Ten Ways to Relieve Menstrual Cramps
Almost all women experience some level of period pain. Some are lucky enough that the cramps are just mild twinges, but unfortunately many are struck down by severe pain that is hard to shift. Try a combination of the following methods to relieve menstrual cramps.
1) Some supplements can help relieve not just menstrual cramps but also the other annoying symptoms associated with the monthly period (such as abdominal bloating and swollen breasts). Zinc, B vitamins and calcium are all linked to the reduction of troublesome and painful period symptoms.
2) Lie down and elevate your legs using a stack of pillows. Keep your knees bent while you lie this way. This reduces stretching of the pelvic muscles, which can help to dull some of your menstrual cramps.
3) Try to maintain a healthy weight for your height. Fat cells in your body produce the hormone estrogen, which in high enough concentrations can increase the amount of menstrual cramping you experience during your period.
4) Many women find that over-the-counter painkillers can at least take the edge off their period pain. In particular, ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory painkillers seem to inhibit the body’s production of prostaglandins (chemicals which can cause or increase the severity of muscle contractions).
5) Place a heating pad or a hot water bottle against your lower abdomen. This helps reduce the severity of menstrual cramps in almost all women, and can be particularly helpful when you are trying to fall asleep (as you can simply lie on your back and place the source of heat on top of you).
6) Oral contraceptives (especially the combined pill) often have a huge impact on the severity and duration of period pain. However, you must weigh this benefit against the risks and negative side effects involved in taking oral contraceptives. It is also important to remember that the combined pill is not suitable for every woman. If you want to know whether you are a good candidate for oral contraceptives to help your menstrual cramps, discuss this in detail with your doctor.
7) Some studies suggest that certain herbal remedies have an antispasmodic effect that can dull or eliminate menstrual cramps (depending on the original severity of the cramps). Ask your pharmacist or a herbalist about Cimicifuga raemosa or Viburnum prunifolium.
8) Mild to moderate aerobic exercise seems to help most women with their menstrual cramps for at least a few hours. Walking and cycling are particularly good for this.
9) If you are experiencing more painful cramps in your back than in your abdomen, lie on your side with your knees bent and drawn up towards your chest. This helps to take some pressure away from your back and in turn relieves some of the pain.
10) Warm baths can relax your muscles and also soothe the abdominal pain associated with menstruation. It might be a good idea to add aromatherapy oils to your bath as well.
If your menstrual cramps are so severe that they are preventing you from being able to work or socialize for multiple days, talk to your doctor about whether an underlying medical condition might be making your cramps worse. Endometriosis, ovarian cysts and certain tumors can make period pain more extreme.