Exercise, diet & periods

Diet and exercise bring a range of health benefits as well as improving your experience of having periods.


Studies have found that women who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer menstrual pain, cramps and mood disturbance. We are not certain why exercise is helpful for PMS but studies demonstrate that exercise can release ‘happy’ hormones such as serotonin and endorphins, which may explain the benefit.


A growing body of evidence suggests diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, calcium and vitamin D, and low in animal fats, salt and caffeine may reduce the risk of troublesome PMS symptoms. Avoiding salt can help reduce fluid retention, abdominal bloating, breast swelling and pain. High caffeine intake can cause irritability, poor sleep and menstrual cramps.

A healthy diet is high in vegetables (five serves daily), fruit (two serves per day), nuts, seeds, fish (up to three servings per week) and other sources of omega-3 foods such as flax or chia seeds, low-fat dairy food, proteins such as legumes and eggs, and a variety of wholegrains such as rice (brown, basmati, doongara), traditional rolled oats, buckwheat flour, wholegrain breads (rye, essene, spelt, kamut), wholemeal pasta, couscous, millet or amaranth.

Lean meat (red meat or chicken) is an important source of iron and protein, especially for women with heavy periods. Avoid saturated fats such as butter, cream, bacon and potato chips; limit salt and caffeine. Drink more water and herbal teas such as chamomile.

Increase your intake of calcium-rich foods such as nuts, low-fat dairy products, fish with bones such as salmon and sardines, tofu, broccoli and bok choy.

Nutritional supplements

Many women take supplements such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids to help with symptoms of PMS; however, not all supplements have been shown to help. Below is a list of supplements for which studies have demonstrated some scientific evidence for benefits, although with all of them, more research is required. Check with your doctor to ensure there are no risks with you trying these supplements. Some supplements may interact with medication.

Vitamins B6 and B1

  • May help with PMS.
  • Reduces pain, cramps and mood disturbance.
  • Do not exceed 50 mg of vitamin B6 daily or 100 mg vitamin B1.
  • Best if combined as a multi-B vitamin, not as single nutrients.
  • Avoid high doses of vitamin B6 (more than 50 mg per day) and prolonged use, as this can cause nerve toxicity such as tingling, burning and shooting pains.

Vitamin E (natural alpha-tocopherol)

  • May help reduce pain and menstrual blood flow.
  • Dose: 200 IU vitamin E daily; commence two days prior to periods and continue for three days from onset of periods.
  • May cause gut upset.
  • Avoid high doses over 400 IU daily.

Vitamin D

  • May help regulate your cycle, relieve muscle pains, improve moods.
  • Dose: 1000 IU daily or more; check with your doctor, who will advise a suitable dosage for your needs.
  • Vitamin D toxicity is rare and may occur when taking very high doses of vitamin D. This results in raised blood calcium levels leading to feelings of malaise, loss of appetite, feeling thirsty, constipation or diarrhoea, abdominal pain and muscle weakness, fatigue, confusion.


  • Relieves menstrual cramps.
  • Improves premenstrual mood changes, especially irritability and anxiety.
  • May help with muscle relaxation, muscle cramps and sleep.
  • Dose: 300 mg one or two times daily (best taken at night with calcium).
  • May cause diarrhoea and loose stools; reduce dosage if this occurs.
  • May cause palpitations.
  • Avoid if you have renal problems.
  • May lower blood pressure and cause heart arrhythmia, drowsiness and weakness in high doses.


  • May help with PMS.
  • Reduces menstrual cramps, fluid retention, mood disorders and food cravings.
  • Dose: 1200 mg daily.
  • May cause constipation and flatulence.
  • Avoid if you have renal disease or suffer high blood calcium levels.
  • May interact with blood pressure and heart tablets.


  • May help relieve menstrual pain, cramping, depression.
  • May aid immune system.
  • Dose: 30 mg one to three times daily.
  • May cause nausea, gastrointestinal upset, metallic taste in mouth.
  • Avoid long-term use.

Fish oils

  • May relieve menstrual pain, cramping, depression.
  • Dose: 1 g taken one, two or three times daily.
  • May cause nausea and gastrointestinal upset.
  • In high doses, may ‘thin’ period blood (this may be useful if you suffer dark, thick menses).
  • Avoid if allergic to seafood.

Related information

  • See also Adolescent Girls for tips on staying well during your adolescent years
  • See also The Middle Years for tips on staying well during your middle years
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The Best Foods for Cramps, Fatigue, Bloating, and More Period Symptoms

Fiber-rich foods like apples and pears also help the digestive tract function regularly. Produce that has a high water content (such as pears, melons, tomatoes, and grapes) can also help keep things moving. Aim for 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily, which can be met by eating five servings of high-fiber fruits and vegetables. Increase your intake slowly, by just 4 to 5 grams per day, or you may experience stomach discomfort, says Dr. Yoshida. Also, be sure to drink at least two additional glasses of water every day, which will help push the fiber through the digestive tract.


What to eat: Pineapples, oranges, and bananas

Why it works: This eating advice is a bit more specific; reach for one of the above three foods. Hunnes points to a 2013 study in the Journal of Pineal Research, which shows that consuming pineapple, orange, or banana significantly increases the body’s serum concentrations of melatonin, a hormone that helps control sleep-wake cycles. “By eating foods that are known to increase our melatonin levels within two hours of bedtime, we may be able to improve our ability to fall asleep if we have a proclivity towards insomnia,” she says. (Related: The Best Sleep-Better Products to Finally Help Cure Your Insomnia)

Stress and Anxiety

What to eat: Asparagus, fish, blueberries, and healthy carbs

Why it works: Targeting key nutrients may be an effective strategy for overcoming stress. According to one German study, the vitamin C in blueberries helped lower blood pressure and cortisol levels after a nerve-racking situation in which subjects were asked to do some public speaking and tough math problems. “Asparagus is rich in folic acid, which has been identified as a mood-enhancing nutrient,” says Hunnes. “We also shouldn’t overlook the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. Omega-3s help keep cortisol and adrenaline from spiking.” To combine these foods into a zen meal, Hunnes suggests eating a cup of asparagus (containing two-thirds of the folic acid most women need in a day), 4 ounces of salmon, and a cup of blueberries for a sweet kick (plus, here’s how to keep stress from wreaking havoc on your body).

Low-fat carbohydrates can also increase production of serotonin in the brain, which helps relax you, says Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., coauthor of The Serotonin Power Diet. Diane Grabowski-Nepa, R.D., a dietitian in Camarillo, CA, suggests having whole-grain toast or oatmeal topped with a teaspoon of honey. Or try snacking on a cup of air-popped popcorn or five small graham crackers.


What to eat: Coffee, black tea, spinach, fatty fish such as trout, sardines, and herring

Why it works: You’ll notice caffeine on the list of ingredients for many drugs. Why? Caffeine seems to help the body absorb pain-relieving medications, so take some sips of black tea or coffee in as you rest with some Advil. In addition, choose a meal with riboflavin-rich spinach. “The B vitamins have been linked to preventing migraines, although the exact mechanism is unknown,” Hunnes says. “High-doses of riboflavin decrease the prevalence of migraine headaches, and so eating foods high in riboflavin may help as well.”

Fatty fish, which are high in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, may also lower the body’s production of prostaglandins. Aim for a 4- to 6-ounce serving two or three times a week.


What to eat: Asparagus, coffee, black or green tea, lemon, cucumber, avocado, banana, and papaya

Why it works: Probiotic yogurt will keep your digestive system humming, while tea and coffee can help with water retention. Look for potassium-rich foods like avocado and banana for system balance, and use lemon as a natural detoxifier. Cording also suggests a couple green veggies to fight bloat. “In addition to being a diuretic food, asparagus also has prebiotic fibers, which promote healthy absorption of nutrients, discouraging gas and bloating,” she says. “Then the silica, caffeic acid, and vitamin C in cucumbers help reduce swelling and prevent water retention.” (Related: 8 Simple Ways to Get Rid of Belly Bloat)

Muscle Aches and Joint Pain

What to eat: Banana, avocado, tart cherries, oranges, berries, ginger, turmeric, nuts, leafy greens, broccoli, and sweet potato

Why it works: Cording says the combination of key nutrients like magnesium, potassium and calcium have shown themselves helpful in tackling aches and pains around the body, especially from sore muscles. Add in some foods with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, like ginger and blueberries, and you’ve got yourself an ache-fighting eating regimen. “The potassium and magnesium help soothe muscles,” she says. “Also, the anthocyanins, or pigment, in cherries help relieve inflammation, which may help relieve aches and soreness.”

Vitamin C-which is abundant in strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries-may help slow wear and tear on your joints. Some research finds that high levels of vitamin C could be protective against issues like osteoarthritis. The vitamin’s antioxidant activity may keep free radicals from wreaking havoc. Plus, vitamin C plays an essential role in the formation of collagen, a key component of cartilage and bone. Try to get 120 milligrams daily, which can be provided by two oranges. Other C-rich foods: cantaloupe and broccoli.

Moodiness and Irritability

What to eat: Salmon, avocado, lean protein, yogurt, oats, and dark chocolate

Why it works: Next time you can’t seem to shake your PMS irritability, counteract it with foods that support stable blood sugar, energy, and mood-boosting neurotransmitters. “Dark chocolate has been shown to increase levels of serotonin, which regulates mood,” says Cording. Chocolate is also full of the amino acid L-tryptophan, which can boost the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates mood. (People who suffer from depression often have low serotonin levels.) “Fish is also rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which is key for the production of serotonin, and the protein in fish, meat, and eggs promote stable energy and blood sugar, which in turn helps keep our mood stable.”

  • By By Jenna Birch and Tricia O’Brien

You can do more than just use the right period products to make that time of the month more comfortable. Period pains can be made easier when you eat the right foods too.

Here’s our list of 9 foods that’ll help soothe your stomach during your time of the month to let you power through your period!

1 – Dark Chocolate

Now you no longer need an excuse to indulge. Not only does dark chocolate satisfy your sweet tooth during your period, but it’s high in potassium which helps your muscles to function, ideal for when those cramps come!

2 – Peanut Butter

When that sudden hunger strikes, peanut butter is the perfect solution for snacking. Just a couple of tablespoons will fill you up with protein, healthy fats and fibre. Plus, peanut butter is full of vitamin e which helps with cramping and inflammation.

3 – Eggs

Whether you like them scrambled or sunny-side up, eggs are a great way to fight PMS. Vitamin D, B6 and E have been proven to help reduce the symptoms of the cycle, and luckily, eggs are full of them!

4 – Leafy Greens

There’s no better time to start on the health hype than before or during your period. Leafy green vegetables like kale and broccoli are packed with calcium which help to relieve muscle tension during cramping.

5 – Ginger

It’s time to get drinking! Ginger kills two birds with one stone. It helps to relieve the inflammation and pain associated with period cramps, and is often used to soothe upset stomachs – a symptom many experience during this time of the month.

6 – Pineapple

Manganese, copper, vitamin C, B1, B6… name it, it’s probably in it. The vitamins in pineapple help to relax your muscles, making a great solution for combatting menstrual cramps.

7 – Bananas

Bananas might be the answer to calming down those menstrual cramps. Packed with potassium, they can help prevent muscle pains and fight that bloated feeling. It’s a win win in our eyes!

8 – Salmon

If you’re still struggling with the cramps, try adding salmon into your meals. Just to name a few benefits, salmon is rich in fatty acids which helps with menstrual cramps, it’s a source of vitamin D which helps absorb calcium (a mineral that maintains muscle), and filled with B6 which may stop those moods from swinging.

9 – Water

We’re advocates of staying hydrated anyway – water is essential for your body to function! But drinking even more water during this time of the month can help out with both the bloated belly and cramps.

If you’re not a fan of the taste, try infusing different fruits and herbs like lemon, strawberry, and mint, into your water.

Stop those cramps from coming.

Discover the vegan foods that will help with period pains.

Check out our blog

What food or drink helps to ease your menstrual cramps? Let us know over on Facebook or Twitter!

Using Foods Against Menstrual Pain

The amount of estrogen in a woman’s blood is constantly being readjusted. A low-fat, high-fiber diet can significantly reduce estrogen levels.5 Cancer researchers have taken a great interest in this phenomenon, because lowering the level of estrogen in the blood helps reduce the risk of breast cancer.6 Less estrogen means less stimulation for cancer cell growth.

If a woman eating a Western diet cuts her fat intake in half, her estrogen level will be about 20 percent lower.7 If the amount of fat is cut even more, the estrogen level will drop further, which is a good change because a lower hormone level will have less effect on the uterine cells. In addition to lowering estrogen, a low-fat diet may also be beneficial because high-fiber vegetables, beans, fruits, and whole grains help the body eliminate estrogens.

Estrogen is normally pulled from the bloodstream by the liver, which sends it through a small tube, called the bile duct, into the intestinal tract. There, fiber soaks it up like a sponge and carries it out with other waste. The more fiber there is in the diet, the better the natural “estrogen disposal system” works.

Animal products do not contain fiber. When an individual’s diet consists predominantly of animal products such as chicken, fish, or yogurt, daily fiber needs may not be met. The result can be disastrous. The waste estrogens, which should bind to fiber and leave the body, pass back into the bloodstream. This hormone “recycling” increases the amount of estrogen in the blood. However, the reabsorption of estrogens can be blocked with the fiber found in grains, vegetables, beans, and other plant foods.

So by avoiding animal products and added oils, estrogen production is reduced. And by replacing chicken, skim milk, and other non-fiber foods with grains, beans, and vegetables, estrogen elimination is increased.

In a research study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology in February 2000,8 a low-fat, vegan diet significantly reduced pain and PMS for many women. The diet change was designed to do two things. First, it eliminated all animal fats and nearly all vegetable oils. Second, its emphasis on plant-based foods means that there was more fiber in the diet.

10 Foods Expectant Moms Have Eaten to Induce Labor

Are labor-inducing foods just the stuff of old-wives’ tales? Perhaps. After all, there isn’t much (or any) scientific basis for eating them.

But for expectant mothers who’ve watched their due dates come and go, anything seems worth trying. We’ve rounded up some of the most popular foods that moms believe speed up the time between now and delivery. Be sure to check with your doctor or health practitioner before eating anything that isn’t already part of your normal diet.

Image zoom © AMC Theatres

Eggplant parm

At Italian restaurant Scalini’s in Cobb County, Georgia, every baby picture on the wall—yes, all 300 of them—were born after their respective mothers downed a plate of the eggplant parm on the menu. Now, as reported by ABC News, Scalini’s officially “guarantees” that those who eat the eggplant parm will go into labor. “Two or three years after we began, a few people had just mentioned to us they came in when they were pregnant, and ate this eggplant and had a baby a short time after that,” John Bogino, one of the managers of the restaurant, told the news outlet. “One person told another, and it just grew by itself by leaps and bounds.” It’s only $9.95, so, if you’re in the area, why not? Besides, if you don’t have your “eggplant baby” within two days, you’ll get a gift certificate. Pretty sweet deal.

Lemon drop cupcakes

In 2013, NBC 29 reported that a certain Charlottesville, Virginia bakery claimed to have sent at least 150 moms into labor simply by selling them a certain lemon drop cupcake. Cappellino’s Crazy Cakes has since closed, unfortunately for all mothers-to-be out there, but the legend lives on: A Google search for “lemon drop cupcake” yields dozens of copy-cat recipes and even entire forums dedicated to the labor-inducing qualities of the cupcake. “Last week maybe I saw someone posted a recipie for lemon drop cupcakes that supposedly make you go into labor,” wrote one commenter. “…Sunday night we made the cupcakes and baby Tylan was born at 6:05pm on Monday! Guess they really do work! Good luck ladies!”

The “Maternity Salad”

It’s simply called “The Salad,” it’s been on the menu at Caioti Pizza Cafe for nearly 30 years, and frankly, it’s no joke. Owner Carrie LaDou told that “pregnant women come in every day — we have between five and 20 a day — they’re past due and they want to get the baby out.” When LaDou was pregnant, even her own doctor told her to eat the famed salad (he didn’t know she owned the restaurant that made it famous). “He told me, ‘Look, there’s this place in Studio City and they have this salad.”

Shrimp quesadillas

As reported by The Gainesville Sun, some Florida moms swear by, of all things, a shrimp quesadilla. When the July 14, 2012 due date of Gainesville, Florida resident Melissa Hoh came and went, her husband’s friends told him about a news story they’d read in 2006 about three women going into labor a day after eating the infamous quesadilla at local restaurant Las Margaritas. Hoh and her husband laughed it off at first, but decided to grab the quesadilla for dinner that evening…and, as fate would have it, Hoh’s water broke as soon as they arrived home that night. Back in 2012, Elizabeth Pacheco, a waitress at the restaurant, told the Sun, “It’s kind of silly, but we’ve heard about it. We don’t know why, but it happens. I’ve seen one of the women a few times with her baby, a little girl.”

Spicy food

If you can handle the heat, then go ahead and load up your plate with hot sauce. You just might get a newborn baby out of it. Why? Well, there are a few theories. Some speculate that spicy food (and, many add, Chinese food) might be able to start contractions because it thoroughly stimulates the digestive system. But others point out that there’s really no connection between an expectant mother’s gastrointestinal tract and her uterus (besides proximity, of course). Many theorize that it’s actually the hormone produced when one consumes spicy food, prostaglandin, that gets things going. But some research shows that you should actually go easy on spicy food, which releases capsaicin that can interfere with your body’s natural ability to prevent excessive pain during labor. So…never mind about the hot sauce after all.


No, not a pack of Twizzlers—real black licorice, which contains an active ingredient called glycyrrhizin. In a report published in 2002 in the American Journal of Epidemiology, Finnish researcher Timo E. Strandberg, PhD, surveyed over 1,000 Finnish women who’d just given birth and figured out how much glycyrrhizin they normally ate. (Apparently, Finns really like their licorice.) His study found that babies born to mothers who ate tons of licorice were born an average of two and a half days earlier than those born to mothers who did not eat as much licorice, and he definitively concluded that “heavy licorice (glycyrrhizin) consumption has been associated with shorter gestation.” Strandberg theorized that this may be because glycyrrhizin interacts with cortisol levels, which are an important factor when it comes to when an expectant woman goes into labor. Or perhaps it speeds up labor by increasing the hormone prostaglandin. (So basically, even when science is involved, nobody has a clue.)


According to some, pineapple’s the way to go—but this, too, has never been proven. The proteolytic enzyme found in fresh pineapple, bromelain, can soften the tissue surrounding the cervix, but whether or not that could actually bring about labor remains to be seen.

Red raspberry leaf tea

The operative word for this old wives’ tale is “old.” Using a raspberry leaf for therapeutic and medicinal purposes was first written about in 1597 in a book called “The Herbal.” Today, it’s not just pregnant women who still flock to the plant in tea form; red raspberry leaf tea is also used to treat gastrointestinal tract disorders, painful or heavy periods, and morning sickness. And as for quickening delivery? In a 2001 study published in the “Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health,” M. Simpson and colleagues wrote that “raspberry leaf, consumed in tablet form, was found to cause no adverse effects for mother or baby, but contrary to popular belief, did not shorten the first stage of labor. The only clinically significant findings were a shortening of the second stage of labor (mean difference = 9.59 minutes) and a lower rate of forceps deliveries between the treatment group and the control group (19.3% vs. 30.4%).”

A slice of pizza

A Charlotte, North Carolina pizza restaurant, Hawthorne’s New York Pizza and Bar, has become a favorite spot for pregnant women who want to get that bun (calzone?) in the oven out, once and for all. Hawthorne’s New York Pizza and Bar now calls the pizza “The Inducer.” The toppings? Just buffalo sauce, mozzarella, and some grilled chicken. One woman ate just a slice of the pizza before her water broke, while another had the pizza for dinner and gave birth the following morning. As owner Michael Adams told Charlotte Five “I think it’s amazing. When the first person posted that our buffalo wing pizza induced their labor, several new moms followed up to say the same thing.”

Taco Bell

When all else fails, there’s always…a Chalupa Supreme? Yup. According to an impassioned discussion on a pregnancy forum on What to Expect, many pregnant women believe Taco Bell can induce labor. “So my hubby came home from work yesterday and his coworker told him to tell me that apparently Taco Bell is supposed to induce labor. How??” one user wrote, and another responded that she’d “heard the same thing.” Yet another chimed in, adding that she “had Taco Bell yesterday, unknowingly, and had my baby girl this morning!” There’s even an offshoot converastion about whether Taco Bell cravings meant you’d have a boy. But alas, the jury is out on this one—like all the others.

Last Updated on May 13, 2019

While there has not been enough research supporting the theory that any foods can induce labour, many women swear by certain foods that have helped them start labour. Here we look at some of the foods that women have commonly claimed to have helped them induce labour.

Foods to Induce Labour for Expectant Moms

Here is a list of foods you can consume to induce labour and bring you face to face with your little one a bit sooner.

1. Pineapple

Fresh Pineapple contains an enzyme called Bromelain which is rarely found elsewhere. Bromelain helps soften the cervix and stimulate the smooth muscles, which is known to start labour.

2. Green Papaya

Raw green papayas are abundant in the enzyme Papin. Papaya leaves contain latex, which acts as prostaglandin and oxytocin and can help start contractions. The more the papaya ripens, the more papin is lost which is why consuming a ripened papaya will not have any effect when it comes to inducing labour.

3. Spicy Foods

While it is quite common for expectant mothers to eat spicy food to induce labour, it is something that mothers-to-be should avoid if they want to have a natural and pain-free birth.

When a baby is born naturally, the pressure released as the baby is going down the birth canal releases endorphins, which helps relieve pain. Certain spicy foods release capsaicin which can work against the body during labour as it counteracts the natural endorphins that the body produces during labour.

4. Black Licorice

Black liquorice can stimulate the production of prostaglandins due to the chemical glycyrrhizin. However, consuming too much of this can result in mild diarrhoea, which causes mild contractions in the intestines. This results in a sympathetic contraction of the uterus, thus starting labour.

5. Garlic

Garlic stimulates the bowels, helping empty them out which can help in starting labour. It is one of the most popular foods to induce labour.

6. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Red raspberry tea, which is believed to tone and strengthen the uterus, is also said to produce contractions in the muscles in the uterus. If you drink red raspberry leaf tea every day from your thirty-second week of pregnancy, you will reduce the chances of post-term pregnancy.

7. Castor Oil

Castor oil extracted straight from the bean of the plant is one of the foods that induce labour quickly. Women have used castor oil to induce labour for centuries. Even though consumption of castor oil is safe, it can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in rare cases, which can be very uncomfortable amid labour.

8. Cumin Tea

Cumin is a common aid in digestive tract issues. It provides relief from bloating and helps start the menstruation cycle. It can also be used to induce labour. Add some sugar or honey to make it taste better if you do not like the taste.

9. Black Cohosh

This medicinal herb was used to treat women’s health issues related to menstruation, menopause and others as it seems to have effects that are very similar to the oestrogen that is naturally produced by the body. This was also used to induce labour in pregnant women. There are two other types of cohosh, blue and white. But remember this, that they are not the same as black cohosh and should not be used instead of it.

10. Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil is something that most midwives will recommend pregnant women who want to induce labour. The body converts a substance in the oil into prostaglandins. This helps in softening and diluting the cervix, resulting in induced contractions.

11. Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar originates in Italy and is made from freshly harvested white grape juice. It is often used as salad dressing. Some women take shots of balsamic vinegar to induce labour as it does the work of castor oil without causing nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea.

12. Basil and Oregano

These herbs are the main seasoning for the eggplant parmesan dish that was very popular amongst pregnant women for inducing labour.

Other Tips to Bring on Labour Quickly

Eating foods that are said to aid in inducing labour may not be enough, so try out these few tips and tricks to help bring on labour.

1. Exercise

Exercises keep your body active and healthy enough to be able to bear the physical stress involved in labour. Any activity that gets your heart racing is good.

2. Acupuncture

The body will be stimulated to release oxytocin, which plays an essential role in childbirth. This method is an ancient Chinese way of sticking very fine needles into parts of the body that control a specific organ.

3. Acupressure

While acupuncture requires the use of fine needles, acupressure involves putting pressure on the parts of the body that runs along the meridian system of the body. Check with your doctor before you make any appointments for acupressure.

4. Sex

Sex can help release oxytocin, which is essential to begin labour. While it is safe to have sex even when you are nine months pregnant, it is not safe to have sex after your water has broken as it increases the risk of infection.

5. Nipple Stimulation

When the nipples are stimulated, they can cause the uterus to contract, which will cause labour to start.

It is always advised to allow your baby to come out naturally, as it can shorten the time spent in the hospital and also the healing time quickens. However, if you are eager to induce labour, be sure to speak to your doctor about any method you choose.

Also Read:

Does Squats Help for Inducing Labour
How Tea Helps to Induce Labour
Essential Oils for Inducing Labour
Reflexology to Induce Labour

12 Foods To Eat When You Have Period Cramps

Anyone who has ever experienced PMS before knows that cramps are real, and they can be terrible. But before you go ahead and grab some ibuprofen, consider grabbing a snack, too — there are foods to eat when you have period cramps that will actually make your life so much easier.

You know how it goes. Every month, that one week rolls around and after feeling bloated for a few days, the cramps set in and all you want to do is either eat everything in sight, or simply rip your uterus out completely. It’s not always a pretty picture, and we seriously don’t get enough accolades for surviving the roller coaster that is having a period. As much as many of us want to assuage our cramps with pizza and wine, those foods really aren’t helping you eat your way to comfort. If anything, they’re actually making your cramps worse. Yikes.

“PMS may be more significant among women with nutritional deficiencies,” Joyce Faraj, PhD, RDN, CDN, a nutritionist at Mountainside, a rehabilitation center, tells Bustle. “Increased PMS symptoms among women with lower intakes of complex carbohydrates, fibers, calcium and higher intake of simple sugars and sodium, lower intake of calcium, magnesium, and B6. High dietary intake of vitamin D may reduce risk of PMS. There is also a lower risk of PMS in women with high dietary intakes of thiamin and riboflavin.”

Faraj says that inflammation might be higher if you’re PMS-ing, so try seeking out anti-inflammatory foods. “Salmon and other fatty fish, lean meats, almonds, black beans, nuts, chickpeas, dark chocolate, lentils, peas, sunflower seeds, garlic, ginger, rosemary, extra-virgin olive oil, turmeric, and cinnamon,” are all examples of anti-inflammatory ingredients that can be helpful.

Here are my 12 go-to foods to help you power through your period without the mind-numbing cramps.

1. Dark Chocolate

Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Do you ever wonder why you crave chocolate around your period? Your body knows what it’s doing when that craving sets in. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants that can help your body’s inflammatory response fend off the dreaded cramps.

2. Water

You know drinking water is necessary for your body to function in every way possible, but it also can help you out with all those cramps. Down as much as you can in a day, and you’ll feel like a new human.

3. Bananas

Just like eating a banana after you exercise, eating it when your uterus starts cramping is a great way to get your muscles to chill the hell out. The reason is that bananas contain potassium, which, if you have too little of, can contribute to cramps.

4. Pineapple

Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images News/Getty Images

There are vitamins and enzymes in pineapples that actually relax your muscles to combat the cramps, plus this fruit has the added bonus of boosting your mood.

5. Salmon

This fish is rich in omega 3s and vitamin D, which both help to fight those painful cramps just like an anti-inflammatory would.

6. Tea

A cup of tea, green tea, or chamomile tea specifically will sooth your mind, body, and soul. Snuggle up with a warm cup after a long day, and ease into its effects.

7. Yogurt

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Foods that are rich in calcium will also help reduce the pain of cramps. You’ve now got your breakfast idea for the length of your period. You’re welcome.

8. Flaxseed

Flaxseed works just like salmon by providing the omega 3s you need to help stop those muscles from tensing up and ruining your entire day.

9. Kale

Green smoothie, anyone? Kale is one of the best plant-based sources of calcium that relieves the pain associated with your period.

10. Walnuts

Arnaud 25/Wikimedia Commons

Reach for a handful of walnuts for a great snack that’ll keep those omega 3s running through your body.

11. Peanut Butter

Forget a spoonful of sugar; hit a spoonful of peanut butter instead. Peanut butter is high in vitamin E — another magical vitamin that helps with inflammation and cramping.

12. Sunflower Seeds

Just like peanut butter, sunflower seeds have vitamin E in them. Plus, they are one of the most delicious snacks of all time, so go ahead and eat as many as you want.

Even if your cramps make you feel awful, you gotta eat during that first phase of your cycle. Making delicious choices can help you say buh-bye to those cramps and hello to a period free of pain.

This post was originally published on April 5, 2016. It was updated on June 20, 2019.

Finally, tofu is also high in magnesium. If you’re not a huge fan, try adding baked tofu to your salad in place of your usual protein.

9. Turmeric

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Turmeric can also potentially provide some relief. A lot of the pain that accompanies cramps is caused by inflammation, and there are few foods as great at battling inflammation as turmeric.

Add this beautiful yellow spice it to your rice, scrambled eggs, potatoes, whatever in order to reduce inflammation and, hopefully, pain.

10. Beans

Eskay Lim / EyeEm / Getty Images

Foods rich in thiamine can also be powerful period pain fighters. “One study has shown that 100mg per day of Thiamine can be helpful,” says Dr. McClellan. Some thiamin-rich options to consider eating during your period include legumes and pork.

11. Brown rice

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Brown rice packs a double punch for period cramps: It’s rich in magnesium and thiamine.

12. Fortified cereal

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You may want to stick to thiamin-fortified foods like breakfast cereals. The reason? “Cooking food rich in thiamine reduces the amount of bioavailable thiamine from that food source,” explains Dr. McClellan.

Foods to Avoid on Your Period

The golden rule when you’re dealing with cramps? “Avoid foods that can contribute to inflammation or cause GI upset like sugar, alcohol, soda and fried foods,” says Malone. If you’re sensitive to dairy, add that to the list as well.

Dr. McClellan also advises avoiding or at least minimize their alcohol and caffeine intake. That might mean replacing your morning latte with a small cup of green tea, which can effectively reduce some bloating (and potentially reduce cramping in the process). As for happy hour? You may want to skip it altogether.

At the end of the day, whether it’s cramps or any other ailment, it all comes down to balance. “It’s important to remember the overall pattern of the diet is more important than any single food that may provide relief,” says Malone.

You’ve experienced it: cramps running through your abdomen and it seeming like nothing will help. You’ve taken painkillers, you’ve applied heating pads, you’ve spent a whole day in bed watching Netflix.

However, have you ever stopped to think that what you eat during your period – and even the week before – could help your body deal with cramps and reduce other symptoms as well. Eating these ten foods in addition to other healthy choices can make a big difference.

1. Water

You hear it everywhere, but drinking enough water can solve so many problems on its own. Hydrating can prevent acne, keep away cramps, and can especially help with bloating. If you’re getting enough water, your body won’t retain liquids, keeping you comfortable.

2. Calcium

Getting some calcium in your diet can be a huge help in terms of cramping. However, you don’t want to get your calcium from dairy products, because they can actually trigger cramps. Other sources of calcium include almonds, sesame seeds, and leafy green vegetables. There are also supplements available, but make sure to consult your doctor before taking anything he or she has not recommended.

3. Dark chocolate

It’s not unusual to get cravings for chocolate while you’re on your period, but you want to make sure to choose a more healthy option. Dark chocolate will satisfy your craving, help relax your muscles, and keep you happier without consuming the fat and dairy in other types of chocolate.

4. Celery

This crispy, light vegetable is full of water and has zero calories. It will help with bloating and is just good for you overall. If you don’t like the taste, spread it with peanut butter or dip it into the next food on this list!

5. Hummus

Hummus can be a great complement to many of the vegetables you should be eating to quell the cramps. It’s made of chickpeas, which are not only good for you, but can help you sleep better and put you in a better mood. Eat it with celery, carrots, or some healthy wheat crackers.

6. Pineapple

This summery fruit helps your muscles relax, which will in turn reduce your cramps. It will also help with bloating and can even boost your mood, making you feel happier! You can eat it plain, drink it as a juice or in a smoothie, or grill it for a delicious treat.

7. Bananas

Have you ever heard that you should eat a banana after exercising to stop muscle cramps from settling in the next day? The same thing is true for menstrual cramps. Eat a banana before or during your cycle to avoid cramps and reduce bloating.

8. Tea

You should be avoiding caffeine during your period, since it can make you anxious and retain water, so kick that coffee addiction and replace it with tea. Different types of tea can help with different symptoms. For example, green tea can help with cramps, while peppermint tea can soothe an upset stomach.

9. Spinach and kale

Leafy green vegetables are a superfood and one of the things you should always have in your diet. During your period they can help with cramps and be a great source of the calcium you need, as mentioned above. If you hate the taste, try blending it into a smoothie with some fruit and almond milk.

10. Salmon

This delicious, flavorful fish is stock full of omega-3 and vitamin D, both of which help with PMS symptoms, so make sure you eat this the week before your period. It also has anti-inflammatory effects, keeping your cramps in check and reducing bloating. Add some teriyaki sauce and bon appetit!

When that time of the month comes along next, try some of these foods and see if they help. If you think there might be more problems during that time than just your average cramps, check out our blog post When Your Period Signals a Problem.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

7 Foods That Help Ease Period Cramps When Nothing Else Seems To Work

Menstrual cramps can be one of the most uncomfortable parts of getting your period. With such debilitating pain, it’s no wonder we look for any possible remedy, including foods that can help ease annoying period cramps. Eating the right foods can definitely soothe some PMS symptoms, so why not kill two birds with one stone and enjoy a good snack that can also help get rid of those uncomfortable uterine contractions?

Although eating certain foods can help alleviate symptoms, it’s good to note that longterm dietary adjustments are what best keep period pains at bay, and having a good, healthy diet overall can work to fight against frequent cramping. It’s best to include whole foods into the diet since they have a lot of nutrients that work together that help combat symptoms of your period such as cramps, bloating and loss of iron.

“High sodium levels can contribute to bloating and water retention, which can worsen menstrual pain and cause you to feel dehydrated,” Marci Clow, MS, RD tells Bustle over email. “Additionally, you may consider limiting caffeine, as it can add to breast tenderness, make you jittery, and contribute to water retention.”

Next time you’re suffering from some pretty nasty period cramps, try eating the below seven foods, which can help relieve menstrual pain.

1. Leafy Greens

“Leafy greens are always a good idea during your period,” says Clow. “They can help with cramps by contributing calcium, which is known to relieve muscle tension that triggers cramping.” Greens also absorb and eliminate prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds that can cause menstrual craps.

2. Fish

Full of omega-3 fatty acids, fish is another great food that helps reduce prostaglandins. Studies have also found that consuming fish oil is an effective treatment for treating severe menstrual pain.

“Many people know that bananas are loaded with potassium and are often recommended to help with muscle cramping and to reduce water retention,” says Clow. Bananas also contain vitamin B6, which helps with your immune response and nervous system functioning.

4. Celery

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Eating celery is a great way to keep hydrated on your period. It is used to treat menstrual discomfort and can also reduce fluid retention.

5. Pumpkin Seeds

“These foods are high in manganese, which aids in muscle relaxation and can help lessen the severity of cramping,” says Beth Warren, MS, RDN, CDN. Seeds are also high in zinc and vitamin E, which can help soothe your pain.

6. Ginger

“Ginger has been traditionally used in Chinese medicine for its wide range of health-promoting properties, including as a remedy for menstrual cramping,” says Clow. Studies have even found that ginger was as effective as ibuprofen for relieving painful periods.

7. Almonds

High in calcium and vitamin E, almonds are an excellent source of nutrients that help ease period pains. “Foods rich in magnesium, like nuts and legumes, can help regulate serotonin and help lift your mood,” says Clow. “Magnesium is also indicated for cramping and breast tenderness.”

Don’t let cramps ruin your day. Grab a snack, a hot water bottle, and drink some water, and hopefully you’ll be on your way to a much more pleasant day.

Images: edsel, usdagov, audiochick, keepon, jaxin, notafish, mynameisharsha/Flickr; Pexels

Picture this: You’re on your period, you’ve been experiencing cramps days before your period even started, you’re moody AF, and to top it off, all you want to do is eat everything in sight.

So what should you do when the first thing you want to reach for is that slice of pizza, cake, or donut? (We’re guilty of all of the above). We hate to be those people, but nutrition and eating healthy really is important, especially when you’re trying to combat menstrual cramps. Yes, your brain might believe that slice of junk will make you feel better, but in the end, it will only make you feel worse.

We’ve put together a handy little list that will help you ease menstrual cramps FAST.

Eat foods high in Magnesium

Did you know that magnesium helps reduce anxiety, along with sleeping problems, headaches, and PMS? It eases menstrual cramps by relaxing the uterine muscles in the uterus and reduces the prostaglandins that cause menstrual pain. To incorporate more magnesium into your diet, try eating cashews, soybeans, almonds, spinach, avocado, bananas, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate — THE LIST IS ENDLESS! Magnesium supplements are also a great option.

FATS – the healthy kind

Fatty acids are the precursors of hormones, aka their building blocks. This means that good fats make good hormones, and bad fat makes bad hormones. If your hormone balance is off the charts, take a look at the kind of fats you’re eating on a daily basis. Good fats can be derived from olive oil, avocados, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and salmon (of course, there are plenty more). Salmon also contains vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and iron, which also contributes to alleviating menstrual pain.

Vitamin E

Two words: anti-inflammatory. Vitamin E balances your hormones and can limit the amount of blood you lose, meaning it might make your heavy flow well…not as heavy. Sunflower seeds, broccoli, spinach, almonds (we’re seeing a trend here…), Brazil nuts, asparagus, hazelnuts, and leafy greens are all foods high in vitamin E that would be great to eat during your period.


Not only is zinc an important nutrient for our health (it helps keeps your skin, hair, teeth, bones, immune system, muscles, and brain, healthy!), research has shown that zinc can help reduce PMS symptoms and cramps, how amazing is that? There’s a funny correlation that shows our zinc levels are low right before our periods – meaning PMS is at its peak! To add more zinc into your life, eat foods such as shellfish, beef, pork, and chicken. However, if you eat a plant-based diet, it’s harder to absorb the zinc from plants, so a good alternative would be zinc supplements!


Stay hydrated! Drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day will help reduce bloating. While you’re at it, stay away from sugary and salty foods/drinks during your period.

Want to know more ways to ease your period cramps? We have six easy tips you can follow to make your period a little more bearable.

Best Foods For Beating Muscle Cramps

You may think muscle cramps are a product of exercise and movement. As it turns out, your diet also has an effect on your muscles — and eating the right things can make those pesky cramps go away. With help from WebMD, we take a look at 15 foods that help beat muscle cramps. (The miracle food on page 10 will surprise you.)

1. Bananas

Banana bunch | ValentynVolkov/ iStock/ Getty Images

Of all the foods on this list, you’ve probably heard bananas mentioned the most when it comes to muscles cramps. That’s because this this fruit is packed with potassium, magnesium, and calcium — essentials for giving you cramp relief.

Next: Super food …

2. Avocado

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You already know avocados contain omega-3 fatty acids that are a good addition to your diet. But they also contain a ton of potassium — even more than bananas! — so slicing one up for your sandwich or adding it to your salad is always a good choice.

Next: Some serious nutrients …

3. Sweet potato

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According to WebMD, sweet potatoes actually contain three times the amount of potassium, magnesium, and calcium that bananas do. Plus, potatoes in general are packed with water, and hydration aids muscles cramps along. (More on that a little later.)

Next: Your new favorite exercise aid …

4. Melon

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WebMD likes this fruit not just for the nutrients it’s packed with. Melons are full of water and a little bit of sodium, which your body becomes depleted of when you work out — and are prone to muscle cramps. The recommend eating cantaloupe after a workout to replenish your body.

Next: Speaking of super fruits …

5. Watermelon

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While watermelon doesn’t have the same nutrient punch that cantaloupe does, it’s full of water to help keep our body hydrated. tells us watermelon also contains an amino acid called L-Citrulline which can “help minimize your post-workout pain .”

Next: Learn to love legumes …

6. Lentils

Buddha bowl with lentils | nito100/ iStock/ Getty Images

Lentils are already great for your diet because they contain fiber to help keep you full, but that same nutrient is also great for relieving cramps. Plus, just one cup of cooked lentils is packed with 71 milligrams of cramp-fighting magnesium, WebMD tells us. Yes, lentils can even help with menstrual cramps.

Next: It really does do a body good …

7. Milk

Two bottles of fresh milk with blue straws | Dash_med/ iStock/ Getty Images

You may not think of grabbing a glass of milk after a workout, but your muscles will thank you for it. In addition to containing calcium and potassium, milk has protein to repair muscles after exercise. Yogurt and cheese are also good bets to help your muscles, says.

Next: A fresh glass …

8. Orange juice

Pouring a glass of orange juice creating splash | Proformabooks/ iStock/ Getty Images

Drinking a glass of orange juice doesn’t just give you a ton of calcium, WebMD also calls it “a potassium star with nearly 500 milligrams per cup.” If your muscles are particularly sore in the morning, drinking a cup of this stuff is good addition to your morning routine.

Next: A plate of goodness …

9. Dark, leafy greens

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WebMD is a big fan of loading up on dark, leafy greens because “adding kale, spinach, or broccoli to your plate may help prevent muscle cramps. These foods are particularly good for menstrual cramps, so loading up on salads is a good bet to ease period pain.

Next: This one will surprise you …

10. Pickle juice

Pickle jar | fordeno/ iStock/ Getty Images

Pickle juice has become a popular go-to for runners and other athletes over the years. However it isn’t entirely clear what it is about pickle juice that makes it so effective. In fact, its muscle-healing abilities are believed by many to be a placebo effect.

Next: Snack food for your muscles …

11. Nuts

Mixed nuts with dried fruit | Vovchyn Taras/ iStock/ Getty Images

Like with lentils, these legumes are packed with cramp-blasting nutrients like potassium and magnesium. Nuts are also a good meal to eat on the go, so carrying a little pack of peanuts or almonds with you can help you combat muscle cramps any time of the day. Just try not to choose one that’s too heavily salted.

Next: Meal of champions …

12. Salmon

Salmon with vegetables | gbh007/ iStock/ Getty Images

WebMD explains: “Sometimes muscle cramps are the result of poor blood flow. Eating oily fish like salmon can help improve it.” It doesn’t hurt that three ounces of cooked salmon contains about 326 milligrams of potassium. They say trout and sardines are also a good bet.

Next: Food for healthy, happy stems …

13. Tomato juice

Tomato juice | bhofack2/ iStock/ Getty Images

Tomato juice is a popular pick across the board for easing muscle cramps in the legs. Reader’s Digest adds that a daily glass of tomato juice — and a couple other foods on our list, for that matter — “can help banish leg cramps and prevent their recurrence.”

Next: A good addition to any meal …

14. Beans

various beans | Diana Taliun/ iStock/ Getty Images

Skip the fat-loaded refried beans and stick with a cup of cooked black beans, which contains 120 milligrams of cramp-busting magnesium. They can be added to salads or as a side in just about any meal.

Next: Last but not least …

15. Water

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If you only take one thing away from our list, it’s that staying hydrated is one of the best ways to fight muscle cramps. “Fluid comes into play here because fluid helps muscles contract and relax and also keep muscle cells hydrated,” APEC Water tells us. “If there is an inadequate water supply, muscles will not work as good as they should, causing strain– and then the cramps.” So drink up! Your muscles will thank you later.

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Food that help cramps

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