Natural remedies to relieve menstrual cramps
I am sure, many women are aware of the what and how of menstrual pain. An estimated 80% of women experience severe menstrual cramps and pain. This so-called Period Pain can be so bad that doctors have actually given it a medical term- Dysmenorrhea.
During a period, the uterus contracts to squeeze lining away from the uterine wall and allow it to exit the body through the vagina. These uterine contractions cause painful cramps.
This pain can undoubtedly put a crimp in your lifestyle, since you cannot enjoy your favourite sport, or go out with friends or even go to work when you are doubled over.
Common problems during periods
A Normal menstrual cycle means something different for every female. A cycle that is regular for you may be abnormal for someone else. However, there are several menstrual problems that you may experience
- PMS (Pre menstrual syndrome)- Usually seen 1 to 2 weeks before your periods begin. It can be characterized by bloating, irritability, backaches, headaches, tenderness of breast, constipation or diarrhea, insomnia, stress, fatigue, and the list go on. PMS is uncomfortable and may interfere with your normal activities.
- Painful periods- Some women experience excruciating pain, so called dysmenorrhea. It is highly linked to underlying medical problem like Pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids, or abnormal tissue growth outside the uterus walls. It is can also be accompanied with back pain, diarrhea or nausea.
- Heavy flow- Also called as menorrhagia, heavy periods causes you to bleed more than normal. It is usually caused by imbalances in progesterone and estrogen levels. Women with menorrhagia lose 80ml-90ml more blood per period.
- Absent periods- Popularly known as amenorrhoea, it can be characterized by menses not starting till age of 16 or even when you stop getting your regular periods for 6 months or more. It can be caused due to pregnancy, birth control pills, anorexia nervosa, hyperthyroidism, sudden weight gain or loss, delayed puberty, stress, PCOD, premature menopause or even chronic illness.
Why do I experience menstrual cramps?
The most common reasons of painful menses can be
- Being under age of 20
- Smoking or tobacco use
- Heavy bleeding during periods
- Seen usually before first pregnancy
- Fibroids in the uterus
- Early puberty (before age of 11)
How to treat these painful menstrual cramps?
Placing a heating pad or hot water on your lower back or tummy or even having a hot shower can work wonders to relieve menstrual cramps. However, other lifestyle changes and a few hacks can also help
- Drink more water- Drinking more water eases bloating, further reducing the worsening of symptoms
- Healthy diet is the key- It’s time to skip those waffles, crackers and French fries!! Indulge more into healthy foods like cherries, tomatoes, capsicum, nuts and green leafy veggies. Swap out those less healthy fats like refined oils for the healthier ones like olive oil, fish, healthy nuts and seeds.
- Sip on some chamomile tea- Chamomile tea is anti-inflammatory which reduces further muscle contractions of the uterus, pain and cramps
- Also consuming more anti-inflammatory foods like ginger, turmeric
- See the Sun- Exposing your body to Sun and getting enough vitamin D, reducing prostaglandins and reducing pain too!!
- Follow a good sleep hygiene. Going to bed everyday at the same time every night should be encouraged. It can be accompanied with listening to light music, or taking a warm bath.
- Avoid tobacco, smoking and alcohol
- Touch brings relief- Light massage on your abdomen may be of a great help. Massage with certain aromatic essential oils encourages blood flow and relieves menstrual cramps (Journal of obstetrics and Gynaecology Research)
- Avoid high salty foods and excess sugar as they cause bloating
- Get moving- Regular exercise releases endorphins, brain chemicals which promote good well being.Also, few yoga stretches can indeed help give relief from cramps.
- Meditation and relaxation techniques to reduce stress levels
- Dietary supplements like omega 3 fatty acid, calcium, B complex vitamins,
- Skip the coffee- Caffeine found in coffee, tea, sodas, chocolates or energy drinks need to be replaced by berries, healthy smoothies and green leafy vegetables. Indulge in those warm herbal teas. Few among them are chamomile and peppermint tea.
The bottom line-
Menstrual cramps are a common symptom before and during a period. Many times, these menstrual cramps may be normal, but there may be some situations where pain can be unbearable indicating something more serious.
If your pain is severe and impacts your lifestyle, do not hesitate taking to your doctor and seeking medical help Especially if home remedies do not work for you.
Remember, periods are the signs that you are all set to give birth. It is a beautiful part of a women’s biological existence as a whole.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sneha Jain, Dietician
Sneha is a Post graduate with specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a university topper and holds 5+ years of experience in Apollo hospitals, VLCC, slimsutra and first cry fit-kids . She has successfully counselled clients all over India for weight loss, weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, PCOD, hypothyroid, Pregnancy and lactation and growth charts for children. She has her own diet consultation e-clinic (diet_diariez)
She believes in customized diets and eating local and seasonal foods. Her counselling not only involves diet planning, but also lifestyle modification and stress relief strategies.