There are plenty of symptoms that make us dread that time of the month. Between bloating, acne, and fatigue, our periods can cause us to struggle with our daily activities. But the most debilitating part of period week is often the pain and discomfort caused by period cramps. If you are looking for ways to alleviate that pain other than with over the counter painkillers, let’s talk about three ways to help with your monthly discomfort.
What Causes Period Cramps?
Most people experience period cramps during the first few days of menstruation. They are caused by the contractions that occur in the uterus as your body begins to shed the uterine lining. These contractions are usually triggered by fluctuations in your body’s hormone levels. However, there are certain groups of people who may experience worse period cramps than others: people who are younger than 30 years of age, or those who started puberty younger than age 11.
Your cramps may also be worse if you experience heavy or irregular bleeding during your period, you have a family history of bad period pain, or you smoke. While there is nothing you can do about some of these risk factors, there are ways to help alleviate your period pain.
There are several studies that suggest different types of supplements or vitamins for PMS relief. There is evidence that supports supplementing with magnesium, calcium, and vitamins B6, B12, E, and D to help with period cramping. There was also a review of nine studies that occurred in 2020 that found cinnamon, fennel, and ginger to be effective in reducing period pain. You can try including these vitamins and herbs in your diet throughout the month, especially in the week leading up to menstruation to benefit most from their medicinal effects.
2. Heat Therapy
Using a heating pad during menstruation is an age-old trick for revealing cramps. Placing a heating pad on your abdomen helps to relax the muscles of your uterus that are the source of your pain. Additionally, heat can increase circulation in your abdomen, which can also contribute to pain reduction. There is even some research that shows heating pads to be more effective than taking over the counter pain relief like Tylenol. The only issue with heating pads is their lack of versatility as you can only use them when relaxing at home. If you want to take advantage of this form of therapy while out and about, try out a heat patch. These are available at most drug stores, and you can simply peel and stick them onto your abdomen for instant, on-the-go relief.
Another great way to engage in heat therapy is by taking a hot bath. This will not only help to relax your abdominal muscles but will also work to relieve abdominal, pelvic, or back pain that is associated with menstruation. You can add some Epsom salt into your bath to further help relieve muscle pain and cramps. Try to soak for at least 15 minutes for maximum effect.
It is known that light to moderate exercise can help reduce some of the pain caused by period cramps. In one study, it was found that women who engaged in at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three days a week for at least eight weeks show significant reduction in their monthly pain. You can work this into your routine by doing something as simple as going for a walk or biking to places you would normally drive.
In addition to aerobic exercise, there is evidence that suggests yoga as another form of exercise that can be helpful in reducing period pain. You can sign up for weekly yoga classes at a studio, or you can find free videos online that will guide you through different types of yoga sessions. The important thing is to try and include some form of movement in your weekly routine to help reduce the amount of menstrual cramps that you experience. Being consistent is key here, so make sure you choose something you like and stick to it.
Having a Less Painful Period
Having less painful cramps may seem impossible but if you follow these tips and tricks, you could be on your way to an easier period. Try to incorporate some light to moderate exercise, take a vitamins for PMS, and engage in heat therapy to better manage your monthly pain. Periods are never going to be something we look forward to, but there are some ways that can help you dread your time of the month a little less.