They can last for a day or a week. The pain might be a dull, constant ache or a sharp stab. Maybe you push through them, or perhaps you curl up on the couch. Whatever the case, you know they’re probably coming every month: the dreaded period cramps.
If you’re lucky, the abdominal and lower-back pain linked to your period may be minor. But for some women, the intense pain can feel worse than a punch in the gut. Life keeps going, though, and so must you. Try these seven strategies to relieve the cramps so you won’t skip a beat. For more details, you can visit Missoula Pain clinic.
1. Take Birth Control Pills
As the name implies, birth control pills were invented to prevent pregnancy. Fortunately, that’s not all they can do. Taking a birth control pill every day may reduce acne, relieve migraines, and even soothe an aching abdomen.
During your period, your body releases a hormone (prostaglandin) that triggers uterine contractions. The higher the level of this hormone, the stronger your cramps. The pill helps control how much prostaglandin is flowing through your body. Pregnancy prevention, clearer skin, and less period pain — that’s a winning combination!
2. Eat Healthier
When you’re on your period and uncomfortable, comfort food can feel like your friend. Who hasn’t binged on pizza and ice cream during Aunt Flo’s monthly visit? It may be tempting, but avoid grabbing for that deep-dish pie or that bag of chips in the pantry. You’ll only feel more bloated, and your cramps could get worse.
Instead, go the healthy route and choose foods that fight inflammation to ease your pain. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and the calcium in leafy green veggies may untwist those cramped abdominal muscles. If you like blueberries and cherries, chow down! Make these foods part of your regular diet to set yourself up for better cramp-relief success every month.
3. Stay Hydrated
During your period, it’s a great idea to drink up. No, not alcohol (or even coffee) — stick with lots of water instead. It might sound like a recipe for more bloating, but downing six to eight glasses a day may reduce cramps.
If you can’t stomach plain water, don’t worry! Try adding mint, lemon, or berries to tall glasses of H2O for flavour. If you’re a tea drinker, try ginger or chamomile — both have been found to decrease painful cramps. The important thing is to find a flavour or two you like, making it easier to keep yourself hydrated.
4. Warm Things Up
Do you love the heated seats in your car when your back hurts? Give your abdomen the same love when period cramps come knocking. Hot water bottles, heating pads, or heat wraps can all do the trick and help your muscles relax.
Applying heat just slightly higher than your body temperature often works as well as pain relievers. It’s a great option if you don’t have ibuprofen or acetaminophen in the cabinet. Don’t stress if you don’t have a heating pad. Hopping in a hot bath or shower can work the same magic.
5. Reach for Over-the-Counter Meds
Speaking of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, either works well to combat stabby or achy period pain. You can even add aspirin or naproxen sodium (Aleve) to your list of meds to keep on hand. If you know your period is coming, consider taking a dose the day before to get ahead of the discomfort.
As with any medication, follow the directions closely to ensure you’re not taking too much. All these medications offer pain relief, but they work in different ways. So alternating between the meds may be helpful. This also makes it easier for your liver to process them.
6. Get Moving
If you’re curled up in pain on the couch, hitting the pavement or pumping iron might sound awful. However, exercise can do your period body some good. Once you’re moving, your brain releases chemicals called endorphins. These are your body’s natural painkillers — yay for free pain relief!
Working out during your period is safe, but it doesn’t have to be super intense. Going for a walk or taking a swim can get your blood pumping enough to reduce cramps. Looking to destress while you exercise? Try yoga or tai chi to stretch your muscles in a more relaxed way.
7. Get to the (Pressure) Point
You’ve probably heard of getting triggered. With your period, it can be a good thing. Two Eastern medicine techniques — acupuncture and acupressure — focus on your body’s pain-relief trigger points. The great news is these strategies work quickly.
Thin acupuncture needles stimulate certain spots that regulate abdominal blood flow, lessen muscle cramps, and relax your nerves. An acupuncturist can show you how to activate those spots with your hands (that’s acupressure). By simply applying pressure to certain points on your back, feet, hands, and abdomen you may relieve your period pain.
Unless you’re using birth control to skip your period, you’ll likely face some level of cramping every month. It’s nearly inevitable, but you don’t have to suffer through the worst of it. Try one (or several) of these tactics to minimize your discomfort. You may find your period won’t be so bad after all.