Periods are annoying for everyone, but when they’re on the heavier side, they can have a negative effect on your lifestyle, your love life, and your wallet. The good news is that heavy menstrual flow can often be managed by changing your diet, exercising regularly, and trying hormonal birth control. If these measures fail, see a doctor to determine whether your heavy period might have an underlying cause that should be treated. If you want to learn more about how to make your period lighter and more manageable, keep reading.
1. Avoid white flour, sugar, and processed foods. These foods seem to exacerbate the symptoms of PMS and cause difficult menstrual flow. While it’s not proven that avoiding sugar and carbs actually shortens your periods, it can help reduce bloating and cramps, and many women report having lighter menstrual flow when they pay more attention to their diet. Ice cream and potato chips might be exactly what you’re craving when your period comes, but you’ll really feel a difference if you can avoid them! White bread, pasta, crackers, pretzels, chips, cookies, cake, and other pastries and sugary confections are on the list of foods to avoid. Swap them out for fruit and natural sweeteners like agave or honey. Avoiding these foods all month long is your best bet for managing your period. If you feel like you can’t live without a few scoops of chocolate ice cream to conquer your PMS, you’ll still get the benefits of eating healthy in the weeks before your period.
2. Try a Mediterranean-style diet. Some women have found that basing their diet on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and lean meat has a big effect on their monthly flow. The Mediterranean diet is low in sodium, saturated fat, and processed carbs, all of which cause the body to retain water and bloat up, so eating this way should help with other PMS issues as well. Eat mostly fruits and vegetables, beans and other legumes, olive oil, and whole grains like quinoa and farrow. Eat dairy products, eggs and meat in moderation.
3. Eat food high in potassium. Having low levels of potassium in your body can lead to irregular, heavy periods, in addition to more painful cramping and other symptoms. During your entire cycle, and especially in the weeks leading up to your menstrual flow, choose foods packed with potassium to help regulate your flow. Bananas, sweet potatoes, lentils, yogurt, salmon, and raisins are all high in potassium. Boiling food depletes potassium. Steam or bake potassium-rich foods to get the full benefits.
4. Increase and maintain your intake of other essential nutrients. Foods rich in essential fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins B, C, and E are ideal for menstrual health. In particular, focus on strengthening the blood vessel walls, with vitamin C, flavonoids, and iron being top of your list of must-haves. Iron is also important for restoring iron lost from excessive blood loss.
5. Exercise regularly. Getting regular moderate exercise can help keep your menstrual flow regular and lighten them up. Regular exercise keeps your body healthy and your weight steady, so you’re less likely to experience the body fat fluctuations that lead to irregular and heavy menstrual flow. Some women report that light exercises like swimming, jogging, and power walking make their periods lighter and shorter. Aim to exercise for about 30 minutes 5 – 6 times per week. The type of intense exercise you’d get when training for a marathon or another sporting event can actually cause your periods to stop altogether. It causes your estrogen levels to drop, since you lose so much fat that your body wouldn’t be able to maintain a pregnancy.