10 Home Remedies for Menstrual Cramps
The severity of menstrual cramps can range from being a slight nuisance for a day or two, to intolerable pain that can last for several days and impede on your everyday life. Menstrual cramps are an unfortunate fact of life, and most often happen just before or during the start of your period.
The pain that you feel when experiencing menstrual cramps is caused by uterine contractions, but some women experience much more severe pain than other others. Women who experience more intense menstrual cramps usually experience them in the earlier part of the menstrual cycle, and the cramps tend to last longer as well.
So what causes menstrual cramps?
The point of uterine contractions is to help the uterus shed its lining. Hormone-like substances called prostaglandins help trigger this reaction, and higher levels of prostaglandins are generally associated with more severe menstrual cramps. In most cases, more severe menstrual cramps are just a normal part of life, but in some cases they can be a symptom of a more serious underlying medical condition.
How to know if your menstrual cramps are severe?
- OTC (over the counter) medication does not help your condition improve
- The pain as a result of menstrual cramps is so severe that it interferes with your daily life
- Menstrual cramps often come with heavy bleeding or clotting
If you experience severe menstrual cramps it’s a good idea to see a doctor. It is possible you have one of the following underlying medical conditions:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Cervical stenosis
- The result of an intrauterine device
If you experience severe menstrual cramps it’s a good idea to see your doctor. If you experience regular menstrual cramps and want to find a natural and healthy way to fight them, here are 10 home remedies for menstrual cramps:
#1 – Exercise This is probably the most effective prophylactic for just about every possible ailment, and it works with menstrual cramps as well. Studies have shown that physical activity can help ease menstrual cramp pain. It also shows that being in better physical shape can also mean experiencing milder period pain as well3.
#2 – Heat Applying heat is a very effective way of easing your menstrual cramp pain. In fact, it can be just as effective as OTC medication4. Soaking in a hot bath, using a heating pad, a heat patch or a hot water bottle on the lower part of your abdomen are all great ways of easing menstrual cramps. Heat will help the muscles in your uterus relax and these are the same muscles that cause the pain in the first place.
#3 – Essential oils There are some essential oils that can help ease your menstrual cramps, all you have to do is massage them into your abdomen. The most commonly used and most effective oils for reducing menstrual cramps are:
Most essential oils are very potent and therefore it’s a good idea to mix these with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or jojoba oil. A carrier oil is a safe and effective way to dilute essential oils
#4 – Yoga Yoga can be effective at helping relieve cramps. One study found that women who attended 60 minutes of yoga class once per week for 12 weeks in a row, had a significant reduction in the amount of pain which that experienced during their period. If you want to give this a try, make sure to find a class that combines the physical and relaxation components of yoga into one class.
#5 – Supplements There are many studies that show different types of supplements and their effects on reducing menstrual cramps. It’s not yet understood how they work, but some supplements show a lot of potential when it comes to reducing period pain. Here are the most commonly used and effective supplements for helping you deal with your pain.
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B6 and B1
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin D
- Omega 3 fatty acids and fish oil
#6 – Avoid certain foods and drinks There are some foods that can help with your menstrual cramps and pain, and there are some foods that need to be avoided. Here is what you need to avoid just before and during your period to help reduce pain:
- Salt and salty foods
- Fatty foods
- Fried foods
One study found that a low fat vegetarian diet can help reduce menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms.
#7 – Keep yourself hydrated Keeping yourself hydrated is something that should be a part of your lifestyle. It’s not only super healthy but it can also go along way in helping reduce your menstrual cramps. If you’re dehydrated you have a greater likelihood of experiencing abdominal cramps.
It’s recommended that you should drink around 8 ounce glasses of water per day, and even more than that if it’s hot outside. It’s a good idea to keep a glass of water on your bedside table, and drink the whole glass before you get out of bed in the morning. That way, your body is hydrated properly first thing in the morning.
#8 – Acupressure Acupressure is an old Chinese medical treatment that’s been around for thousands of years and used to treat a myriad of different health conditions, and it can also help reduce menstrual pain. This treatment involves using your fingers to put pressure on specific parts of your body to help reduce period pain.
According to one study, using your fingers to rub circles on your calf at a specific point just above the ankle can help relieve your menstrual cramps.
#9 – Foods to eat Just as there are foods to avoid, there are foods you should be eating to help reduce your menstrual cramps. Here are the best foods to eat that will also help ease your period pain:
- Water rich fruits
- Leafy greens
- Dark chocolate
- Flaxseed oil
- Peppermint tea
#10 – Reduce stress This one is a bit of a no-brainer. If exercise is the best prophylactic, then stress is the complete opposite. Stress is responsible for many illnesses and medical conditions as a direct or secondary culprit. There are many things you can do to relieve stress in your life, here are some good ideas to get you started:
- Go for a massage regularly
- Use candles at home
- Listening to relaxing music
- Talking to your friends and family
- Eating right
- Having a good laugh
Menstrual cramps are a fact of life, but you can help increase your chances of avoiding a lot of the pain that comes with them. Using the natural and pharmaceutical free path is usually the most healthy and long term solution.
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Menstrual Cramps References and Menstrual Cramps Information
- Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/severe-menstrual-cramps#causes
- Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/severe-menstrual-cramps#diagnosis
- Pub Med: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9525266/
- Mayo Clinic: https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/home-remedies-managing-menstrual-cramps/
- Pub Med: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27315239/
- Penn State Hershey: http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productid=107&pid=33&gid=000052
- Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/how-to-get-rid-of-cramps#hydration
- Pub Med: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10674588/
- Wiley Online Library: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2004.03236.x
- US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7098110/