4 Drinks That'll Ease Your Period Symptoms (And A Few That Won't)
When it comes to your period—whether it's your first one or your 150th—you may find that it's still somewhat of a mystery. Frustrating? Yes, but you're not alone.
For years, women have tried different remedies in order to ease period symptoms, all with varying results. That may be because the research itself on how nutrition impacts women's health is inconsistent.
Take cranberry juice, for example, once the gold standard for what to drink if you have a UTI. One meta-analysis recently published in PLos One found that cranberry juice could reduce the incidence of UTIs as adjuvant therapy1 (i.e., not as the treatment itself), while another review published in Antibiotics states there's no harm in trying cranberry juice as a means to treat UTIs2, but it may not help symptoms either.
With all this confusion on what exactly can help women with their menstrual and vaginal health, it's no wonder that figuring out what to do about period discomfort often takes longer than the length of the period itself. Here, Anita Sadaty, M.D., a board-certified OB/GYN, clears things up and shares the drinks that can help with period symptoms and which beverages to avoid during your menstrual cycle.
The best drinks to soothe period symptoms
These drinks have vitamins, minerals, and other properties that can help you feel better during your next period:
"Water wins when it comes on what you should be drinking when you have your period," says Sadaty. "That's because it hydrates, aids in detoxification and purification, which can all do wonders in terms of balancing your hormones."
Aim for eight glasses a day to help with bloating, fatigue, and dehydration.
A green smoothie
Bust out the blender and fill it up with leafy greens and berries to get a drink that is high in antioxidants. Vitamins A and C specifically (found in these foods) reduce oxidative stress and promote immune function. Here are a few green smoothie recipes to test and make your own.
For those who want to go the juicing route instead of having a smoothie, Sadaty recommends carrot juice for the same reasons.
"The same herbs that help with digestion, such as peppermint and ginger, can be helpful against gas and bloating that happens with your period," says Sadaty. "Chamomile tea is another excellent option because it can relieve cramps and help with sleep disturbances."
What not to drink during your period
When you're dealing with period pains, it's natural that you'd want to comfort yourself. These drinks, however, may do more harm than good:
"Not only will alcohol dehydrate you (making your symptoms more pronounced), it creates a lot of detox work for the liver," says Sadaty. "This isn't ideal in the two weeks leading up to and during your period, as your body goes through these hormonal shifts that the liver is also breaking down."
Soda or high-sugar beverages
Sugar-laden drinks will dehydrate you similar to alcohol, but sugar itself causes inflammation in the body. There is a direct link to the intensity of period symptoms and high inflammation in the body3, so cutting any excess sugar you can out of your diet will make a big difference.
Other ways to manage period symptoms
There are a few natural remedies you can try to combat period symptoms in addition to choosing better beverage options:
Take a daily magnesium supplement: Magnesium can help relax muscles (including those pesky uterine muscles), and as such, Sadaty recommends taking a daily supplement during your period. Here are mbg's picks for the best magnesium supplements for comfort, sleep, digestion, and more.
Try a probiotic: All of the reasons to love probiotics—such as boosting the microbiome with good bacteria to aid in digestion—come in handy during your period, too. Gut-healthy bacteria can also help reduce bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea during your period. Here are a nutrition Ph.D.'s go-to probiotic supplements.
Try ginger tablets: Ginger has some powerful pain-relieving properties and reduces inflammation in the body. Sadaty suggests trying ginger tablets twice a day to manage cramps and other period pains.
You don't have to dread getting your period every month if yours happens to be a pain (literally). Instead, choose drinks and supplements that will naturally reduce unpleasant symptoms, and steer clear of sugary drinks and alcohol if you can help it.
Colleen Travers is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in health, nutrition, diet, fitness, and wellness trends for various publications and brands. Her work has appeared in Reader's Digest, SHAPE, Fit Pregnancy, Food Network, and more. She lives on Long Island with her two kids, two rescue pets, and husband.