Menstrual cramps are, unfortunately, a common monthly occurrence for women in their childbearing years. Ranging in intensity from slight twinges to sharp, prolonged aches, these cramps typically affect the abdominal, pelvic and lower back areas in the days prior to and just after menstruation onset.
Thankfully, with a number of effective pain relief methods available, there is no need to just suffer through menstrual cramps as part of your monthly cycle. If you are seeking relief from this type of discomfort, try one or more of these ten easy-to-implement techniques.
1. Limit Your Caffeine Intake
Ingest too much caffeine during your time of the month, and you are at increased risk for cramping due to contracted muscles and constricted blood vessels. Make an effort to avoid caffeinated beverages altogether while you are menstruating.
If you are accustomed to caffeine and concerned about experiencing withdrawal headaches, limit your intake to a cup of coffee or can of soda per day.
2. Soothe Your Cramps With Heat
Tense abdominal, back and uterine muscles can be soothed and relaxed through various types of heat application. Fight menstrual cramps by lying down in a comfortable position and then placing a heating pad, hot water bottle or heat pack on the affected area until the pain recedes.
Increase blood flow through cramped muscles by taking a hot bath or shower as well.
3. Massage The Tension Away
Massage your lower back and belly muscles using circular hand movements in order to decrease cramping associated with your monthly period. If you enjoy practicing aromatherapy, integrate a pain-relieving essential oil such as lavender into your massage session.
Schedule an appointment with a professional masseuse if you desire a prolonged massage that targets more persistent menstrual pain.
4. Avoid Dehydration
Drinking approximately eight glasses of water per day not only benefits your health in general, but also supplies you with the hydration necessary to relax your muscles during menstruation.
Avoid becoming dehydrated when symptoms of monthly cramping occur, and try to drink warm water when possible. For extra flavor, drink coconut water, which also helps to decrease bloating and spasms.
5. Eat Foods Rich In Certain Vitamins And Minerals
Foods high in vitamin D, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients are particularly beneficial for the management of menstrual cramps. During your cycle, eat a diet rich in foods such as salmon, yogurt, greens, nuts and seeds, chickpeas and bananas.
Limit your intake of fried, sugary and overly-processed foods, all of which can exacerbate cramping, bloating and gas pains.
6. Explore Herbal Remedies
Homeopaths may recommend some herbal remedies for soothing menstrual discomfort, as several herbs have the potential to fight inflammation. Consider herbal supplements and teas containing dandelion, chamomile, red raspberry leaf, evening primrose, ginger, parsley, dill or black cohosh to reduce breast tenderness and belly pain.
Follow dosage instructions as directed when utilizing herbal remedies, and ask a natural health practitioner for suggestions if needed.
7. Rest As Much As Possible
Resting your muscles is a basic and effective way of alleviating cramps while you are having your monthly period. In addition to sleeping between seven and eight hours every night, take the time to nap or rest for brief intervals throughout the day. Lie in a relaxed position in order to maximize blood flow to the affected muscle groups.
8. Try Yoga And Other Light Exercises
Yoga poses, especially those that center on the lumbar and pelvic areas, are useful for targeting pain, fatigue, cramping and other forms of discomfort associated with menstruation. Aim to practice yoga each day, and take care to bend and stretch properly.
You may also wish to consider other forms of exercise such as light aerobics and walking, both of which stimulate endorphin production.
9. Relax Your Uterus Through Climaxing
If you feel comfortable doing so while menstruating, consider achieving an orgasm through sex or masturbation. This act helps to relieve cramping in several ways, including endorphin release, uterine relaxation and blood flow stimulation.
Reaching a climax also triggers the release of oxytocin, a hormone that calms your body overall.
10. Take A Mild OTC Pain Reliever
If your menstrual cramps persist with the use of natural remedies, taking one of the various available over-the-counter pain relievers may provide the extra bit of relief that you need.
Choose pain relievers that offer a mild dose of ibuprofen or naproxen, both of which are anti-inflammatory drugs commonly found in commercial products.