Oh no, it’s that time of the month again! Resents Angela, a lady in her mid-20s who undergoes intense menstrual cramps every month.
But is it just Angela who dreads going through this experience?
I bait not.
Menstruation is something that annoys most women. This emotional wrecking, sharp, cramping pain in the lower abdomen, is something else. Not to mention feelings of fatigue, headache, drip-drip-drip, and uneasiness.
Dr. Shivani, a gynecologist from Takaungu women’s hospital, notes that while it’s normal to feel pain during menstruation, some discomfort can be too much to bear. It can rob you of the joy of enjoying the things that otherwise matter and excite you.
But what makes menstruation painful?
Period cramps occur as a result of uterus contraction. These contractions are triggered by the hormone Prostaglandins in the mid to shed off the uterine lining after a missed conception. And it’s the shaded lining that comes out inform of blood through the Yoni.
The prostaglandins hormone consists of both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory properties, which under normal circumstances should be balanced.
But, this is not usually the case for most women.
Some ladies experience higher pro-inflammatory prostaglandins that result in severe period cramps.
Also, apart from an imbalance in prostaglandins, PMS or abdominal pain may occur due to inflammation, and toxicity in the body.
So, does it mean that our fate is sealed?
The good news is that you can do something to balance this hormone. And doing so may minimize the pain brought by inflammation and toxicity.
The immediate solutions include eating anti-inflammatory food, supplements, and other natural remedies that we will look at in this article.
But before we dive in, let’s look at the symptoms and risk factors that predispose women to severe period pains.
Several risk factors may contribute to severe period pains, and they include:
Age; Those just beginning to have their menses may feel more pain than the older group.
Genetics; some families have a history of intense cramps during periods
Disorders like uterine fibroids or endometriosis.
Symptoms may include:
- Pain in the lower back and abdomen before or during menstruation
- Bitter saliva
- Nausea and vomiting
- Drowsiness and dizziness
- Loose stools
- Bloating and constipation
- Loss of appetite
HOW DO YOU STOP PERIOD CRAMPS FAST?
There are several ways to deal with menstrual cramps. The deal is to establish what works for your body and avoid what accelerates the pains.
1. Over-the-counter pain relievers
Using over-the-counter pain relievers like Buscopan and Naproxen can be one of the fastest ways to stop period cramps. Some doctors recommend a pain-relieving injection from licensed healthcare providers if it’s severe.
Most pain relievers work by reducing the production of prostaglandins. These are the hormone-like substances responsible for pain and inflammation. While some drugs like Acetaminophen numb some parts of your nervous cells responsible for sensing pain, thus preventing them from sending the pain signals to the brain.
2. A cup of hot herbal tea
For years, herbs have proved effective for treating reproductive diseases in women, especially in Africa. For instance, chamomile has been traditionally used to treat ulcers, hemorrhoids, mastitis, and skin irritations.
Sipping some herbal teas like chamomile and ginger tea can offer great relief when it comes to menstrual cramps.
These teas contain anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic compounds that relax uterus muscles and lessen pains. They have antioxidants, mild astringent, and healing powers, which help to relieve muscle spasms.
3. Apply some heat
Applying heat to your lower abdomen will help to ease the cramping during your period. This is because heat helps relax uterine muscles. By so doing, it increases blood flow thus, relieving pain.
Soak yourself in a hot water bath for abdominal muscle relaxation therapy. Or, place a heating pad around your lower abdomen for quick pain relief. You may also use a water bottle for the same course.
Some light exercises like waist motion, leg lifting, and taking walks can relieve period cramps. This is because exercise helps your brain to release endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that block pain receptors in your brain, helping to stop pain signals from your contracting uterus.
Apart from endorphins, exercise also helps to improve blood circulation for body relaxation and pain elevation. They help to improve your mood thus, making you feel better.
Try 30 to 60-second cobra, fish, cow, or cat yoga poses for faster pain relief. It even feels better doing the yoga poses when your body is still warm, probably after a warm bath.
5. Massage your uterus
Massage is effective for uterus relaxation and improved blood circulation during your period.
A study conducted by the National Library of Medicine concluded that abdominal massages could effectively relieve period cramps.
To massage your abdomen,
- Lie flat on your back
- Rub your hands for at least ten seconds with a massage oil of your choice. You may use coconut oil
- Place your palm on the side just below the navel while interlocking your fingers
- Squeeze your abdomen outwardly while applying pressure for at least 10 seconds
- Repeat the process
Doing this exercise for at least 10mins a day before and during your period can lessen cramps by boosting blood circulation in your abdomen.
If you don’t feel comfortable massaging yourself, get someone at home to help you with it.
Your caregiver can perform the message while standing behind you. Let them Locate your sacrum. Then place the heels of their palm on the sides of your sacrum while interlocking their fingers. Allow them to Squeeze into the sacrum with the heels of their palm while applying pressure. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
Reflexology is simply applying pressure in a specific area known as pressure points that correspond to the internal organ. In the case of menstrual pains, you need to identify the external pressure points that fit with your abdomen.
According to reflexology experts, the area around the ankles relates to the lower abdomen. Thus, by massaging the ankle, symptoms associated with PMS, can reduce significantly.
One study suggests that reflexology is superior to Ibuprofen in reducing dysmenorrhea. Accordingly, you may continue to enjoy the effect of reflexology treatment long enough even after discontinuing the intervention.
Here are YouTube videos from reflexology experts showing you how to perform.
7. Aromatherapy and essential oil
A recent study shows that having an abdominal massage with a blend of essential oil gives significant menstrual pain relief as opposed to not using it.
In this study, the group of women that incorporated essential oils in their abdominal massages experienced faster and more lasting pain relives.
Essential oils that consisted of Clary Sage, peppermint, cinnamon, clove, lavender, and rose may be the real deal for you. Most of these oils contain anti-inflammatory components that can help relax your uterine muscles and ease PMS.
You should, however, ensure that you mix these essential oils with a carrier oil like coconut or almond oil base before applying.
Consequently, the aroma in these oils can help balance your emotions and lessen anxiety. For diffusing, try putting a few drops of your favorite oil into your diffuser at night for a restful sleep.
8. Drink plenty of water
The menstrual period is characterized by low levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones. The change in hormonal balance prompts your body to retain more water resulting in constipation, bloating, and fatigue. Sometimes you may feel mild headaches and general body weakness due to lack of enough water in your body.
To deal with these effects, you need to take 8 to 9 glasses of water per day.
The more water you drink, the easier it becomes for your body system to digest the foods. Water also helps to flush out undesirable chemicals and keeps your blood pressure in check thus, helping you to stay healthy.
9. Period smoothie
Making your period smoothie is the best way to beat the nauseating feeling. It also increases critical nutrients in your body and keeps your moods at bay during menstruation. Try these foods for your period smoothie;
Banana; is great for vitamin B6 and mood-boosting.
Dark Chocolates; An excellent source of magnesium, an element responsible for balancing mood swings.
Kale or spinach: dark leafy greens are great for iron. Nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and vitamin K
Salmon: an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help in relaxing the muscles and reducing cramps
Greek Yogurt – is an excellent source of calcium.
Pumpkin Seeds or flax seeds – These seeds help in balancing hormones by regulating estrogen. The wonderful thing about flax is that it is an estrogenic adaptive. Depending on the body’s needs, it can either amplify or reduce estrogen. It also contains high protein levels and healthy fats.
Fresh ginger and turmeric – ginger and turmeric are potent antioxidant and pain reliever that helps to reduce period cramps.
For a fantastic smoothie that relieves period cramps, use this recipe.
Period Cramp Relieving Recipe
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 1 Banana
- 1 handful of Spinach
- 1 dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- Pinch of fresh Ginger
You may adjust the ingredients according to your taste, like switching out the spinach for kale.
10. Incorporate dietary supplements and multivitamins
Eating foods that contain iron, calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium is crucial for primary dysmenorrhea. They may help reduce inflammations, thus lessening the severity of pain and period length.
Magnesium and vitamin c will help relax your uterus by reducing prostaglandin production. Consequently, vitamin D increases calcium absorption and reduces inflammation.
These vitamins are readily available in our daily foods like leafy greens. However, incorporating dietary supplements may ensure that you get the requisites amount for your body during menstruation.
11. Work on Hormonal balance with seed cycling
Hormonal imbalances may increase the severity of cramps, thus ensuring that you take early and continuous precautions can save the day.
Seed cycling rallies behind the idea that certain types of seeds, such as pumpkin, flax, fennel, and chia, can help regulate the levels of estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones.
These seeds come from potent plants with antioxidant compounds or properties. And as such, seed cycling can help balance your hormones, thus preventing the inflammations and pains that occur due to hormonal imbalance during your menses.
Synchronizing your consumption of various seeds with your menstrual cycle can allegedly relieve hormone-related symptoms such as PMS, PCOS, irregular periods, and hot flashes.
12. Eat anti-inflammatory foods and herbs
Some foods can offer natural relief for cramps, and they taste great. Nutrient-rich, whole Anti-inflammatory foods can help promote blood flow and relax your uterus.
Try eating berries, tomatoes, pineapples, and spices like turmeric, ginger, or garlic. Turmeric consists of curcumin which may be consumed as capsules seven days before your menses. Studies have shown that curcumin, a natural chemical in turmeric, may ease premenstrual syndromes.
Also, Leafy green vegetables, almonds, raw nuts, and fatty fish, like salmon, can help reduce inflammation.
13. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol can increase the intensity of period cramps. This may occur due to dehydration brought about by excessive alcohol. It also contains some processed sugar that makes you susceptible to cramps. To be on the safer side, do away with alcohol right before the onset of your periods and the first day of your menses to prevent severe cramps.
14. No treat time
While crispy or French fries might be tempting for your tongue, foods high in sugar, trans -fat, and salt can cause bloating and inflammation. This worsens your cramps by increasing contractions in your abdominal muscles.
Instead of reaching out for sweetened products or foods with high processed sugar content like sodas, Grab a banana or melon fruit to fight sugar cravings. Also, try unsalted nuts if you want something more savory.
15. Limit your caffeine intake
One study associates the prolonged use of caffeine with heavy menses and abnormal menstruation symptoms.
According to the survey, Non-caffeinated drinks, soft drinks, and chocolate were not related to irregular menstruation. In fact, chocolate proved to cause fewer premenstrual symptoms.
Caffeine causes your blood vessels to narrow. This can constrict your uterus, making cramps more painful. If you need your coffee fix, switch to decaf during your period. If you rely on caffeine to beat the afternoon slump, eat a snack high in protein or take a quick 10-minute walk to boost your energy.
16. Just Sleep!
This time of the month puts many women on emotional roller-coaster rides. Getting enough sleep thus, becomes therapeutic.
Good sleep helps to ease stress, fatigue, and anxiety. It also gives your body ample time to repair itself after a whooping long menstrual cycle.
You should thus, not feel guilt for taking an afternoon nap. If you find it difficult to sleep naturally, why don’t you engage your doctor for a melatonin supplement prescription? It may go a long way in helping you sleep better.
DISCLAIMER The information contained in this post is for general information purposes only. I’m not a health practitioner and as such, this information should not be used as a substitute for consultation with your professional service provider.