Real Life

How to make periods less of a pain

Our 10 expert tips to make your visit from Aunt Flo more bearable.

Almost all women experience their period at some point in their lives and even at the best of times, it can be an uncomfortable experience.

Another pain is the tax that women are expected to pay on necessary sanitary items.

Most women use pads or tampons every month for around 40 years, so the GST on these items is essentially a tax on being a woman – something that Take 5 believes is nothing less than discrimination.

We've compiled some top 10 expert tips to help make periods less of a pain, and some info on our petition to remove the GST on sanitary items.

1. Heat things up

If you don't just want to reach for the medicine cabinet, get yourself a hot water bottle and lay it across your tummy.

A study found that applying a heat pack of 40 degrees celcius could be just as effective at reducing period pain as taking pain relief.

Soaking in a hot bath will have the same effect.

Put on relaxing music, light some candles and feel the pain dissolve away.

2. Get active

When you're feeling heavy and hormonal, the last thing you feel like doing is getting your sweat on.

But studies show low to moderate intensity exercise like a brisk walk, yoga or swimming helps to stretch your ab muscles and increase blood flow to relieve cramps.

Plus, exercise produces endorphins, which help you feel more relaxed.

Getting some exercise can help relieve menstrual cramps.
Getting some exercise can help relieve menstrual cramps.

3. Have a brew

A hot cup of tea isn't just for warming you up on cold days.

Studies show that herbal teas can also be used to help alleviate menstrual symptoms.

Ginger tea is soothing, white yam infusions can ease abdominal muscle spasms, and chamomile has calming effects and is great for relaxing the nervous system.

So pop the kettle on and make yourself a cuppa.

Put the kettle on!
Put the kettle on!

4. Stay protected

To be comfortable during your period you need to choose the protection that works for you.

If you like pads, thinner ones with wings offer less bulk and extra leakage protection, while tampons help nix damp feelings, and can be paired with a liner.

For a more eco-friendly option, reusable menstrual cups and absorbent, washable period underpants are also becoming popular.

5. Keep track

No one likes being surprised by their period's arrival.

You can download a free period tracking app such as Flo or Clue to help you keep track of your cycle and predict when you're due.

Even better, over time, these predictions can become more accurate, even if you have irregular periods.

You can also log any symptoms you have to understand how your body behaves at different times of the month.

6. Eat chocolate

Yep, we're serious!

Chocolate with more than 70 per cent cocoa boosts your mood by releasing endorphins, which are also a natural painkiller.

Plus, the magnesium in cocoa is a natural muscle relaxant and can help alleviate painful cramps.

Choose a chocolate with a high cocoa content.
Choose a chocolate with a high cocoa content.

7. Stay hydrated

If you suffer from painful bloating during your period, you're not alone.

Bloating is caused by water retention but the best way to reduce it is to actually drink more water.

Dehydration can also make period cramps worse, and doctors recommend sipping on warm water, as it increases blood flow to your muscles which can help them to relax.

Keep your fluids up during your period with water, herbal teas and low-sugar juices.

8. Ban the booze

Alcohol is a depressant and drinking alcohol – especially during the second half of your cycle (from 14 days before you're due) – can have a negative impact on your mood.

The effects (and potential enjoyment) of drinking alcohol will be greater but if you suffer from anxiety or depression it can also make these symptoms even worse.

9. Take iron

Heavy bleeding on your period can lead to iron deficiency, making you feel weak and tired.

To reduce this risk, make sure your diet is full of iron-rich foods such as red meat, leafy greens, lentils, apricots, beans and seafood.

Just make sure you're also getting some vitamin C from citrus fruits, broccoli and strawberries to help your body absorb the iron.

Leafy greens are a great source of iron.
Leafy greens are a great source of iron.

10. Hit the hay

Many women experience some sort of sleep disturbance leading up to or during their period.

From cramps to hormonal changes, there are many factors that can cause this.

Try keeping a sleep diary for a few months and note how your quality of sleep changes leading up to your period.

You can also log any issues in your nifty period tracking app.

In the days before you're due, aim to get into bed an hour earlier each night to give yourself enough time to wind down and drift off.

What is the tampon tax?

Before the introduction of the GST in 2000, sanitary items weren't taxed.

Since then, all tampons and pads have been hit with a 10 per cent goods and services tax – a sum that costs the average woman $1000 during her life.

Collectively, Australian women are paying $30 million dollars every year to the government for the privilege of having their periods.

Why is it so unfair?

Almost every woman will get her period at some point in her life.

Most women use pads or tampons every month for around 40 years, so the GST on these items is essentially a tax on being a woman – something that Take 5 believes is nothing less than discrimination.

The tax is unfair because there are no comparable items. Condoms, nicotine patches and even Viagra are exempt from GST, so why are menstrual products still taxed?

All tampons and pads have been hit with a 10 per cent goods and services tax.
All tampons and pads have been hit with a 10 per cent goods and services tax.

What can you do to join the fight for fairness?

Our new campaign, Take the Tax off Women, is calling for the GST to be totally scrapped from all sanitary products.

All attempts to abolish the tampon tax in the past have been unsuccessful but we're hoping to change that!

Labor has pledged to remove the GST if elected, but we're calling for all parties to support the change in legislation.

We've started an online petition, and we need your signature!

Ever since the introduction of GST, women have been paying tax on sanitary products. Now Australia's leading magazine brands have united behind the push to end what is essentially a tax on being a woman. Sign the petition below if you agree the Gender Selective Tax should be removed.

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