Period Cramps: Why do I get them and How Can I help them?

Menstrual cramps are the most common problem that women face. These cramps can even lead to bloating, headache, or vomiting. If you want to learn why women experience this problem and how you can manage these cramps, you need to read the article. We will also discuss how you can stay active and comfortable even in your menstruation period. 

Why Do Menstrual Cramps Happen?

Many women feel discomfort around their lower back, abdomen, and thighs during the menstruating period. 

While you are menstruating, the muscles of your womb relax and contract to clean the built-up lining. Mostly, women feel menstrual cramps when their muscles are working. This may also lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches. 

Researchers are not entirely sure why some females feel cramps while others stay active and healthy. However, some factors lead to excessive pain, including:

• Giving birth to first child

• Experiencing high blood flow

• Being younger or less than the age of 20

• Having sensitivity or production of prostaglandins

Can Severe Period Cramps Be a Sign of Something Else?

In some cases, period cramp can be a sign of a medical problem, including:

Endometriosis

This medical condition happens when the tissues similar to the tissues present inside the uterus start to grow outside of your uterus, generally adhering to your ovaries, bowels, and bladder.

Uterine Fibroids

Fibroids grow on uterine walls and are noncancerous. They can grow in different sizes, from bulky masses to specks. 

Adenomyosis

This condition occurs when the tissues that usually line the uterus start to develop inside the organ’s wall. 

If you feel severe pain, it’s better to consult a doctor to identify any health condition. However, here we have mentioned some techniques that can help you reduce or lower menstrual cramps. 

Alternative Medicine Treatments for Cramps

There is no significant evidence that can prove the effectiveness of alternative therapies. But the following are some alternative treatments that can help you ease your pain. 

Acupuncture

This treatment involves inserting thin needles in your skin at specific parts of your body. Many women use this method to get relief from menstrual cramps.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS is a device that a professional connects to your skin. It includes an adhesive patch containing electrodes in them, which helps send electric signals to your nerves. This process can help you by stimulating the development of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers. 

Herbal Medicine

Some herbs or herbal medicines can help you elevate pain, such as pycnogenol, which reduces pain intensity. 

Acupressure

This method stimulates specific parts of your body, giving gentle pressure to your muscles. Although there is no proper evidence of the acupressure’s impact on the cramps, it appears that acupressure can help you ease period cramps. 

Home Remedies

Many home remedies can help you manage your cramps in a better way. The best part is that there are no adverse effects of these methods. 

Practice Yoga

Whether it’s the relaxing impact of the poses or stretching of your body and muscles, regularly performing yoga can reduce pain. In a study of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 20 students were asked to perform yoga for an hour once a week until three months. The research shows less period distress and cramps than 30 females who didn’t practice yoga. 

You can do yoga during your menstrual time or before your cycle. However, some professionals suggest avoiding performing inverted poses, such as shoulder stand, during menstruation to prevent disturbance in your natural flow. 

Apply Heat

Using heat on your lower back and abdomen to relieve pain is one of the oldest methods. A research was conducted that involved 147 females of age between 18 and 30 years. This research showed that those women who used heat patches at 40 degrees Celsius got similar benefits to using ibuprofen.

If you don’t have a heating pad or hot water bottle, you can use a hot towel or take a warm bath. Not to mention, you can create your DIY heating pad by following the said procedure. 

  • Sew two pieces of clothes and leave a hole at the top.
  • Fill it up with uncooked rice. Then sew the opening.
  • Put it in the microwave, and set any temperature – don’t overheat it.
  • If necessary, let it cool. You can also wrap it in a towel if your homemade pad is too hot to place on your body. 
  • Reuse this pad whenever you want by heating it in the microwave. 

Drink Herbal Teas

Some herbal teas can help elevate or reduce period cramps. Although studies on herbal teas for cramps relief are minimal, teas have been used for reducing menstrual pain for centuries in several cultures. 

People also use peppermint and chamomile teas for pain and cramps. This is because they give calming effects to the body. Additionally, teas made from ginger, cramp bark, or fennel are also suitable for cramps. 

Massage with Essential Oils 

If you massage your body with some aromatic essential oils, you can relieve pain, according to The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology research. Researchers asked 48 women to massage with either synthetic fragrances or essential oils on their lower abdomen during the menstrual period. 

Both of these elements reduced pain, but women who used essential oils had shown better results. This research also shows that essential oils can also reduce the pain duration to almost half a day. You can use oils such as clary sage, lavender, and marjoram essential oil. 

Make sure to use these oils carefully and read the guidelines written on the product before using them. Furthermore, purchase high-quality oil to prevent any adverse effects. You also need to dilute essential oils in a lotion, unscented cream, or carrier oils before applying them to your skin. 

Lifestyle Changes

If you add some healthy food items to your diet and reduce consumption of some food, you can reduce the cramps and pain. Here is what you need to learn. 

Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Anti-inflammatory foods can give you natural relief from pain. Not to mention, these foods also have a delicious taste, and they can help you relax the uterus and improve blood flow. You can eat pineapples, tomatoes, berries, and spices such as garlic, turmeric, or ginger. 

Apart from these, walnuts, almonds, leafy green vegetables, and fatty fish, such as salmon, can also help you to stay calm and relax during your menstrual days. 

Avoid Certain Foods

It is important to note that not every food is good to consume during your period. Some food items can cause water retention and bloat, including:

• Alcohol

• Fatty foods except for fish

• Salty foods

• Caffeine

• Carbonated beverages

Keeping yourself away from these foods can help you reduce tension and cramps. You can choose alternatives like hot water with lemon, fruits like raspberries and strawberries, and mint or ginger teas. 

Add Exercises in Your Routine

Exercise is the best activity that can help you reduce the effect of several health conditions. It keeps you healthy, fit, and active. When you perform less strenuous exercises during your cramp days, they help you release endorphins that reduce pain, make you feel happy, and relax your muscles. 

Just do simple exercises for 15 minutes to deal with severe pain and cramps. 

Manage Your Stress

Stress is something that damages your overall health. Also, it can make your cramps worse. In this case, you need to opt for stress-relieving strategies, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, exercise, and any stress-relieving technique. 

If you are still confused about how you can reduce your stress, you can use guided imagery. In this activity, you need to close your eyes and start taking deep breathes. After that, start imagining a safe and calm place that you love. Try to stay focused on your imagination for at least a few minutes. Also, do slow and deep breathing during the process. 

Bottom Line

Menstrual cramps can be extremely discomforting and painful. But with the help of the mentioned tips, you can reduce the pain to some extent. It is important to note that you need to take this matter seriously if you feel cramps that hurt your routine activities. For this reason, it’s better to consult a health professional who can identify health conditions, if any. They can also help you use the best methods to lower your pain.