I don’t know if some realize how lucky they are that they don’t experience menstrual pain. They are a favored group even if they don’t know it yet. For those not so lucky, it can range from a mild discomfort that lasts for few hours to excruciating pain that requires hospitalization or makes you feel like you are going to die. The pain is mostly felt around the lower abdomen, thighs, and back.
There are other health conditions that can cause those familiar monthly cramps such as pregnancy, cysts etc. When young women (mid 20s) suddenly start experiencing menstrual cramps they have not experienced before, it should ring some alarm bells because it can be an indication of a health problem especially if the cramping is away from the usual menstrual period date. Make sure you check with a doctor as it might be as a result of an infection or some other causes and it is not the regular period pain. You can read more about this here. For today, we will discuss the most common period pain and cramping that arises from a woman’s regular monthly circle.
As the time comes for our monthly cycle, our body produces a hormone-like substance called prostaglandins that aids in shedding the lining of the uterus. We tend to feel cramps when this hormone causes contraction on the uterus to shed its lining. The severity of our cramps depends on the amount of prostaglandins produced and our sensitivity to it. More of this hormone leads to more pain and cramping and vice-versa.
Menstrual cramping can differ from month to month due to some changes in perhaps your environment, exercise, diet and nutrition, hormones etc. Some experience pain during every monthly circle while for some, it happened only during some months.
Menstrual cramps tend to begin about a day or two before your period and may last or linger until the end of the cycle. They may also cause fever, chills, nausea, fatigue, bloating, tender stomach, mood swings etc. The good news is that the pain improves as we grow older and after child birth. Teenage and young women tend to have the most severe menstrual pain.
You have probably heard of many advises on a range of areas that people advice to improve or stop menstrual pain including avoiding some types of foods, eating certain foods, being more active and exercising well, back and stomach massage, taking a warm bath, managing stress etc.
While cramping, doctors advice that it is best to eat more plain foods such as raw vegetables, bread, black tea, warm liquids, yoghurt, chicken, fish and avoid spicy, processed, sugary and greasy foods
Ibuprofen is a popular over-the-counter painkiller that people use but when taken continuously for months, it can have negative impacts on the body. You can read more about menstrual cycle and treatment options from this study.
Remedies for Menstrual Pain
There are many suggested methods of managing menstrual cramping but this is the one method that I find being recommended almost by everyone. You might also be familiar with it. It involves placing a heat source such as a hot water bottle, heated head wrap, towel dipped in warm-hot water, a heating pad or another heated object and placing it directly on the skin or on top of your shirt to the lower abdomen . Using the heat source, gently move it around the cramping area like a massage. Once it cools down, reheat it again. Some sources recommend it in place of ibuprofen which is a pain killer commonly used for cramping.
Try it and let me know how effective it was for you. If you have used heat therapy before, please let us know how effective it has been for your cramping in the comments below.
Fenugreek is a wonderful and powerful herb with much studies and research on its benefits to women and their body function. One of its major benefits include hormone balance which is the main cause of of painful menstrual as we said above, the more the hormone is produced, the more pain in your menstrual cramps. When this hormone and the body hormones are well balanced, you might not even feel a thing.
How to use: begin to take fenugreek seeds, powder or capsules about 4 days before you expect your menstrual cycle to being. Take a teaspoon capsules morning and evening totaling a tablespoon a day. If you have already started cramping, take as prescribed to above to balance the on-going production of prostaglandins.
If using it in a capsule form, take as prescribed on the bottle. you can also swallow the seed if you wish. make it a a teaspoon of the seed in the morning and evening.
Where to get it: you can but the seeds from a supermarket and powder or buy the powdered seeds if they have it.
Other hormone balancing foods and practices will be very helpful in ridding yourself of this pain before it begins. I have written an article on balancing hormones using natural foods and supplements that you can easily get even in Nigeria. If you are interested, check it out here
Numerous studies (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.) have been conducted on the use of fresh raw ginger to curb menstrual pain because of its known anti–inflammatory components. All of them have been successful and have deemed ginger as a safe and helpful food that significantly reduced menstrual pain and cramping. Some have even gone as far as to say that it can be used as a substitute for ibuprofen. So before you run to the pharmacy for some pain killer, try some ginger tea first.
It also helps with reducing heavy monthly periods that leave you pale, weak and anemic based on a study of 92 girls. These combined advantages make it a good option to at-least try once and see how your body reacts to it. As we know allergies and reaction to the raw ginger root is rare.
How to use: grate some ginger and add it to some hot water. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes, Add some honey to make a tea or just drink it as is preferably warm. You can also take other forms of ginger such as ginger capsules, teas, powder etc. if you are not able to get the raw ginger.
Cinnamon has anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory components which numerous studies (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) have shown that it is very effective for menstrual pain. Some studies conducted on the efficiency of cinnamon in relation relation to pharmaceutical drugs have shown that they has similar effects in reducing menstrual cramps. Other studies have shown that it can even shorten the period of the cramps. There are claims that cinnamon can induce menstrual flow but there is no clear evidence to support it.
How to use: boil an inch of a cinnamon stick or a teaspoon of the powder to 5 minutes and allow it to cool down. Sieve and drink throughout the day
Where to get it: it is easy to find in the supermarket under the spice section. Both powder and the stick can be used. In the market, you can find it in shops that sell spices.
Most cramping starts before or at the onset of the menstrual flow. It peaks about 12-24 hours after the menstrual cycle begins and mostly ends by the third day. This might seem like a short period but I know how difficult it is to withstand the pain sometimes which is why we need some help in dulling the pain.
This might seem like a short list but I don’t want to repeat other advises I have heard or saw on other sites because I don’t know their effectiveness. This small list is what I am sure will help you during these difficult few hours or days. Some try to find ways of fixing this problem forever but they should be careful because this is a very natural process for the body so by stopping it, it can lead to other health issues that might be more severe that cramping 2-3 days a month. You can in a way fix it forever if you decide to be conscious of your hormone levels.
Don’t forget, menstrual cramps are not forever, they get better with age and after child birth as I said earlier. The unbearable pain you are feeling now can subside to a mild ache that will not interrupt your life in the future. Be a little more patient sister 🙂
I hope you were able to get a solution to your problem from this post. Don’t forget to continue to try to eat healthy and exercise even if it is only few minutes a day. This will help us not just in menstrual cycles but for our overall and general well being.
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