15 Best Ways to Avoid Period Cramps and Survive That Time of the Month

11. Cut out some foods for a while As we’ve said, there are plenty of ways to make yourself feel better at that time of the… Simi - May 7, 2018

The population of the world now stands at over 7.6 billion human beings, and more than half of us are female. We come from hundreds of different countries and cultures, with different practices and beliefs. We eat different foods, and we wear different clothes, but there’s one thing that unites us as women, and that’s periods. More specifically, period pain and the other discomfort that afflicts us every month. Many women wish they could change places with men for those few days of the month because of the discomfort they experience.

Menstrual cramps can strike before or during your period, and many women experience them routinely. These cramps can be felt in the lower abdomen and back and can range from mild to severe. You might also experience aching in the hips and inner thighs, as well as an upset stomach. Doctors might refer to period pains as ‘dysmenorrhea.’

The cause of these pains is the contraction of the uterus (womb), which is made up mostly of muscle. If the contractions are strong during menstruation, the uterus can press on nearby blood vessels. This causes the oxygen supply to the uterus to be cut off briefly, causing pain and cramps.

Cramps usually begin after ovulation, which is when the ovum (egg) is released from the ovary and moves down the fallopian tube. Pain usually starts 1 or 2 days before menstruation begins, and lasts for 2 to 4 days. Some women experience extremely severe pain and bleeding during their monthly cycle. In fact, some women are compelled to consider surgery as a solution to their almost constant discomfort. Here are 15 ways you can ease those lady pains and other discomforts during your time of the month…

1. Apply heat

A great way to relieve menstrual cramps is to try applying heat to your abdomen, back, or wherever the pain is. Try a hot water bottle, heat wrap or a heating pad applied to the area. You’ll be amazed at how much relief you can find from just a little topical heat. You can find these warming items at the drugstore or at lots of online stores.

The reason that continuing the application of heat works for period cramps is that heat helps the muscles to relax. In fact, it was proposed that the continuous application of heat to the affected areas might even work as well as ibuprofen for period cramps. And this is what they found out.

Scientists studied a group of women between the ages of 18 and 30. All the subjects who took part in the study suffered from period pain. The study divided the participants into two groups. One group applied a heat patch that had been heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit to the area in which they felt period pains. The women in the other group were given ibuprofen for their cramps.

The study found that the two groups actually experienced similar relief from the two treatments. In other words, the topical application of heat worked just as well as taking ibuprofen for the pain. If you don’t have anything like a hot water bottle, heat patch, heat wrap or heating pad handy, try using a warm towel instead. And if you have a cat, this is the perfect way for your feline friend to lend a little warmth. Place the kitty cat on your abdomen, and feel the way the warmth dissolves your pain away. You also get some wonderful kitty love!

2. Take a warm bath

As with the techniques mentioned above, a warm bath is another way to allow heat to melt away your pain. A bath is also a fantastic way of relaxing your body and mind. Fill the tub with warm water, and add some bath salts to help you relax. Lavender is the perfect kind to pick, as lavender is one of the most soothing and relaxing herbs there is. You can also pour in a couple of tablespoons of ginger powder to warm you up even more.

Another way of making the bath work for you for pain relief is to add essential oils to the water. Essential oils are powerful oils extracted from plants and flowers and are used for many different conditions. You could add lavender and clary sage oils to relieve pain and encourage relaxation. To reduce inflammation, the essential oils of cinnamon and eucalyptus can be used.

The exquisite rose essential oil is reputed to help to regulate the menstrual cycle, and well as having a lovely calming effect. And the oils of chamomile and ylang-ylang relax your muscles and decrease irritability. Add no more than a total of 12 drops to a bath. Using too much essential oil can cause severe skin irritation and other symptoms.

So, next time you’re suffering from period pains and have a few moments to yourself, try a warming bath. Make yourself a cup of tea – chamomile will calm you – and light a couple of candles for an extra relaxing experience. Close the bathroom windows and door so that you breathe in the aromas and beneficial compounds from the essential oils. Spend at least 20 minutes relaxing in the bath.

3. Massage with essential oils

Another way of harnessing the power of essential oils over pain is to massage them directly into the skin of the affected areas. Choose your oils (see below), and try one of these massage techniques to help relieve the pain. Lie on your back and place the palms of your hands in the center of your belly. Start to ‘draw’ large circles with your hands, as you press your abdomen lightly. Repeat this 30 times.

Another massage technique to use is to place the middle and index fingers of both hands over your navel. Press on your abdomen. Then ‘draw’ a heart, moving upwards, sideways and downwards, finishing the shape below your belly button. Then begin to move your fingers up again. Repeat 20 to 30 times.

If you feel pain in your lower back, try placing your hands on your back, right beneath your ribcage. Start moving your hands downwards while applying pressure, until you reach the tailbone. Repeat this move about 30 times. Try rubbing the lower part of your abdomen with both hands about 30 times. That can really bring a lot of relief, as can kneading your belly with your knuckles for 30 to 60 seconds at a time.

There are many essential oils you can use to help with your period cramps. For example, the essential oils of nutmeg, ginger, valerian, lavender, peppermint, chamomile and clary sage all have a strong anti-spasmodic action. They are therefore very helpful for the muscular cramps that accompany menstruation. Other oils that can provide relief include lavender, rose, melissa, geranium, neroli, rosemary, and cardamom. Always remember to dissolve essential oils in a carrier oil such as evening primrose oil. Only use 4 or 5 drops of oils to 5 teaspoons of base oil.

4. Drink herbal teas

Herbs have been used for centuries to heal many varied conditions. One of the ways in which herbs are used is by making them into tea. Drinking tea might seem a strange way to relieve pain, but science has shown that drinking chamomile tea can help to relieve period cramps. Chamomile contains a substance called glycine. This substance is effective in relieving muscle spasms, including the spasms of the uterus that cause period pain.

Another plant that can help with period pains is turmeric. You might be familiar with it from the bright yellow hue that it gives to curries. But did you know that turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory? Here is a recipe for turmeric tea. It can calm you down, remove muscle spasms and reduce bloating. Simply take 0.8 oz (24g) grated turmeric root and .45 oz (13g) of ginger root. Mix with a ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon powder, a few black peppercorns, 2.8 oz (80g) of honey and the juice of half a lemon. Mix the ingredients together in a jar, and make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Store this mixture in the refrigerator.

To make a cup of turmeric tea, place one teaspoon of the mixture in a mug and mix it with 6 to 8 oz (170 – 230ml) of boiling water. Add a sprinkle of more black pepper, and drink while still hot. Regular consumption of this tea will help relieve abdominal cramps and any gastrointestinal symptoms that you may have.

Peppermint tea, which is readily available, is great for calming and numbing pain. Steep one bag or 1 teaspoon of loose leaves in a cup of hot water for about 10 minutes. Ginger tea is also a powerful weapon against pain, cramping, and inflammation.

5. Have sex

Yes, you heard right. Sex is an excellent antidote for period pains. Several scientific studies have shown the benefits of having sexual intercourse on the body. For example, it boosts the immune system and can relieve a headache. It can even improve your memory. But having sex also has benefits related to your menstrual cycle. For example, an orgasm causes the body to release a number of hormones.

These include oxytocin, the bonding hormone, serotonin, the ‘happy’ hormone, as well as dopamine and other endorphins. Endorphins can help to relieve period pain in a way that is far stronger than over-the-counter medication. These hormones also change our perceptions of pain, acting as mental painkillers.

Another way that sex can help relates to the fact that when we are having sex, blood floods the genital region, helping to relax the muscles. Another way in which having sex can help with your menstrual cycle is through the muscular contractions experienced during orgasm. These contractions might make your body get rid of menstrual blood faster than usual, making your period shorter.

Stimulation of the vagina during sex or masturbation has been shown to increase a woman’s pain threshold by a massive 100%. The explanation is very simple. When a woman has an orgasm via vaginal stimulation, the nerves simply stop communicating period pain. The exact reason for this isn’t yet known, but one theory relates it to the release of noradrenaline during sex. It turns out that this hormone prevents the communication of pain from the pelvic area to the brain for up to an hour after sex. So, it seems that engaging in some hanky panky might be just the way to deal with those pesky period pains and have some fun at the same time!

6. Get a good night’s sleep

As more and more evidence of the importance of good sleep comes to light, it turns out that it’s also important for relieving period-related symptoms. But getting to sleep when you’re on your period can sometimes be difficult. Why is it that the bed suddenly feels uncomfortable? Or that your pillow feels full of lumps? We’re usually more sensitive during that time of the month, and sometimes your body feels stiff all over and aches. You battle to find a comfortable position to sleep in, and period pain can keep you from dreamland.

But don’t just accept any position in which you end up. It turns out that there is an optimal position in which to sleep when you’re menstruating. Experts agree that the best way to sleep at that time of the month is in the fetal position. This is when you lie on your side, with your legs tucked up against your stomach.

The reason for this being the sleeping position of choice at that time is that it causes the abdominal muscles to relax, also reducing pain. And it’s not only sleeping position that counts. Sleep experts tell us that most adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night, with teenagers needing more.

It’s also important to maintain a regular routine in which you go to bed and get up at roughly the same time every day. This establishes a healthy pattern for the body. If you have trouble drifting off, try having a warm bath with calming essential oils such as lavender before bed. Make sure your bedroom is not too warm or too cold. Wear comfortable clothes made from natural fibers to prevent sweating and feeling uncomfortable.

7. Stay hydrated

It might sound strange, but it turns out that if you drink more water, you will prevent fluid retention in your body. So, drinking more water stops fluids from building up and causing discomfort. We all know that drinking water is important for health. The human body is, in fact, made up mostly of water. Failing to replenish the fluids that we lose throughout the day can lead to dehydration. This can have a potentially serious negative effect on the body.

From a period-related point of view, staying hydrated can ease or even prevent bloating and swelling. So how much water should you be drinking? Experts generally agree that about eight glasses of water a day is ideal If you have period pain or PMS symptoms, try drinking warm water instead of cold. Drinking water that is quite hot can help to alleviate period pains. But there are other ways of getting your recommended daily water.

Many fruits and vegetables are packed full of it. Fruits such as watermelons, peaches, and berries are high in water and are delicious to boot. Be careful about how much fruit you eat, though. While delicious, don’t forget that many fruits are high in sugar.

Other foods that are a great choice for keeping you hydrated are lettuce, cucumber, and leafy greens. They’re up to 90% water, so will up your daily water intake. Of course, lots of other drinks contain water. Herbal teas are a good choice for keeping you hydrated. Try them hot in the winter months, or chilled in summer for a perfectly-hydrated body. Your skin and other organs will also benefit from a good supply of water. Avoid soda and juices, which are both high in sugar.

8. Eat herbs and spices

Herbs and spices are so much part of our everyday lives in that we are consuming more and more of them in our food. As we experience the food of cultures that might be different from our own, we learn how herbs and spices can make magic in our mouths when we eat. But we tend to forget that many people around the world rely on herbs and spices rather than pharmaceuticals to treat their ailments.

Around the Mediterranean, women have been using fennel seeds to relieve period cramps. Although we call them seeds, they’re actually tiny little fruits. In a study, 52% of women who took fennel seeds for painful period cramps reported that their pain had lessened. Another study showed that fennel seeds work as well as a prescription-only pharmaceutical product. The benefit of choosing fennel seeds over painkillers is that the seeds don’t cause any of the side effects of these pharmaceuticals. Such side effects can include rashes, diarrhea, autoimmune anemia, and kidney toxicity.

One study showed that these power-packed little fruits could actually fight period cramps, and work within just an hour. The only problem is that fennel can cause more severe bleeding. With this in mind, it would be best to take fennel seeds in the morning and not at night. Ginger, however, can actually reduce bleeding.

Apart from working to relieve any gastrointestinal problems you might have, ginger can also improve your mood and reduce the severity of any physical symptoms you have. Another spicy pain reliever is cinnamon. This delicious spice, which is actually the bark of a particular tree, can make you lose less blood and help to get rid of nausea.

9. Remember your vitamins and minerals

We all know that our bodies require a whole host of vitamins and minerals to work at their best. It turns out that various minerals and vitamins can also help with menstrual cramps. We know that calcium is vital for strong bones and teeth, but did you know that calcium also maintains muscle tone?

Some experts advise consuming 1,000 mg of calcium per day to relieve menstrual cramps. This could come in tablet form, but you can also up your intake of calcium in your diet. Adding broccoli and almonds to your daily menu will help you get the calcium that you need. To help the body absorb calcium, we need vitamin D. A large number of people across the world are said to be Vitamin D-deficient. This vital vitamin can be found in various foods such as red meat, egg yolk, liver, and yogurt, but also in many plant-based foods.

These include mushrooms. In fact, scientists have shown that mushrooms can provide as much vitamin D as a supplement. Button mushrooms are high in vitamin, as are the shiitake, morel, maitake, and portobello varieties. And the good news is that you can boost their vitamin D content even further by placing them in the sun for a while. Apparently, even 20 seconds of sun exposure can make a big difference.

Also recommended for reducing inflammation are omega-3 fatty acids. These are found in fatty fish such as mackerel and sardines, but can also be consumed as a supplement. Fish oil and krill oil supplements can be taken, but also flaxseed oil capsules. Magnesium can reduce our perceptions of pain, but people with heart disease should consult their doctors before taking a magnesium supplement.

10. Exercise

You’ve heard it before, and we’re telling you again. Exercise is essential for everybody’s general health, and it turns out that exercise helps with period pain too. While some women believe that working out during their period will be harmful, the opposite is true. In fact, exercise raises the level of endorphins in the body. These hormones dull pain and improve your mood. They also speed up the burning of prostaglandins, which makes you more susceptible to pain.

But what exercise should we be doing, how often and for how long? It seems that just about every week another study comes out telling us what we should be doing to keep our body in top shape. The trouble is, some of the information seems contradictory. The one thing that experts agree on is the importance of exercise in everybody’s lives. Not everyone likes to work out, but exercise is an essential part of keeping healthy. If you don’t want to hit the gym, there are plenty of other alternatives.

Try walking for 30 minutes, and try to increase this to an hour, three times a week. Don’t walk the same route every day. Try different places such as parks or roads. Remember to add in hills to give your heart a good workout. Cycling and skating are also very good exercise.

Yoga is brilliant for keeping your body in tip-top shape. Take a yoga class to get a feel for it. The beauty of it is that you can do yoga in the privacy of your own home and still reap the benefits of this ancient practice. Not only will exercise help with period cramps, but you will become fitter and stronger with regular workouts. You will also develop a healthier cardiovascular system to boot.

11. Cut out some foods for a while

As we’ve said, there are plenty of ways to make yourself feel better at that time of the month. But there are also some foods and additives that are best avoided during this time. One example is caffeine. If you need a cup of coffee to get out of bed in the morning, this might seem like the end of the world. But the truth is that the caffeine in coffee can make your PMS worse by increasing mood swings, bloating, aching and cramps. Caffeine also raises your anxiety levels so that you feel more stressed. Amazingly, coffee can also cause your menstrual cycle to become irregular.

Other foods to avoid are those that are high in fat and/or salt. This, sadly, includes the good old cheeseburger, fries, chips, pretzels and any other particularly salty or fatty foods. These increase bloating and cause water retention, effectively worsening your period-related symptoms. Although drinking alcohol can temporarily reduce period cramps, it increases estrogen levels, which in turn makes period symptoms worse. Try a virgin mojito instead, or coconut water, both of which are great for keeping you hydrated.

You might be surprised to learn that dairy products should be avoided during menstruation. This is because dairy products such as butter, cheese, cream, and milk are all high in arachidonic acid. This acid can trigger menstrual cramps. Instead, try some of the many plant-based, dairy-free products on the market these days.

Also to be avoided are products that contain refined flour. These include things like cereals, tortillas, bread, and pizza, which can all lead to constipation and bloating. Instead, choose whole grains with a low GI index to keep you fuller for longer. Items like brown rice and whole-grain bread are excellent.

12. Give yourself an acupressure massage

Acupressure has been used for centuries to relieve pain and treat a variety of conditions. By applying pressure to certain points in the body, you could normalize your periods, and relieve cramps and PMS at the same time. Some points to press are as follows: the Sea of Energy is the point located the width of 2 fingers below your belly button. Two fingers’ width below that is situated the Gate Origin. Press both of these points for relief.

Mansion Cottage and Rushing Door are points that are found next to each other in the middle of the creases where your legs attach to your torso. The Sacral points are found on the lower back, just over the coccyx. Apply 2 minutes of firm, steady pressure to these points by lying on your back with your hands placed under the base of the spine. Place your hands on top of each other when applying pressure. This will help to relax the uterus and relieve period cramps.

Halfway between the base of your buttocks and your hipbone are the Womb and Vitals points, found just outside the Sacral points. Applying steady pressure to these points for about 2 minutes will help to relieve menstrual cramps, PMS, and pelvic tension.

You can find Three Ying Crossing on your leg, four fingers above your ankle. The final point to press is called Grandfather Grandson, which can be found on the upper arch of the foot, one finger-width from the ball. Not all points need to be pressed. Choose a couple to find relief. Should you prefer, you could go for professional acupressure to try to relieve your period cramps.

13. Consume blackstrap molasses

Another one of the remedies for menstrual cramps that has stood the test of time is blackstrap molasses. This amazing, sweet substance is a byproduct of the sugarcane refining process. To create blackstrap molasses, manufacturers first mash sugar cane to obtain juice. This juice is then boiled to form cane syrup. After a second boiling, the result is molasses. When it is boiled a third time, the resulting dark and viscous liquid is what is known as blackstrap molasses. Interestingly, it has the lowest sugar content of any of the sugar cane products.

Unlike refined sugar, which is of no nutritional value whatsoever, blackstrap molasses is full of nutrients. It contains crucial vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium, potassium and vitamin B6, and has been hailed as a so-called ‘superfood.’ Although it’s not a miracle cure for anything, blackstrap molasses can help with a number of conditions, including period pain. It helps to reduce the blood clots associated with menstruation and also soothes the muscles of the uterine wall. This reduces cramps during menstruation.

There are a number of delicious ways of taking blackstrap molasses. For example, you can add 1 or 2 teaspoons of it to a cup of warm milk to soothe and nourish you during that time of the month. Drink as soon as you start getting cramps, and keep drinking it a few times a day until your symptoms subside. Not only will it help with cramping, but it will provide many other benefits to your body. For example, by providing both calcium and potassium, blackstrap molasses can contribute to healthy bones and help to prevent osteoporosis.

It also makes a diabetic-friendly sweetener. Blackstrap molasses is also a great source of iron. In fact, approximately five tablespoons of it contain up to 95% of your recommended daily allowance of iron.

14. Use birth control

If none of these methods works to relieve your period-related symptoms, you might want to talk to your doctor about going on birth control. Scientific studies have shown that both low-dose and medium-dose estrogen contraceptive pills can provide pain relief for period cramps. The good news is that all the hormonal birth control methods available are even better than over-the-counter medications at reducing period pain.

These methods, including the pill, the patch, the shot, the implant and the hormonal IUD also all make your period lighter. This is because these hormonal methods all cause the lining of the uterus to become thinner. This means that during menstruation, there is less tissue to shed, resulting in a lighter period. One thing to note is that the implant and the shot increase the number of days of spotting or bleeding in some women. Nevertheless, periods become lighter and less painful in general.

Another way of experiencing fewer period-related symptoms is to have fewer periods. This can be achieved by having a hormonal UID Mirena fitted. While this also makes your period lighter and shorter, it can also stop your periods after a year of use. The longer you use it, the better your chances that your period will stop or become very light. You can use this device for up to 6 years.

Some pills are also designed to make you have a period only every three months. The normal monophasic pill, which includes placebo pills for taking while you have a period, can also be used to cut down on the number of periods you have. Simply skip the placebo pills, and go directly to the next pack. Note that it is perfectly safe to skip periods in this way, but it is a good idea to speak to your healthcare provider before using this method.

15. Take a safe painkiller

Although many of us would like to avoid taking medication, sometimes it’s necessary. If none of the above methods work for you, you might like to consider taking a safe painkiller to cut the inflammation and relieve pain. You can try a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) like Advil, Motrin IB or others (ibuprofen) or naproxen sodium (Aleve). The way these drugs work is to reduce the number of prostaglandins that are produced. Prostaglandins are the cause of menstrual cramps and inflammation. Prescription NSAIDs are also available, including mefenamic acid (Ponstel).

Before taking any drugs, talk to your doctor to see if NSAIDs are suitable for you. If you have a history of kidney problems or of bleeding, they might not be a good choice for you. There are other pain relievers on the market which might be better suited to you.

Always read the label on the package, as well as the dosing instruction leaflet to make sure that you don’t take too many painkillers. Overdosing on painkillers can be extremely dangerous and harmful to various systems of the body. For example, too much ibuprofen can damage your gastrointestinal system. It is advisable to use the minimum dose to get relief from your pain. The maximum dosage of ibuprofen for adults is four doses of 800 mg per day. Do not exceed this amount.

Begin taking the medication the day before you expect your period to start. If your period catches you unawares, start taking the medication as soon as you begin to experience symptoms. Keep taking it as directed for 2 or 3 days, or until your symptoms have disappeared. If you can’t take NSAIDs for whatever reason, there are other pain relievers available such as acetaminophen (Tylenol and others). Ask your doctor for advice.