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15 Important Things You Should Avoid During Periods

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Periods are part of the natural process followed by the female body. Normally, periods come anywhere between days 21-40 of the menstrual cycle.

During periods inner lining of the uterus and blood moves down the cervix and comes out of the vagina when the egg is not fertilized.

Even though it is a healthy and normal process, some symptoms make it difficult. Bloating, pain, tender breast, nausea, and several other hurdles make it a hard time of the month.

These symptoms can vary from female to female. You might also experience some of these.

Mostly you may fail to keep an eye on certain things that worsen the periods. Eating habits and lifestyle matter a great deal during this time.

Unknowingly you might be doing certain things that increase the problems for you. In this article, we will try to find out some things you need to refrain from during periods.

List Of Things To Avoid During Periods

Controlling the natural process of your menstrual cycle may not be in your hands.

But things like green vegetables, a warm bottle, and staying hydrated might improve things.

Similarly, avoiding certain things can ease your flow and reduce uneasy symptoms. Some of them are:

  1. Excessive Caffeine Intake

    Brewing and sipping some hot coffee is a part of a large population of females. Another similar popular beverage is tea.

    Most people start their morning with coffee, and there are many benefits of coffee, but if you are on your period, it could be better if you try to avoid it. 

    If not completely, at least avoid excessive consumption[1]. More than a cup or two of caffeinated drinks might cause fluctuations in estrogen levels.

    Although much is not known about caffeine’s direct impact on periods, several factors may still affect your body.

    Caffeine has a diuretic effect on the body. This might lead to frequent urination. Hence, your body can get dehydrated. In such cases, bloating and excessive pain can be seen as a result.

  2. Fasting Or Skipping Meals

    Nutrition is crucial to keep the body going while undergoing the natural process. Bloating and nausea are widely experienced during periods.

    Some females consider skipping meals for the same reason. If you do so, you could be making room for lethargicness and worsened symptoms.

    Ladies, running late to work or not feeling like eating are not valid reasons to skip your meals. The study[2] shows that doing so could increase your risk of dysmenorrhea.

    Try to eat light and nutritious meals evenly distributed throughout the day. Avoid fasting during periods.

    On the other hand, if you face issues during your menstrual cycle like oligomenorrhea or hypermenorrhea, it would be better to stay away from fasting, as fasting could complicate things. The same has been confirmed in this[14] paper.

  3. Eating Processed Food

    Food cravings are usually experienced in the course of periods. Serotonin levels and fluctuations in hormones cause these cravings.

    Some of these cravings might be fast food, canned, or even frozen food. You must remember that consuming such foods can irritate, irregular bowel movements, and even constipation.

    It is better[3] to try fresh homemade healthy foods.

  4. Sleeping For Fewer Hours

    The body needs rest during periods. Even though the process is normal, it is exhausting.

    Staying late, stressing yourself, and not giving the body much-needed rest can turn out worse.

    Sleep has a role to play in regulating hormones. Lack of sleep and pushing yourself to extremes causes nothing but worsened symptoms[4] and exhaustion.

  5. Wearing The Same Sanitary Pad/Tampon/Menstrual Cup

    Tampons, pads, and menstrual cups are a female’s period companion. However, not changing your product with time can open an invitation for harmful bacteria to breed.

    These bacteria can lead to a foul smell. But the problem doesn’t end here, you might experience[5] itching, infections, and rashes.

    In the future, there might be chances of developing complications. Therefore it is better to change your pad every 4-6 hours. The time limit for tampons should be 4-8 hours.

    Menstrual cups can go up to 12 hours. Do not forget to pull out your tampons. It might shock, but some ladies forget tampons, which leads to infection.

  6. Smoking

    Smoking is a cause of numerous health problems. There is no lack of evidence to support that smoking is bad for you.

    Considering the case of periods, smoking becomes an even more significant threat. Smoking might interfere with estrogen metabolism, as per this study[6].

    It can constrict the blood vessels and mess up the blood flow. According to some reports, smoking causes severe cramps lasting up to two days.

  7. Consuming Alcohol

    Alcohol sounds like a fun drink. Its use has been largely popularized. But if you believe reports and studies, you will be forced to change your mind.

    Consuming alcohol, especially excessive consumption, paves the way for numerous health hazards. It is believed that alcohol causes the lower abdomen to swell.

    It might increase pain and discomfort. Moreover, it interferes with estrogen levels[7] and normal functioning. You might experience bloating, nausea, and severe cramps.

    It is better to replace it with some healthy and rejuvenating drinks like trying ginger juice, orange juice, or plain water.

  8. Waxing And Shaving

    Hair removal is a routine activity done both for hygiene and beauty standards. But ignoring other essential aspects is not a smart move.

    Shaving or waxing during periods can get messy. The blood flow during periods might make it challenging to finish this task.

    Moreover, the skin is extremely sensitive during this time. Shaving or waxing your pubic hair can cause pain, rashes, or uneasiness. You might get some extra cuts too.

    Not just the pubic region, the entire skin becomes sensitive during this time of the month. It is better to schedule before or after your periods.

    Do not rush for hair removal, it is better to wait for some time.

  9. Unprotected Sex

    Most people opt for unprotected sex during periods. It is a common notion that you can’t get pregnant during this time.

    If you are guilty of doing so, you are unintentionally inviting problems. To begin with, sex during periods might indeed be pleasurable.

    Having an orgasm helps relax muscles. Therefore, it might help with cramps. But it can be causing discomfort to some females. It is up to you to decide.

    Now, this doesn’t mean unprotected sex is fine. You still have chances of getting pregnant[8] during periods. So if you are not ready, use contraceptives.

    Another risk unprotected sex poses[9] are STDs. You cannot miss out on the fact that periods cannot protect you from such diseases.

    If you wish to have to make love during periods, it is advisable to use protection.

  10. Excessive Cleaning Of Your Genitals

    Hygiene is extremely important to eliminate the risk of infections during periods. Some ladies often confuse regular cleaning with excessive one.

    Washing your vagina or vulva excessively can cause rash, irritation, and burns. Severe symptoms can be cuts and even pain.

    Moreover, the vagina cleans itself and maintains healthy pH levels. When you use douche, soaps, or scented products for cleaning, you disturb the healthy pH[10].

    The natural defense mechanism of the vagina is disturbed, making it prone to infections.

  11. Sleeping With Tampons In

    Tampons come in handy during periods. They absorb blood quickly without you even feeling anything inside.

    However, if you sleep with tampons in and your thread goes missing, it can be a real struggle. Moreover, forgetting to change the tampon can even lead to deadly infections.

    Toxic shock syndrome[11] is an example of how severe things can get if bacteria enter the bloodstream. You should rather go for pads at night.

    They are safer and avoid leakage and unnecessary mess. Going to sleep without pads or a menstrual cup is also not recommended.

    If you skip sanitary products at night for some fresh air, you might wake up in an even bigger mess.

  12. Too Much Salt, Spice, And Sugar

    Excessive salt consumption during periods can cause water retention. This in turn may cause bloating and pain.

    Similarly, sugar consumption might cause inflammation. Controlled sugar intake is acceptable, but too much intake can cause even more significant fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

    Spicy foods might be delicious and something you crave, but they are not suitable for periods. Spice irritates the digestive tract and causes increased bloating gas and cramping.

  13. Fried Foods

    Fried foods are a well-known source of trans fat. Both homemade and processed ones are bad for you.

    They will cause more hormonal fluctuations and mood swings in the case of periods. Try to avoid foods like french fries and doughnuts.

  14. Excessive Dairy Consumption

    Dairy products are rich in arachidonic acid. Therefore, products like milk, cheese, and cream might increase the risk of cramping[12].

    You might be more prone to acne, inflammation, and heavy flow if you consume too many dairy products during periods.

  15. Breast Examination

    Hormones are not stable during periods. If you schedule your breast checkup during periods, you might fail to recognize the real problem.

    If you are suspicious of any breast abnormality, avoid[13] check-ups during periods as it can give your false positives.

Conclusion

Periods are an important and inseparable part of a female’s life. Certain myths have been prevalent in society about dos and don’ts during this phase of the menstrual cycle.

Therefore it is better to get a clear picture of what is troublesome during periods.

By the approaching end of the article, you might have come across habits and foods that worsen periods.

It is better to look for a balanced lifestyle with a good diet to make your periods a healthier and easier process.

References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) Reviewed on: 05-12-2019 Avaialble from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/premenstrual-syndrome-pms
  2. Tomoko Fujiwara, Masanori Ono, Takashi Iizuka, et al. Breakfast Skipping in Female College Students Is a Potential and Preventable Predictor of Gynecologic Disorders at Health Service Centers Diagnostics (Basel). 2020 Jul; 10(7): 476.Published online 2020 Jul 13. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics10070476
  3. Nastaran Najafi, Hamidreza Khalkhali, Fatemeh Moghaddam Tabrizi, et al. Major dietary patterns in relation to menstrual pain: a nested case control study BMC Womens Health. 2018; 18: 69.Published online 2018 May 21. doi: 10.1186/s12905-018-0558-4
  4. Sara Nowakowski, Jessica Meers, and Erin Heimbach Sleep and Women’s Health Sleep Med Res. 2013; 4(1): 1–22.doi: 10.17241/smr.2013.4.1.1
  5. Nazirah G Mohamed, Nurdiana Z Abidin, Kim S Law, et al. The effect of wearing sanitary napkins of different thicknesses on physiological and psychological responses in Muslim females J Physiol Anthropol. 2014; 33(1): 28.Published online 2014 Sep 4. doi: 10.1186/1880-6805-33-28
  6. Alfred O Mueck, Harald Seeger Smoking, estradiol metabolism and hormone replacement therapy Curr Med Chem Cardiovasc Hematol Agents. 2005 Jan;3(1):45-54. doi: 10.2174/1568016052773270. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15638743/
  7. Nadia Rachdaoui and Dipak K. Sarkar Effects of Alcohol on the Endocrine System Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2013 Sep; 42(3): 593–615.doi: 10.1016/j.ecl.2013.05.008
  8. Prashant Verma, Kaushalendra Kumar Singh, and Anjali Singh Pregnancy risk during menstrual cycle: misconceptions among urban men in India Reprod Health. 2017; 14: 71. Published online 2017 Jun 12. doi: 10.1186/s12978-017-0332-3
  9. K Tanfer, S O Aral Sexual intercourse during menstruation and self-reported sexually transmitted disease history among women Sex Transm Dis. 1996 Sep-Oct;23(5):395-401. doi: 10.1097/00007435-199609000-00009. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8885071/
  10. Yen-Pin Lin, Wei-Chun Chen, Chao-Min Cheng, et al. Vaginal pH Value for Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment of Common Vaginitis Diagnostics (Basel). 2021 Nov; 11(11): 1996.Published online 2021 Oct 27. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics11111996
  11. Adam Ross; Hugh W. Shoff. Toxic Shock Syndrome Last Update: November 17, 2021. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459345/
  12. Zofia Barcikowska, Elżbieta Rajkowska-Labon, Magdalena Emilia Grzybowska, et al. Inflammatory Markers in Dysmenorrhea and Therapeutic Options Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Feb; 17(4): 1191.Published online 2020 Feb 13. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17041191
  13. Siwa Chan, Min-Ying L. Su, Fu-Ju Lei, et al. Menstrual Cycle–related Fluctuations in Breast Density Measured by Using Three-dimensional MR Imaging Radiology. 2011 Dec; 261(3): 744–751.Published online 2011 Dec. doi: 10.1148/radiol.11110506

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