Menstrual Cycle Essentials

As someone with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), I have a special relationship with my period. That is, I celebrate when it arrives because it means my PMDD symptoms will ease up soon.

But not everyone has this kind of relationship with their period, and I know a lot of people have a much more difficult time with their menstruation than I do. So I’ve gathered a list of all the things I use to make my period — and the time leading up to it — as easeful as humanly possible.

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Taking Charge of Your Fertility

Everyone should read Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, MPH. It’s everything I wanted to know about my body that nobody taught me.

This book changed my life and started me on the path of body awareness that has improved my life many times over.

If you’re trying to get pregnant, trying to avoid pregnancy without synthetic hormones, or just want to know more about what your body is doing during different times in your cycle and your life, read this book.

A reliable period tracking app

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Photo of Kindara App by Prima-Temp

I’m all about body awareness, and I’m a data nerd, so I track my period and so much more.

My favorite menstrual cycle tracking app is called Kindara. You can fully customize your tracking experience, so you can track as much or as little as you want.

If you want to just track your period, no problem. If you want to use a fertility awareness-based method or track all the things (like me), you can do that too. Kindara helps me stay organized so I can accurately predict my period.

Something for the menstruation

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Photo of models in period underwear by Period Aisle

I think I’ve tried every reusable option for managing menstrual bleeding: cups, discs, underwear, organic cotton pads, cloth pads. Well actually, I guess not everything since I don’t like tampons and haven’t tried free bleeding.

I really liked the Intimina Ziggy Cup, and I use it for swimming or mess-free period sex. But for the most part, I prefer to use cloth menstrual pads and period underwear for convenience and if I’m going to be out and about.

Get $10 off your first purchase at Period Aisle.

If you’re not interested in the reusable stuff, my favorite disposable pads and liners are 100% cotton by LOLA. They also make great lube and condoms. Get $5 off your first purchase at LOLA.

Heating pad

Heat is a natural, effective way to relieve period cramps, according to this study, and it also just feels good. I like this Sunbeam Heating Pad when I’m cramping. I originally bought it for my neck and shoulders since that’s where I tend to keep my stress, but it’s also great to hold against my belly for menstrual cramps.

It doesn’t cool off like my microwavable rice pad, so it’s nice for when I want longer heating sessions. Definitely don’t sleep with it though! I fell asleep with it once and woke up the next day completely overheated and with an elevated temperature.

Bath-time luxury items

Sometimes a shower or bath is just what the doctor ordered to make me feel a little better during my period or luteal phase.

Skincare

Photo by Chagrin Valley

Sometimes I get acne, extra greasy, or other skin weirdness when my hormones are shifting throughout my cycle. That’s when I like to give my face a little extra love in the form of a clay mask. I recommend Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve. I’ve been using their skincare products exclusively for nearly 7 years and my skin has never been happier.

Get $5 off your purchase at Chagrin Valley.

Hair care

Photo by Viori

I recently discovered Viori’s shampoo and condition, and it is amazing. I’ve been using natural bar shampoo for almost 7 years, but this is the best I’ve ever tried. The unscented version does have a light fragrance, but I find it soothing at best and unoffensive at worst.

Sometimes a nice warm shower with fancy shampoo is all the self-care I need to perk up my mood or feel better from a headache.

Get 10% off your first purchase at Viori.

In closing

Everybody relaxes and takes care of themselves in different ways. Sometimes when we are on or approaching our periods, the last thing we want to do is pamper ourselves; I know I don’t always have the bandwidth to take care of myself even though I know it’ll make me feel at least a little bit better. Sometimes it’s a yoga will make me feel better. Sometimes staying on the couch and watching TV is all I need.

A lot of times, what I need is to let go of the pressure on myself to be productive all the time. I do what I can to take care of myself, whatever that means in the moment, but I’ve found the best medicine is offering myself grace and kindness.

Photo by Monstera