The medical term ‘dysmenorrhea’, commonly known as menstrual cramps or period pains, is a term for the painful cramps that may occur before or during a woman’s menstrual period. There are two types of dysmenorrhea; primary and secondary. The primary dysmenorrhea is common menstrual cramps that has non identifiable cause. It causes pain in the lower abdomen and lower back pain while secondary dysmenorrhea includes pain caused by identifiable medical problem such as uterine fibroid and endometritis. It is caused by a disorder in a woman’s reproductive organ.
Menstrual cramps symptoms include; pain in the lower abdomen, pain in the lower back and thigh, headache, nausea, vomiting, loose stool, constipation, bloating in the belly area and dizziness. Most of the pains felt during the menstrual period are caused by contractions in the uterus. Some women describe the pain to be even more powerful than labour pain. Menstrual cramps are painful but could be maintained. Although, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and other pain killer relieves the pain but here are some natural remedies to suppress the cramping.
- Use heat: the use of heat has shown to help relieve menstrual cramping. Heat is sometimes more effective than over the counter medications such as ibuprofen and many others. Heating pads and hot water bottles could be used to aid relaxing the contracting muscles that cause cramps. Heat pads could be applied to the skin or clothing. If you do not have a heating pads or hot water bottle, then try soaking in a hot bath or taking a hot shower to relax. Putting water in a plastic bottle and wrapping with a cloth or towel and placing on the affected part could also be a nice option. The heat should be placed on the lower abdomen or back depending on where you feel the cramping. It is an alternative for ladies who do not want to turn to medicine to soothe menstrual cramps.
- Drink tea: There are varieties of teas that could be used to soothe cramps. Caffeinated teas should be avoided so you do not increase your cramps with the caffeine because caffeine encourages tension and keeps you dehydrated. Teas like raspberry tea, chamomile tea and ginger tea have anti-inflammatory capabilities to relieve cramps. Fresh homemade ginger tea could help when you drink it every night, after meals. To make ginger tea, cut two or three ginger, trim the skin, slice thinly, add water and allow to boil for at least 10 minutes. You could add honey and lemon juice to taste.
- Improve your diet: Diets that are low in fat and high in vegetables may help to ease monthly cramps. For a change, unsaturated fats found in olive oil and low-fat or fat free dairy is suggested. Avoid vegetable oil, peanut oil, soya beans oil or margarine. Choose coconut oil, real butter or animal fats. You should eat green, leafy vegetables which are rich in vitamin A, C, E, B, K and folates. Vitamins and minerals can aid menstrual pain. Eating food with the right nutrients also help prevent anaemia from menstrual bleeding. Magnesium should also be added to your diet because it has the capacity to regulate the nerve, muscle functioning and relieve pains.
- Take supplements: The intake of fish oil supplements, magnesium, calcium, vitamin A, C, D, E, K and phosphate supplement is another route to period cramp relieve. Research has shown that these vitamins and nutritional supplements can help lessen menstrual cramps when taken daily. Also, ask your doctor or health professional before taking new supplements, especially if you are on medications or contraceptives.
- Exercise: Sleeping would help a great deal but cannot solve it all. You should not sleep all day expecting the pain to go, a little exercise would help. Exercise can help relieve menstrual symptoms including cramping. Exercising helps the body release endorphins which are natural pain-relievers, they boost your mood. Physical activities helps relieve cramps. There are different types of aerobic exercise that could help such as, walking, running, jogging, cycling and swimming. A few body stretches could also help relax the muscle and reduce cramps. You could stretch out your back or abdomen, depending on the areas that hurt.
- Yoga: Yoga is a very good option to distract yourself from the pain. Yoga helps relax your muscles and reduce aches in the lower back, legs and abdomen. When you feel menstrual cramps, you can try yoga poses and make sure you get in some comfortable clothes and put on soothing music.
Here are few yoga poses that could help.
- Head-to-knee forward bend: Sit on the floor with your legs extended forward. Bend the right knee outward to a 90-degree angle and press the right foot into the inner left thigh. Grab the left foot, inhale. Stretch the torso (upper part of the body) over the leg towards the foot. Exhale and bend down from groin. Lengthen and stretch your back instead of rounding it. Make sure you breathe as you hold the pose, extending through the heel and pressuring your sitting bones towards the floor. Hold for 1-3 minutes, then switch sides.
- Carmel pose: Kneel on the floor, hip-width apart. Make sure your shins and feet are pressed firmly to the floor. Rest your hand on the back of your hips with your fingers pointing down. Inhale, lift your chest, and press your shoulder down towards the ribs. Exhale, then push your hips forward as you arch back. To stabilize yourself, rest your hands on your heels. Lift the chest and breathe steadily for 30-60 seconds.