Period pain is common. During menstruation, women experience pain (dysmenorrhea) for one to two days. While some women have general discomfort or headaches, the cause of the pain is mostly menstrual cramps.
Menstrual pain occurs when the uterus contracts to shed its uterine lining. It can result in pain in your upper thighs, groin, lower back, or stomach. Before we look into the different ways that help stop period cramps, let us understand what might be causing the pain.
Causes of Period Pain
There are many causes of period pain, and if your pain is intense and extremely discomforting, it is natural for you to wonder why. You could be the only female in your family suffering from severe cramps. Some women don’t have painful periods in the beginning, but as they age, the pain begins to worsen.
Depending on your symptoms, a doctor can help you understand the cause of painful cramps every month. Premenstrual syndrome, fibroids, endometriosis, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, and adenomyosis are some conditions that can make your periods painful.
13 ways to tackle period pain
It may not be easy for you to deal with menstrual pain every month. Fortunately, some remedies can help you find relief. If you are suffering from a chronic condition, these things might not always work, but they do offer relief for mild to moderate period cramps.
- Keep yourself hydrated
Menstrual pain worsens with the discomfort caused by bloating. Increasing your water intake can reduce bloating during your monthly cycle and alleviate the associated pain. Moreover, drinking lukewarm or hot water can relax the muscles and improve blood circulation throughout the body. Drinking more water also reduces cramps arising from uterine contractions.
- Drink herbal teas
Some herbal teas contain antispasmodic compounds that lessen muscle spasms in the uterus, thereby reducing cramps. They also have anti-inflammatory properties. You can take a few cups of fennel, ginger, or chamomile tea for relief from menstrual cramps. Moreover, herbal teas help with insomnia and stress relief, making it easier for you to relax your mind and gain some quality sleep.
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods
Anti-inflammatory foods are a natural remedy for cramp relief. They taste good, promote blood circulation, and relax the muscles of your uterus. These foods include pineapples, tomatoes, berries and spices like garlic, ginger, and turmeric. You can also eat almonds, walnuts, leafy green vegetables, and fatty fish since they help reduce inflammation.
- Stay away from the treats.
It may sound exciting to binge on french fries, aerated drinks, or a brownie. However, foods high in salt, trans fat, and sugar can result in inflammation and bloating, which worsens muscle pain and cramps. Fight the sugar cravings by eating a banana or another piece of fruit. Similarly, if you want something savoury, eat unsalted nuts.
- Skip the coffee
Caffeine narrows your blood vessels. This can constrict your uterus, resulting in more painful cramps. If it is difficult for you to stay without coffee, opt for the decaf variant during your period. Alternatively, take a quick 10-minute walk or grab a high-protein snack to beat the afternoon slump.
- Try dietary supplements
Dietary supplements like vitamin E, magnesium, and omega-3 help reduce inflammation. As a result, they can reduce the severity of your menstrual cramps. The intake of vitamin D helps absorb calcium and reduce inflammation. It is advisable that you take these supplements every day and not only during your period. Since supplements interact with other medications, you must consult your doctor before starting.
- Apply heat
Heat helps in relaxing the body’s muscles, promotes blood circulation, and relieves tension. You can place a hot water bottle or heating pad on your abdomen. A hot shower or a relaxing hot bath also helps.
Most women don’t think about exercise when they experience period cramps. However, gentle exercise helps in releasing endorphins that relax your muscles, reduce pain, and make you feel happy. You can indulge in light stretching or yogic asanas for 15 minutes to gain the physical and mental benefits of exercise. A brisk walk can also help.
- Try massage therapy
Massage therapy can significantly reduce period pain in women with endometriosis. The therapy helps in relaxing the uterus and reducing uterine spasms. Make sure you focus on the abdominal area for effective period cramp relief. A full body massage reduces overall stress and helps in relieving menstrual pain.
- Manage stress
Stress can worsen cramps. With the help of stress-relieving techniques like deep breathing, yoga, or meditation, you can reduce overall stress. A relaxed mind helps in relaxing the body’s muscles and improving blood circulation. Guided imagery is also an effective stress-relieving activity. To practice the same, sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and imagine yourself in a safe place that’s significant to you. Take slow, deep breaths and focus on this place for a few minutes.
- Take over-the-counter medications
The cause of muscle contractions and pain in many cases is the hormone prostaglandin. Anti-inflammatory medicines reduce the amount of prostaglandins in your body and provide fast-acting relief. For best results, you must take painkillers or OTC medicines after you start feeling cramps.
- Wear a pain-relieving device
A period pain-relieving device depends on scientifically proven and safe TENS technology. It stimulates nerves to block pain signals from being sent to the brain. It also promotes the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-relieving hormones, and elevates overall mood. It does not have any side effects, making it the ideal product to use for years.
- Try alternative medicine
Acupuncture, acupressure, and other alternative medicine practices have helped many women stop period cramps. The practice of acupuncture relies on the insertion of needles to stimulate the body. Acupressure does not use needles but applies pressure on specific body parts. These practices focus on relaxing muscle tension and improving blood flow throughout the body.
There are many ways by which you can reduce menstrual pain. You will need to try the different remedies to understand which one works best for your body. However, if you are unable to get relief, consult a doctor. You may need to treat an underlying condition like endometriosis or uterine fibroids before you can get relief from period cramps.