Period cramps happen when levels of the chemicals, prostaglandins rise, causing uterine contractions, inflammation, and pain.
Your uterus contracts to help expel its lining during your period, and hormone-like substances, called prostaglandins, which are involved in pain and inflammation, trigger the uterine muscle contractions.
Higher levels of prostaglandins are therefore associated with more severe menstrual cramps, and for some women, their cramps might even interfere with their daily activities.
About three-quarter of women experience menstrual pains, and every one-tenth experiences severe cramps.
Dietary changes, medication, acupuncture, and exercise may all help relieve menstrual cramps.
Doctors are not sure why some women experience painful menstruation, but some factors that are associated with more intense pain include:
- having a heavy blood flow
- just starting your period
- having your first baby
- being under the age of 20
- having an overproduction of prostaglandins
- Growths in your womb (abnormal uterine tissue growth), and
- Use of birth control.
For mild to temporary cramps, some home remedies can help provide relief.
5 Great Ways to Relieve Period Cramps
Taking Over-The-Counter Medications
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that include ibuprofen and naproxen (Aleve) are the primary over-the-counter form of pain relief recommended for menstrual pain and heavy menstrual bleeding.
These drugs help lower your body’s production of prostaglandin and can help reduce pain.
Applying heat to your abdomen and lower back may relieve pain, as supported by a 2012 study focused on women 18 to 30 years old who had regular menstrual cycles. The result found that a heat patch at 104°F (40°C) was as effective as ibuprofen.
If you don’t have a heat patch or heating pad, take a warm bath or use a hot towel. Heat helps to relax the contracting muscles in your uterus, which is the cause for your pain.
There are many over-the-counter heating patches and pads, such as ThermaCare, Bengay, etc
Some Herbal Tea
Certain teas may help relieve menstrual cramps. Research on herbal teas for menstrual pain relief is scarce, but teas have been used traditionally and can help.
One example of an herbal tea that people use for menstrual discomfort is cramp bark.
- Boil 2 teaspoons of the bark in a cup of water,
- simmer for about 15 minutes, and
- Drink it three times a day.
Be sure to clear this remedy with your medical doctor first, especially if you’re on diuretics for blood pressure.
Massaging With Essential Oils
Massage therapy for about 20 minutes can help reduce menstrual pain, a study suggested. The researchers found that massage therapy for menstruation, which involves pressing specific points while the therapist’s hands move around your abdomen, side, and back, significantly reduced pain immediately and afterward.
Adding essential oils for an aromatherapy style of massage may have additional benefits, and you may experience a significant reduction in the amount and duration of pain.
The researchers used a blend of lavender, clary sage, and marjoram oil in this study.
Exercise or Orgasms
Endorphins can also boost your mood, in addition to their pain-relieving effect. Having an orgasm, as well as working out releases endorphins. The last thing you may want to think about while in the midst of cramps is exercise, but physical activity can boost endorphins and help chase away the pain.
A report published in the Journal of Family Reproductive Health indicates that both aerobic exercise and stretching helped soothe period cramps.
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Food To Avoid During Menstruation
During your menstruation period, it’s a good idea to avoid foods that cause bloating and water retention. Such foods include:
- salty foods
- fatty foods
- carbonated beverages, and
Reducing or cutting out these foods can help alleviate cramps and decrease tension. Try soothing ginger or mint teas or hot water flavored with lemon, and you can also snack on fruits like strawberries or raspberries if you need a sugar fix.