It is often said that menstruation unites women who are on the most antagonistic terms. An aspect of menstruation, in which women relate to with each other, is period cramps. Cramps are the most dreaded part of a woman’s month. The pain can sometimes be unbearable enough to not let us leave bed for days on end. However, these cramps can be dealt with, at least partially, if not fully, by doing a couple of things while we experience the pain.
In this article, we tell you how you can try and deal with period cramps and make it out better:
1. Use heating bags or bottles
Applying heat to the effected part makes the pain go away. Period cramps are caused by lower blood flow to the uterus, which might result in damaging of tissue cells. According to studies at University College London, a temperature of 40⁰C causes the pain receptors (P2X3) in tissues to go numb reducing the sensation of pain in the area.
2. Take a hot water bath
As we’ve already discussed the merits of heat when in pain, taking a hot water bath helps calm muscles throughout your body. Adding a couple of bath salts enhances the experience and calms you both physically and mentally. Use – clary sage and lavender for pain relief, eucalyptus and cinnamon to reduce inflammation, rose to regulate the menstrual cycle, and ylang-ylang and chamomile to decrease pain and irritability.
3. Lightly massage the area
Use a mix of essential oils of lavender, clary sage, and marjoram in a 2:1:1 ratio and lightly massage your lower abdominal area. Use circular movement of hands on your abdomen with light pressure, and do it 30 times. Alternatively, you could use your index and middle fingers and move them in a heart shape on your lower abdomen. In case of intense pain, you could resort to kneading your belly with your knuckles for around 30 seconds. Rubbing the back of your ribs lightly is also helpful sometimes.
4. Consume more herbal tea
Herbal tea has been an age-old aid for helping with maladies of the body. Chamomile tea is known to have an effect on period cramps. Moreover, the cumulative effect of tea lasts longer. Here is a recipe for you to make yourself that perfect cup of turmeric root tea, known to be anti-inflammatory, during that time of the month. Mix 24 g (0.8 oz) turmeric root, 13g grated ginger root, quarter teaspoon grounded cinnamon, few pieces of ground black pepper, 80g honey, and the juice of half a lemon. Store the mixture in an air tight container and keep it refrigerated. Mix the concoction with boiling water and add some pepper for a cup of pure relief.
5. Have sex while on your period
Having sex is one of the most effective ways of handling period cramps. It increases immunity, and reduces pain by releasing hormones like dopamine, noradrenaline, etc., which reduce the sensation of pain. An orgasm facilitates the flexing of uterine walls, thus, expelling the blood faster and shortening the period cycle.
6. Sleep comfortably
Sleeping can be a pain during periods, but try doing that in the fetal position. It helps reduce both the pain and leaks!
7. Stay hydrated
Drinking water helps expel fluids from the body through the urinary system. Also, have vegetables and fruits which are high in water content, like cucumbers, watermelons, etc. It’ll help your body to keep away from bloating and swelling up.
8. Consume spices
Fennel seeds are known for their medicinal properties when it comes to period cramps. They relieve you of the pain, but can increase the blood flow. Ginger and cinnamon, on the other hand, are known to reduce bleeding and relax muscles, providing symptomatic relief.
9. Increase intake of minerals and vitamins
Calcium through foods like milk, eggs, broccoli, etc., should be taken in in large amounts to reduce the pain. Vitamin D absorbs all the extra calcium and reduces inflammation. Omega-3 Fatty Acids in fish oil also help with the same, but they tend to increase the bleeding, at times. Magnesium and Vitamin help fight period cramps by reducing sensation, but if you have heart problems, you should consult your doctor first.
10. Work out
Working out when you are on periods increases endorphin levels in the body which help fight the pain. Plus, the muscles are properly flexed while exercising, which is an added benefit to fight cramps.
11. Reduce the intake of certain foods and beverages
Caffeine is one of the most consumed products, but also the worst to consume during periods. It worsens symptoms of PMS, and also makes the menstrual cycle irregular. Other intoxicants like alcohol should also be avoided in order for the period cycle to continue without any disruption and not cause period pain. Foods like chocolate may help lift your mood, but it causes bloating due to water retention which is bad.
12. Resort to acupressure or chiropractic massages
Acupressure points that help with period cramps are- sea of energy (two fingers below the belly button), gate origin (lower two more fingers), mansion cottage, rushing door (located beside each other in the pelvic region), sacral (near the coccyx), and wombs and vitals (outside the sacrum and at the base of the hipbones and buttocks). They’re all located in the abdominal region of your body. Your legs have the three ying crossing, and the grandfather grandson points on the upper arch. Pressing them also help with the pains. Chiropractors might help you better.
13. Take contraceptive pills
Birth control pills, if taken regularly and systematically, can help reduce cramps. Also, other non-steroidal analgesics like aspirin might help. But make sure the pills are your last resort and you consult your doctor prior to taking them.
These above ways should help you deal with cramps effectively, but usually everybody has a different way of dealing with their cramps. The idea is to listen to what your body says and do accordingly. Sometimes a thing might comfort you, other times it won’t.
So, just understand your body and work things accordingly. Have a great cycle!