Tips for Pain-free Periods
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists(1) do not consider menstrual cramps as a sign of any severe health condition unless you also have some other accompanying symptoms. To help ease period pains, here are some tips you can follow. However, if you are experiencing severe period cramps and are not getting any relief despite following some of these tips, then you should consider consulting your doctor so that any serious underlying medical condition can be ruled out.
Tips for Pain-free Periods
Changing Your Diet
Research carried out by the Georgetown University School of Medicine(2), has shown that decreasing the amount of fat in your diet, while at the same time increasing the amount of fresh vegetables in your diet has a positive effect and helps ease your cramps as well. A diet that is low in fat helps reduce the overall levels of inflammation within the body. A vegetarian and low-fat diet will not only help your health overall, but it is also going to have an indirect, but noticeable, effect on your menstrual cramps.
Swap out the unhealthy fats such as saturated fats that are typically found in animal products and opt for eating healthier fats like unsaturated fats that can be found in olive oil. According to the American Heart Association (AHA)(3), you should try to obtain 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories from healthy fats such as the ones found in nuts, fish, and vegetable oils. A balanced meal is essential, and you should also include a lot of colors in your meal. The more colors there are in your plate, the healthier it is.
Pain Killers May Help With The Inflammation
Many women do not prefer to take medication for a soothing period cramps. However, moderate use of pain killers such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), like Aleve (naproxen) or Advil (ibuprofen) can provide relief. Menstrual cramps happen because of the local release of chemicals known as prostaglandins. NSAIDs decrease the production of prostaglandin and bring about a decrease in overall pain and inflammation.
However, you should always check with your doctor to ensure that NSAIDs are the right option of drugs for you, especially if you have a history of kidney disease or internal bleeding. Also, read the instructions on the label for the right dosage information so that you don't accidentally take too many pills.
Herbal Tea Can Help
Sipping on certain herbal teas can provide relief from menstrual cramps. Research has shown that herbal teas can offer a little bit of relief in menstrual pain, but they can help. This is because some of the herbs present in these teas act like estrogen. However, you should talk to your doctor before you start using these teas, especially if you have a history of taking blood-thinning drugs or if you have some form of hormone-related cancer.
An ordinary herbal tea that many women use for getting relief from menstrual discomfort is cramp bark. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore(4), research has shown that boiling two teaspoons of cramp bark in one cup of water, letting it simmer for around 15 to 20 minutes, and drinking it for at least three to four times a day will help in menstrual cramps. However, if you are taking diuretics for blood pressure or if you are on lithium, then it is a must that you do not begin taking any type of herbal tea without the advice of your doctor.
Getting Help From Acupuncture
Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese practice of therapy, is known to help provide relief when you are experiencing menstrual cramps. Acupuncture helps relax the nervous system and increase the blood flow to your internal organs. Acupuncture is also known to have anti-inflammatory effects.
In January 2011, a study published in Cochrane Database by researchers from The University of Western Sydney looked at six studies that looked at the effects of acupuncture on menstrual cramps(5). The researching team compared acupuncture with no other treatment or any other conventional treatment (for example, any anti-inflammatory drugs), on at least 673 women participants. In another four research studies, the researchers looked at the effects of acupuncture versus no other conventional treatment or no other treatments in 271 women. All the studies showed that both acupuncture and acupressure helps decrease menstrual pain, but the researchers concluded that more in-depth evaluation was required.
Increase your Water Intake
Menstrual cramps cause a lot of discomfort in women on a monthly basis. When you increase your intake of water, it helps ease the bloating. Bloating is what makes period symptoms worse. So it is recommended that you start drinking at least 6 to 8 glasses of water each day, particularly when you have your period. Adding a wedge f lemon or a few mint leaves to plain water can make it more palatable and help you drink more water.
At the same time, you should reduce your intake of salt, which will only increase bloating and fluid retention. Also avoid alcohol, which will only serve to promote dehydration. Some women also experience vomiting or diarrhea along with heir period cramps, and in such situations, it is all the more important to drink more water to help replace the fluids your body is losing.
There are many things you can do to get relief from menstrual cramps. To begin with, getting a good night's sleep is something that will help a great deal when you have menstrual cramps. A warm bath might also be just the thing you need to relax your tense muscles and soothe the pain. If you find that home remedies and other tips are not helping in controlling your menstrual cramps, then you should consult your doctor as they might prescribe birth control pills or other medications that will help treat your dysmenorrhea.
- Acog.org. (2019). Dysmenorrhea: Painful Periods - ACOG. [online] Available at: https://www.acog.org/patients/FAQS/Dysmenorrhea-Painful-Periods [Accessed 8 Jun. 2019].
- Barnard ND, e. (2019). Diet and sex-hormone binding globulin, dysmenorrhea, and premenstrual symptoms. - PubMed - NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10674588 [Accessed 8 Jun. 2019].
- www.heart.org. (2019). The American Heart Association Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations. [online] Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/aha-diet-and-lifestyle-recommendations#.Vtie3vlVhHx [Accessed 8 Jun. 2019].
- Umms.org. (2019). University of Maryland Medical Center. [online] Available at: https://www.umms.org/ummc [Accessed 8 Jun. 2019].
- Smith CA, e. (2019). Acupuncture for primary dysmenorrhoea. - PubMed - NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21249697 [Accessed 8 Jun. 2019].
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