Menstruation, more commonly called a period, is often an inescapable part of life when you're a woman. Each of experiences this time of the month differently, and for the sportswomen among us, the barriers can be both physical and/or mental. Let's see how we can adjust our mindsets and bodies so we can rise above this monthly challenge that we sometimes dread.
When your periods are really painful and your menstrual cramps make you feel like curling up under the duvet in the foetal position, there are several possible solutions:
suffer in silence. Limited effectiveness.
self medicate. Also limited effectiveness. And not immediate.
relieve your pain with our (new?) best friend: the hot water bottle.I've found another solution for when you're exercising: warmer packs and, better still, foot warmers. Instead of sticking them in your shoe, you can stick them on your clothing or your skin: and hey presto - job done!
relieve pain using electrical stimulation. There are special machines for pelvic pain but if you have a traditional electrical stimulator, the TENS programme will be your best friend! - exercising: focus on the task in hand and you will forget (or nearly) about the initial pain. Exercising to re-oxygenate the body and get your blood circulating is a part of this.
The First Hurdle When you have your Period: Mental
Just before your period, there is a surge of hormones released throughout your body that can affect your mood. And what with the slight weight gain, breast swelling and possible insomnia (the list of secondary effects is endless), your mental resilience can take a knock. The first step to success is to ignore this acute inertia and slip into your sports kit!
The Final Hurdle when you have your Period: The Accident
A common fear: a large and obvious blood stain. The protection that we use is a very personal choice, but advice is always welcome. First of all, remember to wear dark colours on your lower half. A basic but effective solution.
Also, remember to take individual wet wipes, or even baby wipes will do.
You mustn't neglect your intimate hygiene, during your period or at any other time of the month; the acidity of perspiration in this area can be harmful!
If you use sanitary towels, remember to choose your absorbency according to the length of your workout. If you can, pack a spare in your bag.
If you wear technical clothing like tight cycling shorts, that DO NOT require underwear, don't wear pants, for attaching your sanitary towel, as well: apart from creating micro-cuts where your underwear rubs, they serve absolutely no purpose!
Stick your protection directly onto the chamois pad and, in the event of a leak, remember to soak your shorts in cold water and then wash using laundry disinfectant.
Those of you who use tampons are not immune to leaks either so remember to use a panty liner as well.
And if you can, take a spare tampon with you; you may need it! So, dear friends, you can do without a panty liner but remember to wash your tight shorts with laundry disinfectant as outlined above.
Come on Girls!
Period, Aunt Flo, Time of the month, On the rag etc Call it what you will, but don't forget: there are often solutions to help relieve the pain! Obviously, if your pain seems abnormal, you need to get it medically checked; sport can't solve everything.
I have given you some pointers on how to carry on exercising during your period. What tips do you have?