Holistic Ways to Reduce Menstrual Cramps

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Ladies, we all know how that “special time” of the month can affect us. Not all women experience dysmenorrhea, menstrual pain, but those of us who do can testify that it negatively affects our daily routine.

What exactly is the cause of the dreaded monthly menstrual cramp?

During your period, hormone-like substances called prostaglandins are released. Prostaglandins trigger the contraction of your uterus, which is what causes the release of the uterus lining. Higher levels of prostaglandins correlate with more intense contractions and a higher level of menstrual cramps. When your uterus contracts for a prolonged period of time, it can cause your uterus to cramp. Severe contractions can restrict blood vessels to the uterus resulting in limited oxygen supply to the uterus and results in pain.

It is recommended to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Aleve, Advil, Tylenol) a few days before you start your menstrual cycle to reduce levels of prostaglandins. Other than taking medication, there are other methods to reduce your cramps.

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Here are four natural ways to ease your menstrual cramps:

1. Heating Pad

Reason: A heating pad or heating patch, like Thermacare heat wraps, are useful to reduce your cramps because it helps relax the muscles of the uterus and improves blood flow and oxygen supply.

How: Place the heating pad on your lower abdomen for 15 – 20 minutes. You can repeat this multiple times throughout the day as needed. If you choose to use a heating patch, you can keep the patch on your lower abdomen until the heating effects wear off.

2. Aerobic Exercise

Reason: Aerobic exercise produces the release of endorphins in our body. Endorphins activate the body’s opiate receptors, producing an analgesic effect. In addition, it helps burn off prostaglandins a lot faster, resulting in less prolonged muscle contractions.

How: It is recommended to participate in a low-intensity aerobic exercise such as jogging, walking, swimming etc. This should be done at least three times a week for a duration of thirty minutes.

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3. Essential Oils

Reason: There are several essential oils that would be beneficial to reduce your menstrual cycle symptoms. Different essential oils have different benefits.

Lavender

Lavender is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It has been found that lavender oils are beneficial for reducing muscle tension and stress.

Clary Sage

Clary Sage is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It helps regulates menstrual cycles, and alleviates symptoms of menopause.

Peppermint

Peppermint helps to reduce muscle tension, which can help decrease menstrual cycle symptoms like low back pain, abdominal pain etc.

How: Rub a few drops onto your lower abdomen or low back and apply a warm compress.

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 4. Eat Less Saturated Fats

Reason: A diet high in fats, trans fats and hydrogenated fats can lead to excessive inflammation throughout your body and can possibly increase your menstrual cycle symptoms, resulting in more discomfort and pain during your period.

How: It is recommended to lower the saturated fats in your diet and to eat more of a plant-based diet. Studies show that women who eat less saturated fats and more of a plant-based diet have fewer menstrual cramps and less pain. You can implement this into your routine by eating a diet mostly of vegetables, fruits, seeds, herbs and nuts.

Cramps are a buzzkill, but they don’t have to be. Less days of curling up in a fetal position and more days of having control over your period are straight ahead! Give these techniques a try or share them with a friend. Let us know what helped you! Also, keep in mind if you suffer from severe menstrual cramps, it would be best to visit your primary physician for a check up.

What are your go-to remedies for cramps?

Images via Juliann Cheryl

Cindy (Kimmi) Dao is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and founder/writer of Free2Live. She has a passion to empower women to embrace themselves for the way they are and to treasure their individuality. As a way of encouraging women to love themselves, she guides them in how to take care of their lives through health and fitness.

5 COMMENTS
  • Christian Ontog August 29, 2017

    This is very helpful! I will totally have my wife read this. As a man and a husband, I don’t really know what to do when it is my wife’s “time of the month”, aside from of course dealing with her hormonal changes on emotions (lol) I would also suffer on trying to give her advice on how to make her pain go away from menstrual cramps, reading this post make me understand what’s going through her body. As of now only heating pads are the remedy we know, we would love to share how it worked for her here is our site:: http://www.heatingpadreviews.com

  • Alexa August 15, 2017

    I was taking birth control for my cramps/acne for years and decided to switch to evening primrose oil about 6 months ago after a lot of great reviews. My hormonal acne cleared up almost all the way, and my cramping pain has gone down significantly! It’s been wonderful, and I love knowing I’m taking the more natural route! I recommend this to any of my friends looking for a more natural solution.

  • Hannah Supangkat July 17, 2017

    All the women in my family always say to not eat ice cream on cramps. We also cut down on caffeine, and that seems to help.

  • The last thing I feel like doing while I have period cramps is exercise – I can’t imagine anyone wanting to do that. But it makes sense that it somehow helps!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    • Anonymous July 15, 2017

      I feel you on that one! Totally true! This tip is more of a life style change so not just exercising when you are on your period but making it a habit to do a low level activity 3 times a week for 30 minutes every week, even when you are not on your period.

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