Cisgender women and men have different health needs from each other; most of these differences come in the form of reproductive health. The tips below have been curated especially for women who are still experiencing a regular period. These tips also work well for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, and who are trying to get pregnant.
Practice Safe Sex
Practicing safe sex is key to keeping your body healthy. A high school sex education class might say that the best way to avoid sex-related health problems is to avoid having sex at all. While this is true, it’s also not a realistic option for most adults.
Having sex with only one partner is the next best way to stay healthy in bed, but with the average number of people Americans have being between four to eight partners in a lifetime, this again isn’t super realistic advice. Besides, there is nothing wrong with having sex, so long as you are being safe about it and having sex with a consenting partner.
Instead, wearing a condom (assuming you are having sex with someone who has a penis), is the best way to prevent STDs. This is because hormonal birth controls (the pill, patch, etc.) do not usually prevent STDs, only pregnancy.
When in doubt of whether your partner has an STD or not, get tested at your local health clinic or a private laboratory that provides an std testing service. The tests are usually pain-free and simple, needing only either a urine or blood sample, depending on what you are testing for.
Taking birth control (pill/patch) or using an IUD can help to prevent pregnancies, but they may have some side effects that can distort the length and severity of your period. This is pretty normal, so there is not much reason to be concerned if this happens. If you use Plan B after having unprotected sex, you may miss your next period. Take a pregnancy test if this happens.
Having an abortion can also affect your period. Make sure to talk to your doctor about the possible side effects. If you have a chemical abortion and change your mind fast enough, you may be able to get an abortion pill reversal to stop the effects of the abortion pill. This will also have some side effects that you should talk to your doctor about.
Take Mineral Supplements
Taking certain mineral supplements can help to reduce some of the symptoms of your period. Try magnesium supplements if you have painful cramping or dramatic mood swings. Taking magnesium supplements can also help when you are not on your period, as it can help to reduce general stomach irritation.
If you do not want to take supplements, you can also try to get more magnesium in your diet naturally by eating more foods that naturally contain magnesium, like spinach, seeds, and brown rice.
Iron is often stored in red blood cells in the body. When on your period, you lose plenty of red blood cells, which can also reduce your iron levels. This can lead to feeling dizzy, having headaches, and generally worsening other period symptoms.
The best way to combat this is to add more iron to your diet. You can do this by taking supplements or by eating more foods that are naturally rich in iron. Some of these foods include green leafy vegetables, red meat, beans, and seeds.
Quit or Avoid Smoking
Smoking while not on birth control is risky enough, but smoking while on birth control is even worse for your health. Hormonal birth control (pills/patches) gives your body extra estrogen. While this is not a problem on its own, when extra estrogen is combined with the nicotine from cigarettes or vapes, it can lead to worse problems.
When combined, they can lead to a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, both can be fatal. So, if you are smoking, try to quit as soon as possible. If you are not smoking, avoid starting.
Your reproductive health is just as important as any other part of your health. Make sure to take care of yourself and consider following the tips above.