For most women, seeing their period is not a walk in the park as it comes with moderate to severe pains, better known as cramps.
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What should you do? Here are 25 methods to deal with menstrual cramps.
Take more fluids:
Make water your friend. The discomfort that comes with menstrual cramps can be clamped down by drinking plenty of water which relieves bloating that worsens symptoms. Whenever you are in your period, get to drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water every day. To sweeten your water a bit, you can mix it with some lemon wedge or mint. Remember not to eat salt while you’re upping your fluid intake as it triggers bloating and involuntary withholding of fluid. Stay away from alcohol – it makes you lose water fast. While experiencing menstrual cramps, some women may vomit or have diarrhoea. Note that the body loses fluids daily, so you need to drink enough water to replenish the loss.
Another fluid alternative aside from water. Not everyone may enjoy drinking plain water. That’s not a problem. There are other ways you can enjoy your water: take a glass of fruit-water mix every morning immediately you wake up. Drink ginger tea or chamomile. Try flavoured mineral water to change your hydration taste. Prepare a jar of lemon, mint or cucumber water for your daily water consumption. Boost your hydration with a cup of broth containing less sodium. Aside from providing relief from cramps, sufficient hydration gives your general health a boost!
Dietary nutrition works. Foods filled with fats, sugar and salt may be a temptation during your period, but please avoid them. Don’t go about snacking on processed foods. For some women, a good diet can reduce pain from menstruation. A choice of tomatoes, squash, bell peppers and blueberries is great as they have anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3 acid packed in cold water fish helps as well. Dark leafy greens, almonds and beans packed with calcium are great anti-inflammatory foods. This kind of diet can work wonders for some women to kick out menstruation discomfort and keep them healthy. Make eating a healthy diet your thing – by default, it will make your menstruation days easy to bear.
What to avoid. The kind of food and lifestyle you lead determines whether you will feel pain or at ease during your menstrual cycle. Certain foods can spark up menstrual cramps – such should be avoided. Processed food like pasta, bread and sugar, and foods containing trans-fatty acids such as margarine, cookies, French fries are not good for you. If you drink alcohol, take caffeine and tobacco, kindly stop. Why? They trigger inflammation and can worsen pain during period. Evidence shows that painful periods can be eased when toxic fatty foods are avoided.
Drink chamomile tea:
Cramps induced by menstruation can be relaxed by sipping chamomile tea. This special tea contains anti-inflammatories that resist endometrial-cell-produced prostaglandins. This makes the uterus muscles contract, and pain and cramps are experienced. With prostaglandins present in the blood, women in their menstrual cycle may have headaches, nausea, diarrhoea and even vomit. So, chamomile tea restricts prostaglandins that trigger menstrual cramps. Even ibuprofen and naproxen can lower the production of prostaglandin. It is also best to visit a Gynaecologist in London for proper care.
Give fennel extract a try:
A study showed that about 80 percent of young women who took fennel-based medication before their menstruation start date felt less pain than others who had a placebo. Like NSAIDs, fennel is known through research to stop prostaglandins-induced contractions of the uterus muscles. Around 10 percent of women experience very serious cramps between days 1 to 3 of their menstrual cycle, making them unable to function normally. In such a case, fennel extract may help with discomfort.
A pinch of cinnamon:
According to a study, menstrual cramps, pain, nausea, and vomiting were low in young women who took cinnamon-based medication three days into their menstrual cycle than those who had a placebo. There were no reported side effects from the cinnamon meds. You may add a little cinnamon to your coffee or breakfast cereal – it may not be harmful and can alleviate severe symptoms of menstruation.
Following the report of a study, young women who took ginger capsules experienced less painful periods just like those who take ibuprofen and mefenamic acid – NSAIDs. These women in the study took ginger meds (250 mg) during the initial 3 days of their menstrual cycle. Those taking mefenamic acid took 250 mg of the substance 4 times daily. Women taking ibuprofen took 400 mg 4 times each day. At the end of the study, all the women in each treatment category experienced about the same level of relief in menstrual symptoms. No serious side effects were reported by any of the women. For a more natural relief for menstrual cramps, you can give ginger a try.
Pycnogenol might help:
The maritime pine trees grown in Southwestern France offer pycnogenol, a plant extract. This extract is rich in active antioxidants. When tried on women between the ages of 18 to 48 who were seeing their period, a dosage of 60 mg pycnogenol in a study showed reduced pain and less need for pain relief as against when the med was not administered.
Again, the women required pain relief for fewer days after using pycnogenol. Interestingly, even after the pycnogenol supplement was stopped, the women still had less need for pain relief. But women with reduced menstrual cramps did not gain much from pycnogenol. Consult your doctor on whether pycnogenol supplements reduce serious menstrual symptoms and discomfort.
The research compared the potency of dill powder to mefenamic acid in reducing menstrual cramps on some young women who were students. The study divided the women into three groups represented by the dill powder, mefenamic acid and the placebo. The women were placed on a 5-day treatment that began 2 days before their period started. Results showed that dill powder was as effective as over-the-counter painkillers to ease menstrual cramps. For a zero-drug solution to the pains of menstruation, you may consider dill powder.
Curcumin from the root turmeric:
This wonderful ingredient from natural turmeric can alleviate menstrual cramps. It was shown that women who used curcumin (2 capsules) for a week before their period and 3 days post start of menstruation did not feel so much pain as women who had a placebo. Research suggests that the potent properties of curcumin fight inflammation and change levels in the transmission of nerve signals – which may account for less pain during menstruation. The behaviour, symptoms, and mood of women who took curcumin improved. Those experiencing conditions caused by inflammation like arthritis and IBS can benefit from curcumin.
Vitamin B1 and fish oil:
These substances were tested on high school students to know if they worked to relieve menstrual cramps. The study had the women for the test separated into 4 groups. The first group was given vitamin b1 (100 mg) every day. Group 2 took fish oil (500 mg) each day. Group 3 had both vitamin b1 and fish oil daily. The last group had a placebo. This treatment started at the women’s menstruation and lasted 2 months. The result showed that the women in groups 1, 2 and 3 – those who had vitamin b1, fish oil, and both, had mild pain than the placebo group. Groups 1 to 3 also reported short-term pain, unlike the last group who took the placebo.
The potency of vitamin D:
One may be unable to function properly due to cramps from menstruation. As already established, prostaglandins produced by endometrial cells cause muscles of the uterus to contract and bring about pain. The lining of the uterus is shed as a result of this. But vitamin D doesn’t encourage prostaglandins to be released. A study conducted on women with decreased vitamin D levels and primary level menstrual cramps showed that after giving them so many vitamin D supplements every week, menstrual pain came to a low 8 weeks during treatment and a month post-treatment. There was very little need for painkillers when the women took vitamin D supplements. Don’t know how much vitamin D you have? Ask your doctor to check. With a blood test, this can be done.
This nutrient is a necessity for everybody:
However, some women have a calcium deficiency. Calcium makes the bones strong and healthy and improves the conditions of the heart, nervous system and muscles. Taking a good dose of calcium can bring menstrual cramps down. According to a study of young women who took calcium supplements (1000 mg), everyday starting from the 15th day in menses until the end of menstrual pain in the next cycle, they felt low-level pain compared to those on a placebo. Add calcium to your diet by feeding more on salmon, canned sardines, low-fat dairy products and other rich sources of calcium.
Fire up your magnesium intake:
To power up about 300 enzyme systems, the body needs magnesium. It is useful in forming proteins, healthy bones, and muscles. For a functional nervous and muscular system, your body needs essential magnesium. Blood pressure regulation and sugar level control also demand the use of magnesium. What else? DNA and RNA formation uses magnesium; even the all-important glutathione, the body’s key antioxidant, requires this nutrient to be released.
A combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 reduces the severity of menstrual cramps. This is backed up by a study conducted where some women took magnesium (250 mg) and vitamin B6 (40 mg) everyday. Their menstrual cramps are drastically reduced at the end of the day. But you should apply caution. Suppose you’re taking some medications, including diuretics, antibiotics, biophosphonates, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). In that case, magnesium can react with these. Be sure to find out from your healthcare giver if you can take magnesium.
What else can magnesium do for women?
Endometriosis is reduced when women take a sufficient amount of magnesium. You can find magnesium in foods like spinach, black beans, peanuts, cashew and almonds. For women of age, a daily dose of between 310 to 400 mg of magnesium is advised though it comes down to age and if a woman is with child or breastfeeding.
Herbal medicine from China:
It is not every time that menstrual cramps can be alleviated via traditional solutions. Occasionally, women have zero tolerance for treatment. About 20 to 25 percent of women don’t see their menstruation pain go away with traditional methods, or they are unable to apply these treatments. For women who experience menstrual pain, herbal medicine from China can resolve it. So many studies support the effectiveness of this herbal preparation from China against painful periods and in lowering symptoms. Even women who had the Chinese herbal medicine had less need for painkillers during menstruation.
Stop drinking caffeinated substances:
Bid your fave coffee and likes goodbye. Menstrual cramps may disappear with the gradual withdrawal from drinking caffeine. All those energy drinks, cups of coffee, tea and soda are sources of caffeine. Are you a heavy consumer of caffeine? It’s time to turn away, and you should do it gradually, so you don’t bring upon yourself what is known as “withdrawal symptoms”. Try taking smoothies packed with berries, greens, and other foods filled with antioxidants in place of caffeine. Doing this will give you more boost and strength during menstruation and stop the menstrual discomfort caffeine brings.
Use of medications:
Over-the-counter painkillers. The contraction of the uterus causes painful menstruation. This pain is serious; medications like naproxen sodium, ibuprofen, and asprin can help. Distribute whatever pain meds that work for you in places you’re usually at,such as school, office, home, or in your car, for easy reach when needed. Please take care if you’re experiencing some health conditions and using these kinds of painkillers. Why? Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like the above are capable of worsening bleeding and causing gastrointestinal ulcers.
DIY heat solutions. Pain caused by menstruation can be dealt with by massaging the abdomen with heat sources like a hot water bottle, heating pad or wrap. These materials can be purchased online and in pharmacies. Continuously applying heat and using ibuprofen can soothe that menstrual cramps. Tension in body muscles is eased up by heat. A study supports the efficacy of heating as it is said to offer the same results as that provided by ibuprofen. This was seen as some women aged 18 to 30 years of experiencing menstrual cramps found relief after using a heat patch with 104°F of heat. Where none of the heating mechanism mentioned here is available, a warm, clean towel or a hot shower will do.
Start physical activities. For most women, engaging in exercises works to ease pain from menstruation. Endorphins, chemicals for the brain, are released during exercise. These help the body to be healthy. Do you enjoy swimming, running, skating or cycling? Feel free to do any of these while on your period. For cases of fatigue, you may simply perform yoga and tai chi – easy to do exercises.
Ease up that pain with firm, gentle touches. An abdomen massage for as little as 5 minutes daily could relax pain during periods. There is a free flow of blood when the body is massaged. Using essential oils for body massage is beneficial as they contain pain-relief properties. Examples include lavender oil, clary sage, etc.
Treatment using herbs. Those verses in herbal medicine may recommend herbs for helping women find relief from painful periods. Some useful herbs include turmeric, black cohosh, chasteberry, and cramp bark. Due to their potent properties, these herbs relieve inflammation and pain. Take, for instance, chasteberry; this herb is popular in Europe and has helped treat conditions like premenstrual syndrome (PMS), cyclical breast discomfort, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, and an abnormal menstrual cycle.
Talk to your doctor about your health condition. Make sure to honestly disclose your symptoms and the medications and supplements you’re taking. These herbs may not work for all women. There can be a reaction between herbs and certain pharmaceutical drugs; it can lower their potency.
Acupuncture and acupressure:
Work on the pressure points. From this East comes these fascinating and functional healing therapies: acupressure and acupuncture. They involve applying some force on the important pressure points on the body, which produces positive effects. These treatments are useful for most health conditions plus painful periods. Needles can be manipulated to ease the cramps a woman experiences during her period. The acupuncturist can do this. Again, specialists in these therapies can teach you how to incite the known pressure points in your body so you can be pain-free.
There are relevant pressure points on the feet, abdomen, back, between the first finger and thumb. After locating these points, apply gentle pressure on them to knock out that pain from menstruation. Interestingly, these methods don’t involve medicine, so you are free to apply them when symptoms arise. Speak with your practitioner to teach you how to work your body using acupressure. And they may even provide you with articles and photos on how this technique is used.
Engage in body core exercises:
Kegel and yoga. By exercising your core, you can get off the pain caused by menstruation. Lie on your back, bend your knees and breath in deeply. Women with painful periods can gain benefits from yoga. A study shows that women who engaged in yoga an hour weekly for 3 months had less menstrual pain to deal with than women who didn’t engage in yoga. Some great yoga poses offer great results for women in their periods: bound angel, staff pose, and bridge. A professional yoga instructor can teach you how to practice these poses.
Try to sleep healthy. How long and how well you sleep do impact your general health, including your period. A study showed that women who had difficulty sleeping experienced worse symptoms of menstruation and could not function very well during the day than women who had a healthy sleep. Learn to have a quality sleep – it alleviates the pain caused by menstruation. Sleep health will involve sleeping at a predetermined time each night. Build and keep a sleep routine that will help your body get used to sleeping once the time has come. This can be achieved by doing what puts you to sleep easily. For instance, reading a book, bathing in warm water, listening to soft music, or putting on dim lights. You will be very ready to keep menstrual symptoms in check with a healthy sleep routine. And your general health will also see significant improvement.
Extra tips for better sleep. You will feel more comfortable and ready to hit the sack when you learn to switch off the “screens” – laptops, TVs, phones, tablets, etc. Taking varying positions while you sleep can help during menstruation. Maintain a good sleep pattern near the start of your menstrual cycle.
Ease pain with a good bath:
Bubble up your bath. Giving yourself a warm bath can put your muscles to rest and ease the pain. Soak yourself up in a fresh bath containing some great essential oil or bubble bath. Listen to music, or read your best magazine to gladden your heart and spur up those happiness hormones. A great bath in the evening after work, school or a party can put you in a good mood for sleep. Don’t like baths? You can enjoy a warm shower. This will also help lower any pain, including that from menses.
Get medical help:
Seek personalised treatment. Not getting what you need from conventional methods, DIY techniques and other strategies? You need to see a medical expert. At the GYNAE CLINIC, your hormone levels can be checked. The doctor may recommend using contraceptives or other meds to manage menstrual cramps. Tell your doctor about every symptom you’re experiencing their impact on your sleep health and everyday activities. In fact, with a comprehensive medical history, your doctor can diagnose your condition and prescribe the treatment that will give you peace of mind.
For some women going through severe menstrual pain, the doctor may choose a hormonal birth control pill or patch. The aim is to control menstruation and keep pain at bay. Pregnancy is avoided when hormonal birth control is used. These contraceptives also lower the effect of uterine diseases like endometriosis should they exist. Bear in mind that endometriosis and other reproductive system ailments in women can raise primary dysmenorrhea to its secondary level.
When this happens, secondary dysmenorrhea begins during the first phase of your menstruation and may prolong the usual cramps. Be honest with your doctor about your medical history and issues because contraceptives are not an everywoman thing. This birth control doesn’t allow ovulation to take place. The uterine lining is also not allowed to gain its usual thickness like when there are changes in hormones every month. Most women using birth control do not have blood flow or abnormally light periods.
The methods discussed above can help you in taming pain from menstruation. It could be just one method out of the lot or a combination of two or more methods. However, they may not work for every woman. The best advice remains to see your doctor. They will do a thorough check on your uterus, considering all necessary factors and developing an effective treatment plan that will help you get through those days in the month you have your period.
You can call Gynae Clinic on 020 7183 1049 to schedule an appointment for your test.
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