Once a month if you’re like most women, you probably experience some physical discomfort during your period. Period symptoms can come in a variety of forms and everyone’s bodies are unique. The most common period pain can come in the form of pesky abdominal cramps. Along with menstrual cramps, it’s common to experience body aches and pains as well as other symptoms like fatigue.
What causes period pain?
During your menstrual period, it’s very common to get cramps as your uterus contracts to help expel its lining. Before this happens, a hormone called prostaglandin triggers muscle contractions in your uterus. When women have higher levels of this hormone, it’s common that they’ll experience more severe menstrual cramps.
Some of the risk factors that have been linked to experiencing menstrual cramps are:
- You’re younger than 30
- You started puberty early
- You experience heavy bleeding
- You have irregular periods
- Family history
- You smoke frequently
Menstrual cramps can range from being annoying and irritating to completely debilitating. Here are some easy and quick ways to keep period pain at bay so you don’t have to bring your life to a grinding halt.
Even though it might seem like the last thing you want to do when you have period cramps, getting up and moving can make a huge difference in the severity and painfulness of your cramps. Not only does exercise produce endorphins, which make you feel good and can also help with cramps. Running, cycling, and other activities get blood circulating throughout your body and can help reduce the painfulness of cramps. In addition to relieving pain, who doesn’t want a little pick me up for the irritability and moodiness that come along with periods? If you can’t muster a real workout, even just taking your dog for a walk and getting some sunshine while moving your body a bit can be a big help.
Experts also point out that a regular exercise routine, not just during your time of the month, can make symptoms a lot more bearable that come along with PMS and periods. If you experience intense periods and PMS symptoms, getting on a more frequent or more regular exercise plan is a really good goal!
Using thermotherapy (hot therapy) is a great tool to have in your back pocket when you know cramps are on their way. Heat can be super helpful when it comes to pain of any kind from cramps to back and neck pain that can sneak up on you each month. It has a relaxing and soothing ability to decrease muscle tension and help dull the pain. Using a heating pad on your stomach and lower back for 20-30 minutes at a time can help reduce severity of cramps. This is an easy thing to do while you’re working at your desk or sitting on your couch after dinner. If you’re able to, make some time to draw yourself a warm bath. Sitting in a warm tub with epsom salts or a bath balm can help relieve pain and the muscular tension associated.
Yoga can be a great activity to do during your period for it’s emotional benefits like decreasing stress levels and irritability and improving your sleep. On top of all that, it can have really positive effects in decreasing physical discomfort and pain that comes with your period. It’s a form of exercise, just like running or cycling it can produce endorphins. It’s also very calming and meditative so if you’re not up for a brutal workout this is a great option! Yoga and restorative yoga are great to do in the evening so you have a nice relaxing hour leading you up to a great night’s sleep. Stretching can also relieve some of the bodily aches and pains. Pair a restorative yoga class with a warm bath or hot tub after and you are bound to feel a lot less miserable from your period cramps.
Certain groupings of vitamins and supplements are a natural way to decrease the effects of period pain, as well as emotional symptoms that come with PMS. Here are some of the best vitamins and supplements you can add to relieve you.
Magnesium - Magnesium plays a vital role in muscle contraction, so it’s been shown to fight period cramps and bloating.
Calcium - When paired with Magnesium, calcium has been shown to decrease the negative effects of period pain as well as PMS symptoms. It’s also a great supplement to have in your diet as a woman for improving bone density.
Omega-3s - Besides having many other health benefits, women who consume Omega-3s tend to have milder menstrual pain.
For your mental sanity and for your cramps, a massage can be a lifesaver during your period. You can try a few different options based on your personal preferences and see what has the best effects for you.
Try massaging your abdomen - lightly massaging your stomach and ovaries can help reduce the tightness and decrease pain and discomfort. Use a soothing oil or pain relieving cream for enhanced results. You can do this after using the heating pad or taking a warm bath so you’re already a little bit loosened up and less tense.
Use a mobility or massage tool - practicing mobility with a foam roller paired with stretching can have amazing effects on reducing back pain and cramps. Rolling out your lower back and neck can help relieve pain, while stretching can be helpful to relax the muscles taking down the severity of cramps and discomfort.
Get a full body massage - while this isn’t always an easy thing to do due to time and money, treat yourself to a professional massage once in a while. Not only is it a lifesaver for cramps and body aches but it’s also important to practice self-care and indulge in yourself here and there, especially when your period is worse than usual.
Periods can be a pain and cramps can disrupt your life. Make sure you’re trying some of these five things to relieve your period pain from cramps, aches and pain and overall body fatigue. Every body is different so try new things and mix it up to find out what works for you so you can be ahead of the game and not stuck on the couch every time your period comes to visit.