If you don't know when your period is coming, how are you going to prepare your body for battle beforehand? Apps like Clue and Period Tracker are hassle free to use and help you keep tabs on your cycle, mood, and skin problems, so you're aware of when they're likely to happen, and have the best chance of tackling them.
2. Eat (dark) chocolate
It's not a myth! Chocolate is good for you when you're on your period, but only when it's the 70% cocoa kind. Not only does it encourage your body to release endorphins, to improve your mood, dark chocolate is high in magnesium, a mineral that's often associated with easing cramps. Eat 4 small squares or 2 big ones as a snack or dessert—as always, it's everything in moderation.
3. Go bananas
It's always a good idea to eat fruits and veggies—it's just that it's an especially good idea during your period. Bananas in particular are rich in vitamin B6 and potassium, which, like chocolate, reduces cramps, but also helps with that Michelin-man-esque bloating that most of us can't get rid of.
4. Take vitamin E
According to a study conducted at Tarbait Modarres University in Iran, taking vitamin E significantly lowered the intensity of the period pain felt by their participants, and the group that took the supplements had a shorter duration of pain and blood loss than those who were taking a placebo as well. You can either take it in tablet form or eat foods that are rich in vitamin E, like nuts and leafy greens.
5. Hot. Water. Bottles.
Most people know that a hot water bottle can soothe cramps, but many don't bother because they underestimate the difference it can make. Research shows that the application of heat can "actually deactivate the pain at a molecular level"—much in the same way as painkillers do. Bonus: boil the kettle once, get hot water for the bottle and a cup of tea simultaneously.
6. Cut down on salt
Fries, chips, bacon, even soup—loads of truly delicious foods are loaded with more salt that you might expect, and they're not doing you or your period bloat any favors. Cutting out salt, as well as drinking plenty of water to flush out your system, will keep your stomach as flat as it's possible for it to be while the red devil is in your belly.
7. Press the pain away
Some women report amazing success using pressure points to tackle period pain. Rub small O-shaped circles onto the fleshy part of your palm, or try holding just above your ankle bone, and then the area between your big and second toe, one after the other, for 1-3 minutes. Both of these tricks are said to help relieve cramps—it might not work for everyone, but hey, it's not going to make it any worse!
8. Boost your iron intake
Hey, you know what blood is full of? Iron—which means during your period, your supplies are running pretty low. Eating foods like red meat, beans, spinach, and fortified cereals will rebalance your iron levels, boost your energy, and stop you from getting anemic.
9. Move your body
Curling up in a ball in front of Netflix seems like the obvious choice, we know, but small amount of exercise can have an impact on both your mood and your pain levels—honest! Light walking, yoga, or riding a bike are great for when your period is actually there.
10. Give up drinking
Not forever, we're not monsters—just when you period is still in town. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning your PMS symptoms might be worse, and it's harder to deal with a hangover when you're feeling hormonal, too. It also dehydrates you, and it makes you more likely to indulge in unhealthy, salty foods like takeaways, which we've already established are opt-outs.
11. Have sex
Orgasms are god's gift to women, guys, and not just for obvious reasons. Coming during that time of the month can relieve cramps (and improve mood, funnily enough). As long as you and your partner are cool with it, period sex is totally safe and enjoyable. Oh, and vaginal orgasms are better for pain relief than clitoral ones, FYI.
12. Preempt paracetemol
Get cramps every month without fail? Strategize by taking your pain relief tablets before the contractions usually strike. Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen pre-emptively can reduce symptoms before they even happen, leaving you free to get on with, ya'know, everything that doesn't stop just because you're bleeding.
13. Stick it to stains
Hey, accidents happen. Get bloodstains out of underwear and sheets by soaking the item in question in a bowl of cold, salted water ASAP. Leave it to soak for 3-4 hours, then rub the stain with detergent and wash as usual, and your favorite pants should be wearable again.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.