6 Ways To Decrease Painful Cramps

6 Ways To Decrease Painful Cramps

More than half of folks who menstruate experience painful periods (also called dysmenorrhea). 

The most common reason for period pain is menstrual cramps. Cramps happen when your uterus contracts to shed the lining that’s been grown in preparation for pregnancy. 

If you live in fear of those days spent curled around a heat pack, these 5 tips to decrease painful cramps are here to give you some relief, right from the comfort of home. 

How can I stop the pain?

  1. Try a TENS machine

    TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. A TENS machine works by sending a small amount of electricity through sticky pads (attached to your body). The current goes through your muscles and helps to dull pain. 

    Some folks find that the TENS machine can give them good relief from period pain.

  2. Do some gentle yoga poses

    Because yoga combines gentle movement and breathing, it can help to lower stress and to improve blood flow to your uterus. Along with a release of endorphins (nature’s painkiller hormone), the improved blood flow can ease bloating and painful cramps. 

    Check out Yoga with Adriene ‘Yoga for Cramps and PMS’.

  3. Use heat

    Like any other muscle in the body, your uterus can be relaxed by applying heat to your stomach, lower back...or both!

    Studies like this one, from Evidence-Based Nursing, have shown that heat can be as effective as ibuprofen in treating period cramps. 

    If you have a heat pack handy, use that. You can also take a soothing warm shower or bath with essential oils (clary sage and lavender work well for cramps).  

  4. Use pain relief

    Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine (like ibuprofen) can help to ease painful cramps. It does this by reducing the amount of prostaglandins in your body. Prostaglandins are what cause contractions in your uterus, and levels are highest on the first day of your period. 

    Make sure to stay well hydrated and also try using heat packs to help.

  5. Drink herbal teas

    Caffeine-free herbal teas (like peppermint tea or rosehip tea) can help to reduce cramps. They support your digestive system and can support your muscles to relax. 

    And, it can be pretty comforting to have a hot cuppa when you’re feeling poorly.

  6. Eat for your hormones

Avoid high estrogen foods as they can build up a thicker uterine lining which can make your period more painful. 
Try having lighter meals during this time so as not to strain your digestion and add to muscle tension in your stomach.
Add in some healthy fats (avocado, olive oil), and fibre-rich veggies like sweet potato or celery. These help with digestion, energy levels and mood. 
Try to avoid things like caffeine, alcohol and high-salt foods right now as they can lead to hormone imbalances and water retention (bloating). 

If your cramps are really severe, it’s good to chat to your doctor and make sure there’s no other reason for this, such as endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome. 

 

Did you find this article helpful? 

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