Did you know that up to 90% of menstruating people have some symptoms related to dysmenorrhea during their period? Sounds like an exaggeration, but it isn’t. And the worst part, no one really told us how to deal with it.
And you might be wondering, “what can help me with period cramps”, bear with us as we have several solutions and remedies you can try for that and for pretty much any symptom of menstruation.
First of all, let’s understand period pain and where it comes from. It definitely is very personal and caused by a variety of factors.
Most common causes of period pain
Premenstrual syndrome or PMS
PMS affects roughly 80% of the menstruating population, starting a few days before the actual period and going into the first couple of days of it. You can feel fatigue, irritability and menstrual cramps, all of them symptoms of an oncoming period caused by lower estrogen and progesterone levels.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD
A harsher form of PMS that affects around 5% of menstruating people. No one is sure about the causes, but theories say it affects people with high stress levels, depression or a family history of depression. The symptoms are the same as the ones for PMS, just much, much more intense.
There is a thing called Endometrium, which grows inside the uterus. However, it might happen that this endometrium starts growing outside of it, in places where it’s not supposed to be. Although this won’t affect your overall health, every time your body tries to shed the uterine tissue (aka your period), the endometrium won’t have anywhere to go, becoming trapped in your body and causing very painful cramps, heavy bleeding, inflammation and tissue irritation.
Of course we can go on and on with this list, mentioning ovarian cysts, dysmenorrhea, uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease and others. However, our advice is that if you have any condition that aggravates your period pain you check it out with your doctor to see if there is a treatment available for your situation.
Solutions to alleviate cramps and reduce period pain
Now, let’s get down to business and go over the different solutions, remedies and ways to alleviate your menstrual pain, which is why you came to this post. Remember that none of these works for everybody and you will need to start a journey of discovering what works best for you and your uterus. And, in case none of these help, remember to visit your doctor for more specific solutions.
1. Heating Pads
Or, actually, heat in general. It will help your muscles relax, relieve tension and improve your blood flow. You choose how to apply the heat, it can be pads, a warm bath, a heat patch or whichever way occurs and suits you and your lifestyle. An easy trick is to get yourself a sock filled with rice and microwave it for at least 30s to have a DIY heat pad.
2. Herbal teas
Although this one is in the realm of natural remedies, teas and infusions have proved again and again that they help with pain relief thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties and antispasmodic compounds. The components of some teas can help you alleviate menstrual pain by reducing the muscle spasms that trigger cramps. Special mention to ginger, chamomile, cinnamon, oolong, green and black teas.
3. Drink water
We can’t stress it enough, stay hydrated! Drinking plenty of water will reduce bloating and alleviate some of the pain and the discomfort it causes. Plus, remember the heat part? Well, drinking hot water also has relaxing effects on your muscles, helping you relieve menstrual cramps.
4. Improve your diet
Similarly to the teas, some foods also have antiinflammatory properties, plus, they taste great and might give you both a change of scenery when it comes to your meals and a distraction while cooking it. Try berries, pineapple, tomatoes, and spices like turmeric, ginger or garlic. Leafy green vegetables, almonds, walnuts and fatty fish, like salmon are also your friends when trying to reduce inflammation.
However, remember that different foods will work in different ways depending on which stage of the cycle you are in!
5. Keep the coffee away
Coffee itself is not bad for your cramps, but caffeine is. That’s why you should keep in mind that decaf stuff exists. Caffeine is a stimulant and it also causes your blood vessels to narrow and your blood pressure to go up. As you can imagine, this affects your uterus too, constricting its blood vessels and making cramps more painful.
Hey, we know you will need your fix as we all do, just switch to decaf while doing so and your uterus will thank you.
6. Try dietary supplements
We are talking about vitamins. Be careful as some of them interact with medicines, meaning that you will need to check with a physician if you are on some kind of treatment. Other than that, you can check Vitamin E, Magnesium, and Omega-3, which can help you reduce inflammation and, consequently, period pain. Vitamin D (and we are not talking about the D, although it also helps) can also help by absorbing calcium and reducing inflammation. By the way, did you know that 50% of the world population has Vitamin D insufficiency and about 1 billion have a deficiency?
7. Reduce stress
Hey, we know you have been told this a bazillion times, but hear us out… Stress just makes everything worse, doesn’t it? Try meditation, yoga, deep breathing, mindfulness sessions and you will see how your pain starts to fade. You can add some binaural beats, such as the ones from Moonai, to it to boost the effect. These will mimic your brain patterns and cause it to relax, relaxing your whole body as a result.
8. Treat yourself to a massage
Massage therapy significantly reduces menstrual pain. Specifically, abdominal massages can help you relax your uterine muscles and make the pain much much better. In addition, any kind of massage therapy has relaxing effects, making your stress go away and… well, you read that part just seconds ago.
9. Do some sports
We know, there is nothing more dreadful than exercising on your period, but we promise it will be worth it. Plus, you don’t need to run a marathon! Even some light exercise such as a 10 minute stretching session will help you release the happiness hormones, endorphins, which are pain relieving.
10. Try alternative medicine
Believe it or not, alternative therapies work for some people. You can think of acupuncture, acupressure and music therapy as ways to reduce your period pain without the need of OTC (over the counter) drugs.
Try them out and let us know how these solutions did for you. Remember that every body is different and you might find that not all of them help you or that you might need to combine them to see some results.
Plus, for a better outcome, we would recommend you to try Moonai, a sound based app that uses scientifically designed music to help your brain manage the pain.