When you see advertisements where a girl is happily hopping on her period, ready to take on the mountains and carrying out Herculean tasks that she does not do even on normal days, does it anger you? We don’t know about you, but this definitely annoys us. This is not at all how periods make us feel; if anything, they make us feel the opposite—tired, moody, fighting fatigue and enduring cramps. Talking about enduring cramps, how many of you have to do it every time you have your period? Every month when your period appears, cramps tag along, worsening the situation. For all you women reading this and nodding, we feel you. Stay with us, and read along as we discuss cramps, why they happen and some effective period cramps remedies.
- What Causes Menstrual Cramps?
- Why Are Period Cramps Painful?
- Home Remedies for Period Cramps
- When To See A Doctor?
What Causes Menstrual Cramps?
When menstruating, it is common to feel discomfort around your abdomen, lower back and thighs. This happens because during your periods, the muscles of your womb contract and relax to shed the built-up lining. Thus, when these muscles are at work, you may experience cramps.
Why Are Period Cramps Painful?
Doctors are unable to figure out why some women experience painful menstruation and others do not. Some factors that may be linked to intense pain include:
- being under the age of 20 or just starting your period
- having a heavy blood flow
- having your first child
- endometriosis (abnormal uterine tissue growth)
- use of birth control
Home Remedies for Period Cramps
Most of the time, mild to temporary cramps can be treated by home remedies. Read on for tips on getting relief and learn some safe and effective period cramps remedies to reduce the pain during your next cycle.
1. Massage with essential oils
Massaging your skin with aromatic essential oils is a great period cramp remedy to relieve pain. According to a study conducted in 2012, women who were given a cream with essential oils for cramp relief experienced a significant reduction in pain as compared to those who were given a cream with just a synthetic fragrance. Massage therapy for menstruation involves pressing specific points on your abdomen, sides and back.
Always dilute your essential oil with carrier oil; the ratio should be one drop of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil.
2. Try yoga poses
While the idea of exercising during your period may not sound appealing, it releases endorphins, which are effective at reducing menstrual pain. Yoga is a gentle exercise that works as an effective period cramp remedy. Some yoga poses you should try for cramp relief are: baddha konasana, balasana, bharadvaja, and viparita karani. Refrain from doing inverted poses, as they may interfere with your natural flow.
3. Avoid certain foods
When menstruating, avoid foods that cause bloating and water retention. Reducing consumption of such foods works as a great period cramp remedy. Here are some foods that you should avoid:
- Fatty foods
- Salty foods
- Carbonated beverages
Cutting down on consumption of these foods and beverages may be difficult, but if that does not work, try reducing their intake at least. You can also replace them with alternatives. Sip on ginger and lemon teas instead of coffee. Snack on fruits such as strawberries or raspberries instead of reaching out for junk snacks.
4. Use a heating pad
The uterus is a muscle, so calm it down as you would calm other muscles – by applying heat. Using a heating pad or a hot water bottle is a helpful period cramp remedy, and research backs this claim too. It helps relieve the pain caused by cramps. If you do not have a heating pad, you can use a hot towel. If you wish, you can also make your own heating pad:
- Cut and sew two pieces of fabric, leaving a hole at the top.
- Fill it with uncooked rice and sew the hole.
- Microwave this for a few minutes until it is warm.
- Let it cool, if necessary. Alternatively, wrap this homemade pad in a towel to reduce heat transfer. Reuse as required.
5. Consume herbal teas
Herbal teas are not only soothing and calming, but also an effective period cramp remedy. According to nutritionists, certain herbal teas may help relieve menstrual cramps, though research on the same is scarce. For menstrual pain, chamomile and peppermint teas are recommended.
6. Make changes in your diet
Making changes in your diet is a long-term solution for menstrual cramps. One nutrient that can help ease period cramps is magnesium. It is found in several foods such as:
- black beans
- peanut butter
- pumpkin seeds
Add these in your regular diet.
You can also swap out less healthy fats like the saturated fats found in animal products for healthier ones like unsaturated fats found in olive oil.
Also, try to add these foods in your diet for their nutritional value:
- Papaya for its abundant vitamins
- Brown rice for its content of vitamin B6, which reduces bloating
- Olive oil and broccoli for vitamin E
- Chicken, fish, and leafy green vegetables for their iron content. Consuming these is imperative as we tend to lose a lot of iron during menstruation
- Flaxseeds for omega-3 fatty acids which have antioxidant properties and in turn, lessen swelling and inflammation
7. Try acupuncture
Acupuncture is also of great help in relieving cramps. This ancient healing method relaxes the nervous system, thus allowing more blood to flow to internal organs, subduing inflammation.
When To See A Doctor?
While these home remedies are effective period cramp remedies, if they are not helpful for you, then you must consider seeing a doctor. Symptoms that may deserve a visit to the doctor include:
- heavy bleeding
- severe pain or discomfort that interfere with your day-to-day activities
- cramps that get worse with age
- over-the-counter medication doesn’t work
A doctor can suggest other home remedies to try or prescribe medications to manage the symptoms. Sometimes, these symptoms could be an indication for an underlying condition, for which a doctor will be able to suggest an effective treatment.