best thing you can do for your feminine health.
|↑1||[Is Period Blood Always Red?]( http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/blood-color.html “Is Period Blood Always Red?”),TeensHealth|
|↑2||[Menstrual cycle: What’s normal, what’s not] http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/menstrual-cycle/art-20047186 “Menstrual cycle: What’s normal, what’s not”),Mayo Clinic|
|↑3||[Pads and other ways to take care of your period](https://www.girlshealth.gov/body/period/pads.html “Pads and other ways to take care of your period”),GirlsHealth|
|↑4||[Toxic Shock Syndrome](http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/toxic-shock-syndrome/basics/prevention/con-20021326 “Toxic Shock Syndrome”),Mayo Clinic|
|↑5||[Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)](http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/basics/symptoms/con-20020003 “Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)”),Mayo Clinic|
|↑6||[Menstrual cramps]( http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menstrual-cramps/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/CON-20025447 “Menstrual cramps”),Mayo Clinic|
|↑7||[Douching fact sheet]( https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/douching.html “Douching fact sheet”),Office on Women’s Heatlh|
|↑8||[Sex on Your Period]( http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo/article/sex-your-period “Sex on Your Period”),SexInfo Online|
|↑9||[Ibuprofen (By Mouth)]( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0010648/?report=details “Ibuprofen (By Mouth),U.S. National Library of Medicine|
|↑10||[Menstrual Pain](http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/menstrual-pain “Menstrual pain”),University of Maryland Medical Center|