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Period & Hormone Products That Actually Made My Life Better

None of these are a secret. You’ve heard of them. But perhaps you haven’t heard about them from a friend who uses them? Hi, it’s me, a friend.

I plan my entire life around my period and my hormones.

The week of and before my period are near dead zones for:

  • Pants made of non-stretch fabric

  • High intensity workouts

  • Coffee (mainly the week of, when I need it most)

  • Smiling unironically

  • Clear skin

  • Spontaneous sex (send me a cal or no)

  • Optimism

The other two weeks of the month, I’m happy.

Thankfully, my period is very regular now, so I’m able to plan around/for it. There was a time—a very long period of time, years, actually—when my period was EXTREMELY irregular and would just torpedo my life with no warning whatsoever. I remember feeling very out of control during this time. And because of that, I never sought out solutions or products to support my cycle. Ibuprofen and tampons were it.

Now that I’m able to anticipate the various stages of my cycle, I’ve assembled a pretty good roster of products and tools to help me navigate the good, the bad, and the horny (aka my post-period alter ego, Estrogen Freak Barbie).

None of these are a secret. You’ve heard of them. But perhaps you haven’t heard about them from a friend who actually uses them? Hi, it’s me, a friend.

Menstrual cup

This is by far the biggest and best change that I’ve made during my period. I’d describe my flow as medium to heavy depending on the month and the day of my cycle that I'm on. I have like one light period a year. Every other day 1-2 situation is The Red Wedding.

I used to change my tampon like 8 times a day... And I’d still ruin expensive underwear on the regular. I didn’t believe a menstrual cup could contain my period blood better than a tampon. I thought: MESS. Then I tried using a cup and it was not only mess-free, but also hassle-free and comfortable. Friend, I’ve never looked back.

Inserting the cup took some getting used to, but only having to change it two times a day and NEVER leaking or spotting motivated me to keep trying until insertion became comfortable and easy. By the second or third cycle using it, I was a pro.

There are so many benefits to using a menstrual cup. For starters, there’s no toxic shock syndrome anxiety. With tampons, my body felt like a ticking time bomb. One hour too long and I was afraid of losing a limb. With a silicone cup, I change it when I wake up and again around dinner time with zero TSS anxiety. (You can wear a cup for 12 hours.) I also save so much money by not buying environmentally unfriendly tampons! Silicone menstrual cups last for years; make sure it's BPA-free.

I also find my cup so much more comfortable in my body than a tampon. I don’t even feel the cup. Having a tampon inside me felt like being stuffed with scratchy cotton because… I was stuffed with scratchy cotton.

If cleaning and inserting the cup is holding you back from trying it, here’s what I’ll say:

A) When the cup is folded for insertion, it’s the width of two fingers

B) You can use lube if it's not gliding in easy

C) Seeing your period blood is a good thing; changes in color and consistency can be indicators of infections, diseases, and other issues you may want to alert your doctor about

D) I hear you, I was uncomfy at first, but the longterm benefits far outweigh the short-term getting-used-to-it phase.

Most people use the Flex cup. I have a cheaper one that’s harder to get used to inserting and removing (doesn’t have a grippable pull tab), but I’m used to it now so I’mma stick beside her. I love her sm.

You can’t have sex with reusable menstrual cups, but you can have sex with disposable menstrual discs, like this one from Flex. I tried discs—more than once. Did not like, could not make it work for me. That doesn’t mean it won’t work for you!

Semaine PMS & Period Support Supplements

Like the cup, I thought period supplements were ineffective. Some of them surely are. Full transparency: Semaine PMS & Period Support is the only period supplement I’ve taken.

I haven't bought any others because this one works. An influencer I follow who can’t take Ibuprofen even said it was the only thing that helped her during her period. That’s a pretty good endorsement, right?

I use it a few days before my period to cut down on bloating, and then during my period in combination with Ibuprofen to reduce cramps and help with bloating, mood, and fatigue.

Compared to before, when I was only using Ibuprofen, I definitely have more energy and less bloating during my period and PMS. Ibuprofen is for sure doing the heavy lifting with cramps, but Semaine helps out a little extra, I think. Ingredients listed here; caffeine-free green tea is what helps with energy and magnesium is in there for bloating.

I think you can get it at Target but not all Targets (especially super inconsistent New York Targets) so I just order it online.

Thinx period underwear

There are a lot of period underwear to choose from now, but I like Thinx because of their super high waist style. It’s like shapewear but also period underwear but also comfortable. I even wear them when I’m not on my period because they snatch you in the coziest way. Sorcery. Skims could never.

I wear them the first and second day of my period, because even though my cup never leaks, I always have to be double protected on my heavy days. Mentally, I need the assurance.

I’ve never worn Thinx without a cup or tampon, so I can’t vouch for them as a solo absorbency act. According to the brand, the underwear absorb an equivalent of 5 tampons worth of period blood.

Not much else to say here! Comfortable, works for my purposes. You’re supposed to hand wash and hang dry, but sometimes I pop mine in the regular dryer and they’ve held up fine.

The Flo app

If you live in a forced birth state, period tracking apps may not be safe for you and your data. Flo has pledged to protect user data, and experts say text messages and search histories are more likely to be used by prosecutors than period tracking apps, but there’s no way to be absolutely safe here in New Gilead.

Since I live in the beating liberal heart of this shithole country, I feel safe using Flo, for now… You can also track your period in a calendar for free. Flo is $9.99 a month. I use it to see when my next *projected period and ovulation days are. And of course to anticipate Estrogen Freak Barbie's arrival—about 2 to 5 days after the last day of my period. I'm way friskier at this time than I am during ovulation.

It’s also nice to be able to look at the full calendar year and see your period schedule. Like, dear God, thank you for not letting me be on my period and around my family during Christmas and Thanksgiving this year. Last year I was on my period for both holidays and I wanted to unalive myself and others.

*In re the projected ovulation days if you’re trying to make or avoid making a baby: Please remember these days are estimated. My cousin was trying to conceive and the app ovulation days were way off from her actual ovulation days.

What else?

Raspberry leaf tea, in combination with Ibuprofen or some other pain reliever, may help with cramps. I used it for a while when I was off birth control and having bad cramps. I’m not 100% sure it worked, but I figured I’d add it in here because I’ve heard from others (influencers and real people) that it worked for them.

My doctor put me on the “mini pill” (progestin only, no estrogen) in January and that made my period worse to start (heavier, more painful) but better in the past two to three months (shorter, lighter, less painful). She recommended it to me because the regular pill may have been the cause of some hair shedding. No hair shedding with the mini pill so far, but definitely an increase in hormonal acne. Love the options science gives to us women. I’ve also heard it’s VERY important to take the mini pill on time in order for it to be effective at preventing pregnancy. Talk to your doctor, in any case, to see if it’s right for you. I'm only speaking from MY experience and I'm pretty dumb about my body (Catholic upbringing) and often wrong about a lot of shit, tbh.

Would love to hear which products, tools, etc. you all use for period, hormones, and all the associated conditions of owning a uterus. Especially interested in recommendations related to hormonal acne, birth control, and period sex.

What’s new (or new-to-you!) and good?

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