Menstrual cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea or period pains, is the pain associated with menstruation. The pain typically occurs in the lower stomach and lower back and can last anywhere between 1 – 4 days. The pain can be very uncomfortable and for many debilitating.
Period pain is caused as a result of the uterus contracting — meaning it squeezes or cramps up. This makes the lining come off the walls of the uterus and leave the body. When the uterus cramps up, it’s helping the period blood flow out of the vagina.
There is good news however, in this article we will look at a few simple ways to help combat period pain. A lot can be done to relieve cramps by combatting the muscle tightness and inflammation itself so look through our list and see what ways you can ease that time of the month.
Drink more water
It is common to feel bloated when experiencing period pain, drinking 6-8 cups of water a day can massively help tackle bloating. As well, try reducing your intake of salt and avoid alcohol as both encourage fluid retention and further bloating. If you find the taste of water to get boring, try adding in a slice of lemon or lime for a little extra flavour. As well eat food that has a high water content; cucumber, spinach, broccoli to name a few.
Hot water bottle
Placing a hot water bottle or heat pad on your stomach can help to reduce pain. The heat helps to relax the cramping muscles that cause the period pain. Be sure to wrap the hot water bottle in a towel to avoid burning your skin. You can do this whilst either relaxing on a coach or when you’re working sat at your desk during the day.
Warm bath or shower
In the same way a hot water bottle works to relax the cramping muscles in your lower abdomen, so too can a warm bath or a shower. Taking the time to yourself to relax in a nice warm bath can also help lift your mood as well as reduce the pain. It is important to take time to look after yourself and not feel guilty for spending time relaxing as the downtime can often help your productivity once you’re feeling better again.
As menstruation cramps are caused by tightening of the muscles it is a great idea to spend at least 5 minutes a day massaging the affected area, typically the lower stomach or lower back. This further allows muscles to relax and eases cramping. As well, massage will encourage blood flow which will help the body pass blood which is needed for a healthy period. In the same way as a warm bath or a hot water bottle can help you relax so to can massaging.
Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor; this means that drinks such as coffee constrict blood vessels and this in turn tightens the vessels that feed the uterus. By reducing your caffeine intake, you in turn allow for better blood flow and reduced tightness. Also taking a break from caffeine every once in a while may have other benefits to your overall health.
Omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil can go a long way to lower inflammation. Several recent studies have found that women who took fish oil had less menstrual pain than those who took a placebo. As well as a wide range of other health benefits, fish oil is great for helping with menstrual cramps.
Vitamin D, E, Calcium Citrate & Magnesium, have all been suggested to reduce pain experienced during menstruation. Eating foods high in these vitamins may help to reduce period pain as well as promote good general health.
Tried all these and nothing is working?
Sometimes the cramps are just too painful. In fact, A 2017 YouGov survey found that 91% of women experience period pain at some point and 57% say this has adversely affected their ability to work. Fortunately, every year better medical treatments are created to help reduce period pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory treatments are shown to have a very positive effect on menstrual cramps, by working to relieve swelling, redness and inflammation. Be sure to browse our full range of period pain treatments that are all NHS approved and available for next day delivery.
Naproxen is a medicine that reduces inflammation and pain in joints and muscles and has become a popular medicine for treating period pain. It can be taken as a liquid or in tablet form, see package for usage instructions.
Mefenamic acid is another useful medicine for combatting period pain. Mefenamic acid works by blocking a naturally occurring chemical called cyclo-oxygenase enzymes, the body produces fewer chemicals called prostaglandins. Some of these prostaglandins are produced in parts of the body that are injured and can cause pain and inflammation. By blocking these from producing, Mefenamic Acid helps relieve pain and inflammation.