All women know how uncomfortable those days of menstruations are during the fertile age. That’s why it would be so helpful to learn how to get some period pain relief.
Unless you are one of those with painless periods, this article is for you.
Menstrual pain is, indeed, a physical and psychological discomfort. So annoying that it often compromises the normal daily activities.
Dysmenorrhea (the painful period cramps) does not coincide exactly with a menstrual cycle.
The typical symptoms are:
- Abdominal pain
- Back pain
- Breast tenderness
and can start also a few days before menstruation (premenstrual syndrome).
Do’s and Don’ts for Period Pain Relief
There are several good tips to relieve period pain, and some of them are going to tell you what not to do as well.
Let’s start with what you can or should do to make those few days of the month less annoying.
- Relax and keep stress levels down: anxiety and concern can aggravate menstrual symptoms.
- Apply a hot water bag on the tummy: the heat can lower pain and relax abdominal muscles, relieving period cramps.
- Have a warm bath: it can relieve menstrual pain, abdominal pain as well as relax.
- Have smaller meals, more frequently.
- If necessary, supplement you diet with vitamins and minerals (calcium, magnesium, and potassium). In some women, calcium supplementation seems to prevent period cramps.
- Exercise regularly: sport is also a very effective remedy for mood.
- Do yoga, pilates or other forms of relaxation to benefit body and mind.
- In some women, acupuncture is one of the preferred home remedies for period cramps.
- Drink warm liquids: broth, milk, decaf tea etc.
- Learn some breathing and meditation techniques: helpful to decrease the sense of anxiety and irritability that characterizes menstruations (another form of period pain).
- Massage the lower abdomen to get some immediate period pain relief.
- Lose weight (if overweight or obese)
- Engage in aerobic sports such as swimming, to increase the serotonin and dopamine levels in the body.
- Watch your diet: prefer whole grains (pasta, rice, bread) and those foods rich in fiber (lentils, chickpeas, beans).
To get some relief from period cramps there are also some tips about what to avoid, at least not to worsen the symptoms.
- Don’t wear tight clothes (pants especially) or tight belts: it’s obviously going to increase abdominal pain due to period cramps.
- Don’t drink alcohol: it can increase the bloating feeling that is already remarkable during menstruation.
- Avoid caffeine and beverages that contain it: coffee, Coke, Pepsi, tea…
- Don’t take diuretics (unless advised by a doctor): these drugs can cause the excretion of water and minerals.
- Depression, anxiety and stress enhance menstrual pain: if very little is possible to avoid depression, at least avoid stress and situations that can cause you anxiety.
- Avoid sedentary lifestyle: we have already seen that it’s important to do a regular physical activity to relieve period pain.
- Don’t insert tampons too frequently during menstruation. Frequent use of tampons can accentuate pain and discomfort, and local irritation. It’s better to alternate the use of tampons and pads.
- Don’t stand for a long time: take a seat sometimes, and lay down.
- Some women experience increased hunger during the period: try to avoid stuffing your stomach, keep hunger under control or it’s going to be really hard to get some menstrual pain relief.
Foods to Help Period Pain
Of course, you should also follow some diet advice if you want to increase your chances of getting more period pain relief.
What to Eat on Your Period
- The general advice is to have a healthy and balanced diet, especially during period days. Prefer foods that are easy to digest.
- Eat foods that are rich in Omega-3: salmon, bluefish, fish oil, flax seeds.
- Supplement with vitamin B6 and magnesium, important elements for the synthesis of serotonin.
- Eat cereals, legumes, potatoes to promote bowel movements and reduce abdominal cramps.
- Eat foods rich in iron, such as oats, muesli, lentils and bran, always together with vitamin C which allows the absorption of iron.
What to Avoid
- Avoid foods rich in sugar (sweets), salt and fat: these foods enhance the bloating feeling, typical of dysmenorrhea.
- Avoid foods and beverages that contain caffeine: limit the use of coffee, tea, chocolate etc. when you have your period. Caffeine is a stimulant, therefore foods that contain it can increase the discomfort during the menstrual pain week (caffeine can cause tachycardia, hypertension, nervousness, and tremors).
- Avoid chocolate and sweets particularly during the afternoon.
Treat Cramps Naturally or with Drugs
There are always times when we need to take some drugs, like when the natural remedies don’t work or when we need immediate period pain relief.
We are talking about actual period cramps treatment, that may involve medications:
- Drink chamomile: it has known relaxing, anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties (natural way of relieving period pain).
- Ginger: it helps reduce nausea, which can be caused by intense menstrual pain.
- Supplement with magnesium, omega-3, vitamin E, zinc and vitamin B1
- Take NSAIDs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: ibuprofen is the best example.
- Last case scenario, taking estrogen and progestin hormones will reduce the intensity of menstrual cramps.
Prevent Period Cramps
I’d like to drop a few lines and talk about period cramps prevention.
There are, in fact, a few general tips that can help make the period cramps less painful:
- Exercise regularly
- Do stretching exercises
- You can take NSAIDs for preventive purposes a day before the period starts.
- Follow a healthy and balanced diet, avoid excesses (not only during menstruation).
Maybe you knew, maybe you didn’t. But reviewing some tips to relieve period pain never hurts.
What are your best ways to get period pain relief? What helps period cramps for you?