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Conquering Menstrual Pain: a Guide to Acing Exams Despite Period Cramps

Student Life

March 10, 2023

Each of us knows the stress exams bring with them. The constant pressure, the sudden procrastination creeping up on us, and the inevitable need for caffeine. Combine exam stress with period cramps and it's a hellish experience.

Trust me, I know. Period cramps and exam stress are barely tolerable separately and, together, they leave you feeling helpless. But, it's nothing you can't get over. With some advice, you'll be dealing with those cramps as well as acing those papers in no time.

Before exams:

1. Plan Ahead

For those who've been blessed with regular periods, you should ideally plan ahead. For those of you with irregular ones, know to plan ahead. Revising tends to be difficult while experiencing cramps.

Revise earlier for exams syncing with your cycle. Minimize the burden of revision and learning from your back for those days, because no matter what, revising with cramps is always less productive than in normal circumstances. You can never anticipate the pain and laziness you feel during your period, so it's best to keep the workload minimal.

2. Drink tons of water

If you're dealing with severe period cramps, water helps a great deal. Drinking water throughout your study sessions is critical. While you're on your period, water helps with the bloating, which tends to make cramps worse.

While drinking more water may not take away your cramps completely, it will alleviate your pain enough to focus on your work more than the pain. Drink at least 9-10 cups of water to ease the pain and keep hot water around you too. Not only does it increase blood flow, it is also known to lessen stress.

Avoid colas and any carbonated or aerated drinks, though. They have high levels of sugar and may cause inflammation and cause your cramps to become more severe.

3. Pain relief & medication

Heating pads help a great deal to soothe your period pain. The heating pads help promote blood flow and deliver that much-needed oxygen to your abdominal muscles. Heating pads act as a natural way to relieve pain and pressure and thus help reduce the pain of your cramps.

While these pads are a pragmatic solution for everyone, medications don't always work for everyone. Ibuprofen, Meftal, and Paracetamol work best for most of us, but if they don't for you, consult a doctor to speak about any other options. Take the meds at regular doses starting the day before you expect your period to begin and can help control the pain of cramps.

4. Control your Diet

During our period, all of us tend to have weird, comfy cravings - ramen, chocolate, pickles and so many more - and for some reason, at weird times of the day AND night. It's impossible to ignore these cravings and you shouldn't - to an extent. Eat enough of these foods to comfort you in times of pain, but not so much that they start to have an adverse effect on you.

Avoid eating excess of these foods (its tough, I know) and eat a quick salad or some fruit instead. For your liquid options, have some kombucha or herbal tea of your choice. Some warm tea will soothe the pain like no other.

5. Exercise

A light workout routine, maybe some yoga, during your breaks will work wonders for your cramps. The exercise taps into your endorphins and makes your mood better almost immediately. Avoid any intense endurance exercises and do some low-volume strength training and power-based activities. Yoga and Pilates will not even leave you tired, you'll still have enough motivation and energy to continue your study sessions with the same productivity.

During the Exam:

6. Let your Invigilator know

Speak to your invigilator/supervisor before the exam so that they know that you're on your period and you may need to change your pad or tampon. Let them know that you may experience discomfort during the exam and may need to use the bathroom at certain times. Most invigilators should understand this too. Invigilators tend to go a little easy on any student with periods, so just notify them before to avoid any miscommunication during the exam.

7. Carry extra of everything

Stock up on as many pads or tampons as you can in case of any emergency. Carry an extra bottle of water so you can help ease the pain. Keep sipping some before and during your exam, for some much-needed relief. Take some small, healthy foods to munch on in between breaks or two exams.

And most importantly ...

8. Don't Lose Hope and don't stress

There's nothing you can't get over, including this. It's a hard experience but once you're done with it, the feeling of relief is going to be worth it. Don't stress about the pain or the exam, just focus on studying and pain-relieving and you will always end up okay. You can ace this and all the very best!

Aarohi Godha
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Writer since Feb, 2023 · 4 published articles

Aarohi is an 11th grade IBDP student from India. She enjoys ballet, reading, writing and is a cat lover. Aarohi is intrigued by anything about high fashion, academia, books, pop culture, music and love.