Get Rid of Cramps with Heat!

Sometimes the best course of action when cramps are ruining your life is to place something warm on your belly and let heat work its magic.   Here is a product roundup of hot water bottles and heating pads to get rid of cramps.

SpaComforts Cozy Comfort Hot Water Bottle, Spa Girl Pink

$9.99, Walgreens.com

SpaComforts Cozy Comfort Hot Water Bottle

 

This old-fashioned hot water bottle has a stylish, plush cover with a little girlfriend reminder to “relax.”  Fill it up with hot water and place it on your belly for hours of heat therapy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Size Heart Warmer Pillow Red

$11.01 on sale, Bucky.com

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It is a little heart shaped hug and at 5”x 5” in size, it is discrete enough to use the office kitchen microwave and place on your lap at work.  Whole buckwheat seed is used in spas since it provides a gentle, moist heat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CVS Heatwraps Menstrual Cramp Relief

$5.99 for 3 patches, CVS.com

cvs heat wraps

They are not sexy, but a patch provides 8 hours of heat exactly where you need it and no one will ever be the wiser!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunbeam Moist/Dry Heating Pad

$12.99, Drugstore.com

heating pad

The electric heating pad is great for those days on the couch in sweatpants when long-lasting, steady heat is the only remedy for those cramps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heat is an all natural way to deal with the pain of PMS cramps and the good news is that there are many affordable options for relief.

 

The Right Bra for Sore Breasts

braDuring those PMS days of the month, breasts may become sore, swollen and tender and a bra that fits correctly goes a long way to keeping “the girls” comfortable. Have you had a proper fitting for a bra? If you answered “no,” you are like most women who guess their bra size by trial and error. However, most women pick out the wrong size and that can have consequences!

Department stores and lingerie stores have employees who are trained to measure and fit a bra properly. Everything about getting fitted, buying one bra at that store and paying a higher price for the right size, is worth it. Most of the support from a bra comes from the band and the right cup size will prevent squishing, spillage and extra movement.

Here are a couple of key tips for wearing the most comfortable bra every day, but especially on PMS days.

The Band – The band should rest on the top of your rib cage. This is especially important if you are wearing an underwire bra. If the wire or band is digging into breast tissue, this can be very painful on PMS days.

The Cup – Breasts not only move up and down, but also side to side during normal everyday activity. A cup that is too big allows a larger range of motion, which can be painful during PMS. A too small cup will squish breast tissue, which is also uncomfortable when breasts are swollen and tender.

The Support- Breasts don’t have a lot of built in support, "Cooper’s Ligaments" hold your breasts up. This tissue is responsible for the “shape and lift” of your breasts, so excessive bouncing can damage the tissue.

We have written extensively about how exercise is good for combating PMS, like here and here, but if your boobs hurt that could really make exercise unappealing. So sports bras need to fit well too! A good sports bra will restrict bouncing which is important on PMS days. A good rule of thumb is to replace a sports bra when you replace your sneakers since the elastic wears out with frequent wear and washing!

If your breasts are sensitive to the touch during PMS, pick a bra with a soft lining versus a lace bra. Even a layer of padding will be helpful if your breasts are really sensitive.

One last note, the band and the shoulder straps should not leave visible marks on your body when you remove your bra. Use this as a quick check to see if you are wearing the correct bra size. If the straps dig into your shoulders and you have an imprint of the band around your chest, then do yourself a huge favor and get properly fitted for a bra as soon as possible!

Is it PMS or Perimenopause?

 

WIt could still be PMS when you are in your 40’s, but the symptoms of perimenopause are strikingly familiar to PMS.    Hormone fluctuations are at the root of both PMS and perimenopause. There are a whole host of physical and emotional symptoms associated with perimenopause and like PMS, not every woman has the same experience or symptoms.   As with PMS, there are natural ways to deal with symptoms through diet, exercise, healthy lifestyle and getting enough sleep.  Is perimenopause just PMS when a woman is in her 40’s?

Perimenopause is state of transition in a woman’s reproductive cycle that typically starts somewhere in the 40’s.  Hormone fluctuations are different during this phase.   Ovaries produce less estrogen but follicle stimulating hormone rises so…get ready for this…menstrual cycles shorten.   What was once a 28 day cycle might become a 25 day cycle.  Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulates egg growth and development, but when ovulation becomes erratic and cycles shorten, your “flow” can go from normal to very heavy.

Perimenopause, as a coined term, is relatively new.  The four to five year time frame before menopause was only labeled peri or pre menopause roughly 20 years ago.  Most women realize things are changing because approximately 40% of women in their 40’s report symptoms, like mood swings, irregular cycles, heavy flow or hot flashes, but it is difficult to define how long you have been perimenopausal or exactly when menstruation will cease.

As with PMS, there are ways to treat and handle the unpleasant symptoms of hormonal fluctuations in our cycles.  They will sound familiar to you!

Exercise regularly-Abdominal fat starts to appear but regular exercise can melt fat, improve your mood and reduce your flow.  Mixing it up with strength training, cardio and yoga covers you for decreasing muscle loss, melting fat and providing a little “zen.”

Avoid Hot Flash triggers-Pay attention to your body!  If you drink wine or coffee, does that trigger a hot flash?  How about spicy foods or overly warm environments?  Try to avoid what ails you!  And if your hot flash is interrupting your sleep in the form of night sweats, invest in some pajamas that wick moisture away from your body.

Sleep-If an eye mask and ear plugs help, use them.  Try chamomile tea, practice deep breathing and relaxation techniques.  Poor sleep quality does not help your mood or your food choices during the day.  Keep experimenting with pillows until you find one that keeps your head supported, maybe have another pillow handy so there are three cool sides to the pillow at all hours of the night!

It is common to experience a little sadness when menstruation finally ceases, but then not having a period becomes extremely liberating!

Monthly Cycle + Low Self Esteem

148027218The monthly clash of hormones can lower your self esteem in an instant.  As hormonal acne sends a blossom of zits across your T-zone and PMS bloating has the zipper of your jeans digging into your stomach, it is easy to feel horrible about the way you look!   The bloating and acne is never as exaggerated or as apparent to other people, but those PMS days can serve as a blow to your ego.

Wellness encompasses all aspects of our lives, like sleep, nutrition, friends, family and fitness.  What happens to us when we have negative feelings due to added water weight or acne?  I’ll insert another “ask” here for you to help us with our research by taking our survey on how PMS affects us at work because we wonder if low self esteem also plays a role in a woman’s reluctance to negotiate for a higher salary or not taking credit for her work.

Plus, as stated in this Huffington Post article, women are prone to dwell on the negative and ruminate, even on stupid things like thinking that everyone is talking about the pimple on your chin or that your skirt is a little snug.  And when you are busy mulling all of your perceived shortcomings, coupled with looking at people’s perfectly curated lives on social media…well, the self loathing can get worse!

Here are a few quick self esteem activities to boost your confidence:

Get outside.  Take a walk and be mindful of the sun on your face, the budding trees and the daffodils sprouting after a long winter.  Natural settings improve mood.

Avoid emotional eating.  This is the time when sticking to a healthy diet is truly difficult because you might want to stuff your face with donuts or ice cream or potato chips for that quick fix, but that junk food won’t help in the long run.

Take a nap.  Can you put your head down on your desk for 20 minutes?  Sometimes just a little rest will make you feel like yourself again.

Sweat. Take it all out on the elliptical or on the treadmill.  Feel good endorphin's will help you bust through your personal pity party.

Take a screen break.  Seriously.  For the next few weeks we will be writing about some analog pursuits!  Our #GirlUBeWell campaign will explore ways to spend an hour or two offline.  We are hoping this will spark your creativity and give you even more ideas for some positive self esteem activities!

Check back soon or look for #GirlUBeWell on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

A Healthy Diet & PMS

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We spend a lot of time on the GirlU Blog talking about the importance of a healthy diet to help mitigate symptoms of PMS because, let’s face it, you are what you eat and what you eat matters.

Here is how a balanced diet can help with an assist from Epicurious.com and some easy recipes for one dinner!  The delicious GirlU dinner menu is Jamaican Jerk Salmon with Mango, Pineapple Salsa with sides of Sautéed Spinach and Brown Rice.

Will this dinner “cure” you of your PMS symptoms? Probably not.  One salmon dinner can’t stop the hormonal fluctuations going on inside you!  But, will a steady habit of good food choices help you maintain better balance of important vitamins, minerals and nutrients and ease hormonal fluctuations? Probably!

Look at the major ingredients from these recipes as examples of why good food choices matter.

  • Salmon                Omega-3 Fatty Acids to help ease bloating
  • Mango                  Vitamin A for clear, glowing skin
  • Pineapple            Bromelain is muscle relaxing and Manganese reduces irritability, decreases menstrual flow
  • Black Beans        Fiber alleviates water retention
  • Spinach                Iron helps keep blood sugar in check, which keeps emotions in check and Magnesium reduces stress, lifts mood, helps regulate serotonin, fights bloating
  • Brown Rice          Vitamin B6 helps alleviate mood swings and fatigue

Each of these foods has many other important vitamins and minerals in them that do other important things to support health in other parts of your body.

Add a tall glass of cucumber-infused water and you will have added quercetin, which helps fight bloating, and treat yourself to a glass of red wine and some dark chocolate squares for dessert  and you will have added antioxidants.

Cheers to making good food choices!

How to Beat PMS Acne

period_acnePMS acne doesn't affect everyone who has a period, since we all react to hormonal shifts in our bodies differently, but it’s actually pretty common:  a study from the Archives of Dermatology found that 63% of acne-prone women experience premenstrual acne flare ups, usually about seven to ten days before their period.

It’s those lovely up-and-down hormones that can wreck havoc with our skin.  Rising levels of progesterone mid-cycle can cause a build up of sebum, a thick, oily substance that acts as a natural skin lubricant.  For some, this means a healthy-looking glow; for others, though, it means increased breakouts.

It’s important to note that these breakouts aren’t due to your hygiene regimen; it’s far more related to hormones, which, unfortunately, you can’t do a whole lot about.  But don’t worry—there are things you can do to keep your skin healthy and happy, minimizing the effect of a PMS acne breakout!  Here are some tips:

  • Avoid touching your face—your hands can help spread dirt and bacteria, exactly what you don’t want during a breakout!
  • Clean your cell phone regularly. Phones can store up a lot of bacteria, and if you’re not keeping your phone clean, you’re introducing that bacteria to the most vulnerable parts of your face—your jaw line and chin.
  • If you’re working out at the gym, put a towel down on the mats to protect yourself from other people’s germs.
  • Don’t smoke—smoking contributes to all forms of acne.
  • Stay hydrated! Drinking lots of water can help flush toxins out of your body, which is great news for your skin.
  • Wash your face twice a day. Make sure to avoid products that include oil.  You may even want to step it up a notch and try a facial mask for added self-care and relaxation.
  • Consider herbal supplements, including zinc, vitamin B6, and chaste tree berry. Chaste tree berry, incidentally, is one of the herbs in the GirlU supplement, so be sure to check that out!

PMS acne can be one of the more frustrating PMS symptoms, but there are plenty of natural options for beating it!

What to Do About Nausea Before Your Period

period_nausea

A lot of us have to deal with uncomfortable PMS symptoms every month, and few are as debilitating as nausea before your period.

Like many other symptoms, PMS nausea is likely caused by fluctuations in hormone levels, in particular, estrogen.  Changes in the amounts of progesterone and hormone-like substances called prostaglandins don’t help, either.  These hormones all ensure that your body does what it needs to do in terms of preparing for childbirth, and luckily, symptoms like nausea usually go away once you actually start your period.  But what can you do until then?

First, you should make sure the nausea isn’t caused by something other than your period.  For example, nausea is a typical symptom during pregnancy, particularly right around when your period usually happens.  Another possible culprit, endometriosis, happens when the cells that make up the uterus lining start growing outside of the uterus, which can cause nausea, bloating, diarrhea, rectal pain, and cramps.  So you definitely want to check with your doctor to make sure your symptoms aren’t related to either of these conditions first.

If they’re not, you’re likely just experiencing another fun PMS symptom that could use a little attention and possibly an herbal remedy.  Here are some tips to rid yourself of that nausea right away so you can get back to living life uninterrupted.

Eat consistent, well-balanced meals.  Nausea before your period can be caused by low blood sugar, which affects the chemical levels in your body.  If you make sure you’re eating well and at regular intervals, you can stave off the worst of it.

Keep track of when the nausea occurs.  Use a period tracker like this one to record when the symptoms hit.  This is the best way to determine if it’s related to your period or something else entirely, which might require a different approach.

Go herbal.  Tried-and-true remedies like ginger, mint tea, cayenne, and raspberry leaf are good choices for combatting nausea.  Ginger in particular has had the most clinical study done on its effectiveness, and it’s been ranked the most effective herb for menstrual nausea and vomiting.

Try antacids.  Sometimes PMS nausea isn’t so different from nausea that’s not related to your cycle.  It’s possible that excess acid in the stomach during the menstrual cycle is causing your distress, so popping a Tums could really help.

Turn to GirlU!  The GirlU herbal supplement is an all-natural way to fight PMS symptoms and have you feeling better fast.  Particularly if nausea isn’t your only symptom, GirlU is the way to go.

Don’t let nausea before your period put a damper on your day!  Try the options above and feel better fast!

Period Mood Swings and You

Angry woman surrounding by chalk designs

What causes period mood swings, and what can you do about them?
Image: Shutterstock

We all get a little moody sometimes, but period mood swings are definitely one of the major reasons why PMS gets such a bad rap. Crying spells, angry outbursts, anxiety attacks—how do you make them stop? And how do you know if it’s PMS…or something else?

“You’ll know these emotional ups and downs are due to PMS if they start consistently a week to two weeks before your period and stop a day or two after menstruation starts,” says gynecologist Carol Livoti, MD. These mood swings generally happen during the last (luteal) phase of the menstrual cycle, usually days 14-28. And they’ll probably stop as soon as menstruation starts. (If they don’t, you may be suffering from depression or a different problem that you should talk to your doctor about right away!)

Scientists suspect period mood swings happen because of the shift in hormones, in particular the rise and fall of estrogen levels. Add a dash of life stress to that—divorce, job loss, or a tough presentation at school—and the mood swings can be even worse.

So what can you do to minimize the pain and suffering caused by period mood swings? Try a few of these options:

 

Exercise. No surprise here! Physical activity is great for your body, and it’s been shown to help with bad moods, too, thanks to the feel-good chemicals released from your brain when you get moving.

Eat small, frequent meals. Eating six small meals a day instead of the usual, bigger three can keep your blood sugar level and help with hormonal mood shifts. Work on keeping your carbohydrate intake down, too.

Try calcium supplements. One study showed that supplementing your diet with 500 milligrams of calcium twice a day can lead to significantly less depression and fatigue during your menstrual cycle. Be sure to check with your doctor before trying new supplements!

Manage the stress. While stress doesn’t cause mood swings, it can certainly contribute to them! Take time out to try some relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga. You may also benefit from doing some group therapy—or just having a quiet chat with a supportive friend.

Remember the good things! Shifting hormones can actually make some things easier for you. One study suggested that when you have less progesterone in your system (generally around day five or six of your cycle), you’re able to be more thoughtful and empathetic. And when estrogen spikes between days five and thirteen, you’re likely to feel more confident, feminine, and attractive. Embrace it!

 

Period mood swings don’t have to be debilitating PMS side effects. Be kind to yourself, make a few simple lifestyle changes, and you’ll feel better in no time!

The Best GirlU Blogs of 2014

Girl Uninterrupted logo

Here's a look back at our best blog posts of 2014!

On the last day of 2014, we thought we’d take a look back at some of our most popular blog posts here at GirlU. If you’re looking for smart ways to deal with PMS symptoms, we’ve got you covered!

#5: 5 Tips for Dealing with Menstrual Cramps—Naturally!  Cramps are a pain—and then some! We reviewed some ways to deal with them that don’t necessarily involve popping pills. Simple lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress and making healthier food choices, can really make a difference!

#4: What to Do About Sore Breasts During Your Period  As with cramps, we pointed out quite a few natural solutions for dealing with sore breasts. The trick is to take a look at what habits are likely causing them and form a plan of action. In addition to the usual culprits, such as diet and exercise, breast soreness can be conquered with relaxation techniques and a properly fitted, supportive bra.

#3: Your PMS Survival Kit  We had so much fun throwing our Pampering Gift Basket Giveaway! In addition, we took a look at what might go into a PMS survival kit to keep you feeling good when your period’s got you down. Thanks to everyone who chimed in with their thoughts!

#2: Period Mythbusters  There are a lot of myths about periods and PMS out there, whether it’s rumors from your friends or things you read online. We focused on some of the biggest misconceptions about periods, including cycle length, whether or not to swim, and getting pregnant.

And the #1 most popular GirlU blog post for 2014:  What to Wear on Your Period Feeling crummy during that time of month shouldn’t mean you have to feel less than stylish! We put together some great options for work-appropriate wear that’s high on comfort as well as fashion.

We’ve enjoyed sharing our blog with you this year! Stay tuned in 2015 for more awesome tips and tricks for living uninterrupted!

The GirlU Formula

Red clover plant

Red clover is one of the active herbal ingredients in GirlU that helps get you feeling better fast!
Image: Shutterstock

Since GirlU is an all-natural supplement, its active ingredients are all herbs. Specially selected to fight the toughest PMS symptoms, the herbs in GirlU do a variety of awesome things to get you feeling better and back to your day fast. These herbs have a long history of alleviating symptoms, but this is the first time they’ve been put together into one simple, easy-to-swallow pill that acts in as little as 15 minutes. Best of all, you can personalize your dose so you’re getting just as much as you need based on your body and its natural cycles.

Let’s take a look at the herbs in GirlU and how they work for you to curb cravings, minimize bloating, relieve irritability, and improve focus.

  • Griffonia Seed, which comes from the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia, contributes the chemical 5-HTP, known to help raise serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin helps regulate mood and behavior, and 5-HTP has been shown to have a positive effect on sleep, mood, anxiety, and appetite. Because this form of 5-HTP is coming from a plant base, there’s less chance of contamination.
  • Green tea is more than just a soothing hot drink. For years, its health benefits have been studied and appreciated, particularly when it comes to mental alertness. Green tea has 2%-4% caffeine, which helps with brain function. Researchers think the power of green tea lies in its polyphenols—chemicals with potent antioxidant properties. It’s also been used historically to treat stomach upsets, vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches.
  • Chaste tree berry helps with headaches, irritability, and especially breast tenderness. The herb acts on the pituitary gland to increase progesterone production, which helps regulate your menstrual cycle.
  • Red clover contains a variety of nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. It also has isoflavones, which are similar to the estrogen your body normally produces. When your estrogen levels aren’t balanced, you can experience more PMS symptoms, so red clover helps your body function as if it has the proper amount of estrogen.
  • Saw palmetto has a variety of active ingredients including fatty acids, plant sterols, and flavonoids. It contains sugars that can help reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system, and it also functions as a mild diuretic.

When you take GirlU, you’re getting all these herbs to act together to provide you with fast, natural relief. Ready to give it a try? Check out GirlU today!