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.
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.
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 is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It has been found that lavender oils are beneficial for reducing muscle tension and stress.
Clary Sage is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It helps regulates menstrual cycles, and alleviates symptoms of menopause.
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.
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