Biology junior Catherine Carranza said growing up as an athlete helped her get used to working out while on her period.
“I’ve kind of just learned to live with it,” Carranza said.
Family nurse practitioner Regina Humphrey said working out while on your period has many benefits, including ridding yourself of the “premenstrual blues” and elevating your mood.
Exercising reduces menstrual depression by increasing the production of endorphins, the natural “feel-good” chemicals that can act as a pain reliever and mood booster. Humphrey said the increase in oxygen flow can also lighten the pain from cramping.
Public relations senior Maris Izquierdo said she generally works out two to three times a week, and working out is what helps her survive her period.
Izquierdo said she experiences severe menstrual cramps that leave her wanting to stay in bed.
“I feel really sluggish, I feel bloated,” she said. “I just feel nasty.”
Knowing her busy schedule, Izquierdo said she can’t afford to let her period keep her bedridden.
Humphrey said women tend to have the heaviest flow during the first few days of their period, which may lead to fatigue. Therefore, women shouldn’t exercise as rigorously and avoid cardio workouts during that time because it may increase a woman’s flow, she said.
Carranza said she works out about five times a week and doesn’t change that habit during her period unless her menstrual cramps are too intense. During the first few days of her period, she said she feels low in energy, so finding the motivation to go to the gym is key.
“Being in constant motion, just kinda keeping busy, just helps not think about the discomfort,” she said. “Working out kind of takes that away in the sense that I’m not really thinking about it, and I’m not just sitting and being lazy.”
Humphrey said many women won’t work out during their period because they worry about leaking. However, wearing appropriate protection will maximize comfort.
Although the choice between tampon or pad is a personal one, Humphrey advises changing them midworkout. The mixture of blood and sweat can potentially lead to genital infections, she said.
Another thing to be mindful of is menstruation fluctuation, she said. Working out can lead to irregular periods, but it’s nothing to be concerned with.
Carranza said the frequency of her periods fluctuates constantly depending on the intensity of her workouts that month. Sometimes she said she will skip a month and sometimes she will experience two periods in the same month.
“The biggest thing would be pushing through the discomfort because it can suck,” Carranza said. “Working out really is beneficial to people’s health in general, so it’s definitely worth it.”
Feeling energized after the workout is worth any discomfort felt during it, she said.
Izquierdo said she’s not a fan of taking medicine as a means of killing the pain, so she heads to the gym to cope with her cramps. Even running on her elliptical machine for 30 minutes eliminates her cramps for the day, she said.
“Take the day by the horns. Definitely working out is gonna jump-start whatever you need to do for the week,” Izquierdo said. “Don’t let a whole week just put you down.”