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“Talking to my patients and understanding their level of stress is the first step in identifying how stress may interfere with their normal menstrual cycle, PMS symptoms and, overall reproductive health,” explains Ross, who recommends making a telehealth appointment or visiting a health care provider if symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or irritability, continue after your period begins. “Don’t ever be afraid to see your health care provider for support and treatment options—especially during the COVID pandemic, you have to be your best health care advocate,” says Ross. To help her patients navigate their menstrual cycles, Shepherd recommends they keep a menstrual log, tracking things such as pain and cravings. “Menstrual logs are important to help track the changes and also being open to conversation with your doctor about the changes,” says Shepherd. You can keep notes manually with a notebook, or use one of the many period-tracking apps such as Clue, Flo, or Period Tracker, to log your data. There are simple lifestyle changes that allow you to destress and become your healthiest self, keeping your mind, body and period in check,” says Ross. Three pillars of staying healthy always, but especially during a period, are staying hydrated, eating mindfully, and getting enough sleep. To that end, Ross recommends drinking as much water as possible, at least 8 to 10 12 oz. glasses of water, and eating water-based foods (such as berries, celery, and cucumber) to help minimize water retention and bloating. Additionally, drinking warm or hot water has been found to relax the uterine muscles, so Ross recommends comforting hot tonics such as ginger and green tea.  In terms of diet, avoid foods that are “classic causes of bloating” including beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and foods high in sodium. Instead, eat fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and brown rice, to prevent bloating. Natural diuretics—think: celery, cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes, asparagus, lemon juice, and garlic—can help reduce bloating and swelling. In the same spirit, avoid unhealthy comforting coping mechanisms. “Overeating foods, drinking alcohol, smoking weed and cigarettes are unhealthy in your efforts to keep your menstrual cycle regular and your hormones balanced,” says Ross.

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