Let’s talk about periods for a second. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a woman who actually enjoys her time of the month. It’s no wonder we collectively spend billions of dollars on pain relief products like ibuprofen and heating pads to deal with cramps. And although we certainly don’t object to either of those things (or, frankly, anything that helps you feel a little better), it’s also important to keep things healthy and fresh below the equator, too. You’ve probably heard the phrase “pH balance” used by gynecologists and other healthy experts, and for good reason.
PH refers to the balance of acidic and alkaline molecules in a specified area, and is measured on a scale 0-14. The lower the number, the more acidic it is. A healthy vagina generally tends to fall somewhere between 3 and 5, but that number can easily be affected by outside elements, like your diet or products that haven’t been formulated to work with your vagina’s natural temperature (like bar soap and scented cleansers).
So, when you’re menstruating, when many are blinded by painful cramps and chocolate cravings, we should be taking extra special care of our nether regions. But that doesn’t mean it should feel like work. Ahead, we’ve gathered 9 safe and affordable products (heating pads included) that will make your period a little easier and more comfortable.
Summer's Eve Cleansing Cloths for Sensitive Skin
Toilet paper is great, but not very comforting when you're on your period. A cleansing wipe made with safe ingredients is an option when you want to feel fresh and neutralize odor. The Summer's Eve lineup is dermatologist-tested and alcohol-free, ensuring you don't have to worry about dryness or irritation.
Summer's Eve Cleansing Cloths for Sensitive Skin, $3.69; at CVS
Life Energy Heat Therapy Healing Jade Mat
Consider yourself lucky if you don't experience cramps during your period. But if you do, a heating pad is the equivalent of warm blanket on a cold winter day. And although we love the cute, microwavable ones sold on Etsy, we need something with a little more muscle. Enter this body-sized pad, which includes an auto shut-off feature, so you don't have to worry about potential skin irritation.
Life Energy Heat Therapy Healing Jade Mat, $149.95; at Amazon
ThermaCare Heat Wraps
On the other hand, you'd look kind of silly carrying a super-sized heating pad into work or on the subway. When cramps are giving you hell, but you still have places to be, these mini wraps attach to your pants or underwear for relief on-the-go.
ThermaCare Heat Wraps, $5.99; at Walgreens
Olly Nutrition 'Goodbye Stress' Supplements
For some of us, periods induce both physical and mental anxiety. So when a good night's sleep or Advil don't work, feed your body the calm it needs. These innovative supplements are made with a unique mix of ingredients that you'll want to keep at your work desk. They include the soothing botanical lemon balm, gaba and L-Theanine, two of which boost the alpha brain waves that promote relaxation.
Olly Nutrition 'Goodbye Stress' Supplements, $13.99; at Olly Nutrition
Sustain Natural PostPlay Wipes
Keep these wipes on your nightstand for post-coital care, because let's be real—sex is one of the best ways to distract from period pain or stress. They're are free of porential irritants (fragrance, alcohol, chlorine, paraben, glycerin, formaldehyde) and will clean up your nether regions without disrupting the vagina's natural pH balance.
Sustain Natural PostPlay Wipes, $10.99; at Sustain Natural
SweetSpot Labs Neroli Mandarin Gentle Feminine Wash
Bar soaps and scented body washes are a nightmare for the vagina because they're made with harsh ingredients that throw its natural temperature (pH) out of balance. This in turn, can trigger yeast infections and other bacterial issues. SweetSpot's mostly natural cleansers are made with PH-balancing ingredients that have been tested by both dermatologists and gynecologists. The best part? You can use it all over the body and not just below the belt.
SweetSpot Labs Neroli Mandarin Gentle Feminine Wash, $7.99; at SweetSpot Labs
Thinx Period Panties
The safety of traditional pads and tampons have been challenged in recent years, leading to an influx of organic alternatives that promise not to harm your insides. And for those who aren't into pads or tampons period, blood-proof undies are on the come-up. They're not for everyone, but definitely worth looking into if you want a different type of coverage.
Thinx Period Panties, $24-$39; at Thinx
Animosa Go With Your Flow Pack
There's nothing worse than forgetting protection while traveling. This "adventure menstrual kit" includes a storage pocket filled with must-haves (tampons, pads, wipes) and a discreet disposal system for used products. When there isn't a trash can in sight, this mini bag is a godsend.
Animosa Go With Your Flow Pack, $24; at Animosa
New Freshness Deodorant Spray
While we're certainly not telling any woman that she should stress about her natural scent, pads and tampons in combination with an active lifestyle can mean a spike in B.O. during your period. A deodorant spray will keep things neutral; just be sure it's made with safe ingredients or hypo-allergenic, like this one.
New Freshness Deodorant Spray, $2.73; at Walmart