With today being the unofficial start of summer (and I’m sure we all received a taste of some especially hot weather in the last few days to prove it), people are looking to make the best of the Memorial Day holiday by putting on BBQs, attending festivals, going to parties, and, of course, frolicking on the beach. But how is a girl to deal when she makes plans to stunt in her brand new swimsuit, only to find that Aunt Flo is ready to make her monthly appearance for the holiday, too?
No worries. We spoke to Maria Sophocles, MD, of Women’s Healthcare of Princeton in New Jersey. We talked about all things having to do with your menstrual cycle and the issues you think could hold you back from stunting on the beach. That includes the best coverage for a woman just starting her period but wanting to scamper about unbothered.
“Cups are the marathon runner of controlling menstrual flow,” Sophocles said about menstrual cups, which we know have received mixed reviews. But Sophocles said that they can go the distance in a way tampons and sanitary pads can’t. “Menstrual cups can hold quite a lot of flow and don’t need to be changed for up to 8 hours. They can enable someone with heavy flow to avoid thick pads or having to change tampons — not easy to do at the beach!”
As for the bloating that may make one feel as blown up as that beach ball you see rolling around on the sand, Sophocles said bloating is normal, but not in the way you think.
“Bloating is a sensation that makes the abdomen feel larger than normal,” Sophocles said. “The abdomen doesn’t get physically bigger until its volume increases by one quart, so the bloated feeling may occur, but the abdomen is not distended. Intestinal gas may cause the feeling of bloating.”
And intestinal bloating can be prevented, according to Sophocles. She recommends eating slower and consuming smaller and more frequent meals. She also recommends chewing your foods thoroughly, drinking beverages at room temperature, taking a “stroll” after eating to help with digestion, and increasing your physical activity during the day. All that may not make you feel less crappy, but at least you won’t look that way.
Quick remedies for that bloat also include peppermint and chamomile tea, turmeric, fennel/caraway, and both coriander and anise plants. Sophocles said that such natural remedies “are anecdotally helpful,” as are over-the-counter medicines like Pepto-Bismol, Beano, a lactase enzyme like Lactaid or Dairy Ease, activated charcoal and simethicone.
Lastly, we asked the doctor about what you should do when you want to get a wax to prepare to hit the beach when you’re on your period. Many of us would probably turn up our noses at the idea, or worry that our bodies would be more sensitive to the pain, but Sophocles said that there really isn’t anything wrong with getting cleaned up during that time of the month–just opt for a menstrual cup or tampon when you go in.
“It’s totally harmless,” she said. “A menstrual period is shedding of the lining of the uterus. Getting a wax doesn’t feel great, but neither waxing of the genital skin nor menstrual periods affect each other.”
Well, that should about cover it. As you prepare to enjoy your holiday in whatever way you see fit, don’t allow your pesky period to hinder that fun. Keep your products close by in your bag, take some ibuprofen for your cramps, drink some tea to handle that bloating, and swap your bed (which is always so tempting) for a fun array of Memorial Day activities.