Are you there, God? It’s me, Rachel. Look, we need to talk about this whole “menstruation” thing.
Since formally announcing my womanhood at age 12 (by asking my mom for tampons in a whisper) until around two years ago, I considered myself lucky, menstrually speaking. My flow was light and manageable, never exceeding three days, and I never had issues with cramping or bloating. I was a miracle baby, a rare breed, a unicorn.
At 21, I started taking hormonal birth control, then stopped and started again every few months because I’m terrible at pills and life. After finally deciding to stop messing with my body and hormones once and for all, my period took a turn. Suddenly, I was experiencing bloating, unpredictable flows, and the worst cramps I could ever imagine.
According to my doctors I’m perfectly healthy--dealing with cramps and the rest of my cycle is just a fact of life now, and I’ve learned to adjust. Sort of.
Sylvia Plath once said, “There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them.” While a hot bath can’t cure my menstrual cramps (c’mon, modern medicine!), sometimes it's the only thing that soothes me.
Here are some of my tips for beating your monthly bloats and cramps in your bath. First, it’s soundtrack time.
Hot, Hot Water And Dr. Teal's Foaming Vapor Bath
When dealing with intense menstrual cramps, or tight muscles and tension of any kind, a hot, hot, hot bath can help ease and soothe the pain. I like to temper my bath by running cold water for about a minute before turning on the hot water. Pour a bit of Dr. Teal’s Foaming Vapor Bath in the tub to get some bubbles going. The eucalyptus and menthol will help soothe cramps and tension.
Magnesium-Rich Epsom Salt
If you’re a bath fanatic like me, you're well aware of the healing powers of Epsom salt. They're actually a mineral with high levels of magnesium, which helps to release muscle tension, soothe inflammation, and ease aches and pains. You can also mix Epsom salt with oil or soap for an exfoliating body scrub while you soak.
Essential Oils Like Lavender And Peppermint
Like our friend Danielle, I’m a big fan of DIY. I love researching different essential oils (EOs) and experimenting with them. And what better time to play EO mixologist than bath time?
Lavender is well known for its stress-reducing properties, and I like to sprinkle a few drops into my bath to help ease my mind while I ease my tummy.
Peppermint oil is also great for soothing pain. I like to pour a few drops in the tub, or simply massage my stomach with the oil. Because peppermint is such a lively scent, I love to use it if I’m bathing in the morning.
Ginger In Your Tub And In Your Teacup
Ginger is another great bath soak addition for upset tummies. Pour two to three tablespoons of ground ginger into hot water, along with some Epsom salts and a bit of moisturizing oil, like coconut or olive. I rely on ginger baths to fend off colds, but I’ve also found they help immensely with the pain of bloating.
While I normally enjoy a glass of wine (or three), it’s no bueno to drink alcohol or carbonated beverages while menstruating, because they can dehydrate you and make cramping and bloating even worse. Consider a ginger tea, chamomile tea, or hot water with lemon instead.
That’s my whole lineup for battling bloats, cramps, and all that. I’ve been known to spend an hour or longer in the tub, and I’m not above watching a movie while I soak.
Now, I must ask all of you: What do you do to ease your lady pains? Do you have any secrets I need to know about? Do you want to come over and watch Titanic?