1. Keep spare panties in a desk drawer at work/in a pouch in your backpack.
Leaking blood onto your undies is an inevitability. It's going to happen, you know it's going to happen, so why not prepare and keep a few pairs of good panties (not bad ones that you'll dread having to use) in your backpack or desk for when the blood flood cometh?
2. Get a heating pad that doesn't require an outlet.
Not only does heat feel really nice and cozy, but it stimulates blood flow and lessens pain from cramps. Most heating pads need to be plugged in, but as long as you have access to a microwave in your office kitchen, a hot water bottle doesn't need an outlet to relieve your cramps. You can go DIY and make your own microwavable heating pad by filling a knee sock with rice and tying off the ends. If you're truly desperate, your hot laptop is basically also a heating pad. Just don't burn yourself.
3. Cut down on coffee.
It seems counterintuitive to scale back the caffeine while you're probably at your most sleepy, but your body will be so happy if you do. Caffeine can cause your body to retain more water, resulting in a nasty bloated feeling, and worsen cramps. Don't make things harder than they already are. Just cut out a bit of your daily caffeine.
4. Plan your period snacks ahead of time to make sure you're not going crazy with salt.
Another thing that makes your body retain more water is salty foods, which you probably crave while you're on your period and your body feels like it's falling apart. Save yourself from the tempting pull of cravings by actually giving snack-prepping a shot the week of your period. Some good things to include in those snacks are fatty nuts like almonds, oranges, bananas, and a lil bit of dark chocolate.
5. Use meat tenderizer to save the undies and jeans you thought you ruined.
You may think you ruined your pants, but you did not actually ruin your pants. Verified clean person Jolie Kerr has a lot of great tips for getting blood stains out of things (and almost all of them involve things you definitely already have at home). Meat tenderizer powder (NOT the spiky hammer thing) is cheap and especially good for getting out old, set-in blood stains. Like the ones you get when you period on your undies at work or school and can't immediately take them off and rinse them in a public sink. Kerr recommends sprinkling the stain with tenderizer, adding enough water that a paste forms, letting it sit and soak for 20-30 minutes, and then rinsing with cold water before washing.
6. Go for a light jog, or like, at least take a good walk.
I know. I know the last thing you want to do when your uterus feels like it's trying to claw its way out of your body is go running. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, or a hormone that makes you feel good. Those endorphins can counteract the bad hormones that give you cramps (prostaglandins). To make running a bit easier so you're not squatting on the sidewalk every half mile (something I have 100 percent done), try taking a single painkiller about half an hour before your run.
7. Up your iron levels by eating lots of spinach and kale.
The reason you might find yourself salivating at the thought of a red, juicy steak when you're on your period is because your iron levels could be a tad low. Instead of reaching for a greasy burger, which will only make you feel even more like garb, try other iron rich foods like spinach and kale.
8. Use gauze and toilet paper to make a DIY pad.
Because periods can't actually be tracked and are unpredictable little jerks, there will be times in this life that you need to fashion your own pad out of easily accessible, non-period items. As Jezebel advises, you can make a more absorbent pad with toilet paper and gauze, which is included in most first aid kits (and your office or whatever restaurant or store you're at when danger strikes should have a first aid kit). Wrap the gauze in toilet paper, and then take another strip of toilet paper and affix the mini gauze pad to your panties by wrapping it around the pad and your underwear. This is key because it'll keep the contraption from slipping around to your butt, instead of beneath your periody vagina.
9. Go to bed an hour earlier.
Not only will this counteract the effect cutting back on caffeine has on your body, but your body is doing a shit ton of work menstruating and whatnot. Since I doubt you can just sleep in an extra hour (this should be allowed TBQH), going to bed a bit early is the best way to combat period sleepies.
10. Start taking painkillers two days before your period starts.
Prostaglandins are the hormones that spike a couple of days before your period to trigger your body into its menstrual cycle, so that's why you probably experience cramping before the blood ever shows up. You can lessen the actual period cramps by taking painkillers ahead of time—don't wait until you're in a ball on the floor. Stay ahead of the pain. Ride the crest of the wave.
11. Eat some dark chocolate.
It'll taste good, feel good, and dark chocolate (good dark chocolate, ideally 65 percent cacao) contains magnesium, which helps fight cramps.
12. Masturbate (or just have period sex).
This doesn't work for everyone, but a lot of women say that orgasms actually help alleviate cramps because it sends a huge rush of blood to your lower abdomen and releases oxytocin, which can help your uterus relax (AKA stop cramping like crazy).
13. Drink ginger tea.
Ginger looks disgusting (just my opinion) but works wonders for a lot of period-related things. You already know it helps with nausea (that's why ginger ale is the big go-to drink when you're sick), but it also can help reduce inflammation and pain that makes cramps feel worse. To make ginger tea, get some ginger root at the store, peel the skin off, cut it into little pieces, and boil those little pieces in the water you use to make hot tea. Mint or lemon tea is a good option for your ginger water — steer clear of anything with caffeine, like black or green tea.
14. Stay off the scale.
Do yourself a huge favor and don't weigh yourself on your period. Water retention and weight fluctuation typically wanes off throughout your period, but the last thing you need when you're already grumpy and bleeding is to be tricked by your body into thinking you put on weight. Don't do it. Just don't!
15. Don't even think for a second about wearing your tight jeans.
You're already uncomfortable, so why torture yourself by squeezing your bloated tummy into your tightest of jeans? I wish we could all just wear potato sack rompers while on our periods, but no one has invented that outfit yet. So in the meantime, try wearing that big flowy dress you have in your closet, or those trendy sweatpants that are somehow acceptable to wear to work now. Don't put stiff denim on your lower half during this trying time.
Follow Hannah on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.