The familiar monthly visitor that no woman looks forward to. . .her period. While a necessary part of being a healthy, fertile woman, a woman’s period involves a slew of symptoms that most of us would rather do without. Some women experience debilitating cramping that causes them to miss days of work or school each month. But synthetic hormone therapies and other medical interventions often come with undesirable side effects. Check out these 10 natural remedies for PMS cramps.
What Causes Menstrual Cramps
Most females experience pain of varying intensity at some point during their period. Studies suggest that 10% of women endure pain that is so bad that they’re unable to carry out their usual daily activities on one to three days each month.
Every month, the lining of a woman’s womb builds up in preparation for pregnancy. When she does not become pregnant, this lining is shed at the end of the menstrual cycle, when she has her period. For this to happen, To shed this lining, the muscles of the womb contract and relax in an irregular rhythm. This helps the tissue lining the womb to detach and flow out of the body through the cervix and the vagina.
These muscle contractions sometimes cause only mild discomfort, but other times they cause painful cramps, called dysmenorrhea. Cramping may occur in the lower abdomen, the lower back, and even in the legs. It’s usually worse for adolescents, and for most women, period pain generally decreases after the age of 20. Women who have heavier periods often have more intense pain.
Natural Remedies for PMS Cramps
Magnesium has a relaxing effect on muscles and may ease PMS uterine contractions. One study showed that women with lower levels of Mg experienced more PMS pain than others. The study also showed that combining vitamin B6 and magnesium together brought even more relief to period pain sufferers.
Acupressure is a technique derived from traditional Chinese medicine. The technique involves massage or the application of pressure to specific points on the body. Women can perform the techniques on themselves as a form of self-care. Many different acupressure points may bring relief for abdominal and back pain, as well as bloating and other PMS complaints.
Heat helps relax muscles, and many women report relief during their periods from warm compresses, hot water bottles, heating pads, and warm baths. One of my favorite ways to relax and pamper my female organs during my period is with a soothing castor oil pack.
Many women choose to abstain from sex during their periods, but a little hop in the sack may actually reduce period cramps. This is because having an orgasm increases blood flow to the uterus, which can relieve cramps. Additionally, orgasms trigger a release of chemicals, including oxytocin and dopamine that may help as well.
While most women don’t want to engage in strenuous exercise when experiencing period discomfort, some studies show that gentle exercise and stretching that causes a release of endorphins may actually bring relief. For example, this study of women reported fewer physical premenstrual symptoms associated with a lower risk of menstrual pain after implementing regular, short-term yoga practices.
Dehydration can worsen menstrual cramps. Be sure to drink lots of water around the time of your period, and avoid excess salt, alcohol, caffeine, another dehydration culprits.
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help relieve menstrual cramps, especially when taken before cramping begins. These anti-inflammatory drugs help block the release of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances that trigger uterine cramping.
Essential oils affect the limbic system to reduce emotional moodiness that sometimes contributes to PMS pain. But they may provide even more relief than that. In a 2013 study, women who applied an essential oil massage reported decreased severity and duration of menstrual cramps. What’s more is that some women even who used the essential oil blend reported a decrease in menstrual flow. Check out this post about PMS roller blends for a recipe!
Some herbs may also decrease the severity of dysmenorrhea. Fennel contains antispasmodic agents and can lessen uterine contractions when taken before onset of cramps. In one review of studies, ginger was found to be as effective as some NSAIDS at relieving menstrual pain. Other herbs that may bring relief include chaste tree and cramp bark.
During your period, make a point to give your body a little extra TLC. Making sure you get adequate sleep, eating a healthy, balanced diet, and drinking plenty of water will definitely go a long way to soothe the pains of menstruation. In addition, a relaxing massage encourages blood circulation and relaxation for pain relief too. Allow yourself to rest a bit more than usual as your body deals with the monthly hormonal changes that occur after ovulation.
Do you have other natural remedies for relieving PMS cramps? Comment and share them below!
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