- What are the Types of Menstrual Cramps?
- What is The Role of Hormones in Menstrual Cramps?
- How to Manage Menstrual Cramps?
- How can cycle syncing help reduce menstrual cramps?
- Other Non-Pharmaceutical Solutions for Menstrual Cramps
- 1. Herbal remedies
- 2. Heat therapy
- 3. Stretching and exercise
- 4. Massage therapy
- 5. Which Foods Can Help Manage Menstrual Cramps?
- 6. Lifestyle Changes
- 7. Stress Management
- Stress Management Techniques
- Precautions to Take
- Key Takeaways
Are you sick and tired of dealing with those uncomfortable menstrual cramps? Do you wish to be relieved from the pain and discomfort they bring? You’re not alone and we’re here to help.
While period painkiller pills may provide temporary relief, they can also have serious side effects if used in the long run. Most painkillers contain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These chemicals can cause side effects like stomach pain, nausea, and even more serious health issues like liver damage, heart problems, and stroke if taken for a prolonged period.
Why bother yourself with these pesky side effects that just mask your pain but don’t make it go away for good?
Pain relief doesn't always have to come from over-the-counter medication. We will help you explore alternative, sustainable, and long-lasting ways, aka non-pharmaceutical solutions, to manage menstrual cramps and take charge of your menstrual cycle once and for all.
Understanding Menstrual Cramps
What are Menstrual Cramps?
Menstrual cramps are abdominal or back pain that result from the uterus' contraction during the shedding of the uterine lining. In simple terms, this is the physical experience of your Period Pain. These can range from mild to severe, with symptoms including headache, nausea, mood swings, depression and fatigue.
It is crucial to differentiate menstrual cramps from other types of abdominal pain, such as stomach aches, to receive the appropriate treatment. Menstrual cramps occur due to the uterus contracting as it sheds its lining. These contractions can cause pain in the lower abdomen. They can sometimes be accompanied by other symptoms like nausea or headaches.
On the other hand, stomach aches can be caused by various factors, including food poisoning or indigestion. They can be felt throughout the stomach area. Understanding the differences between menstrual cramps and other abdominal pains can help you take the necessary steps to alleviate discomfort and pain.
What are the Types of Menstrual Cramps?
There are two types of menstrual cramps: Primary Dysmenorrhea and Secondary Dysmenorrhea.
Primary Dysmenorrhea is the primary source of pain during menstruation. Hormonal imbalances cause it during the later part of the luteal phase, in which the estrogen and progesterone levels decrease, increasing prostaglandins' production. This hormonal fluctuation results in uterine contraction and restricts the blood & oxygen flow to your lower abdomen causing menstrual cramps. While this contraction is essential to ensure the start of your menstrual cycle, excessive contraction leads to pain.
Secondary Dysmenorrhea is caused by underlying medical conditions, such as endometriosis, fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease. People suffering from these conditions often experience extreme menstrual cramps compared to Primary Dysmenorrhea.
While these conditions are curable through modern medicine, they result from hormonal imbalances at the root level. Thus, it is very important to understand your menstrual cycle and develop a healthy lifestyle around it.
What is The Role of Hormones in Menstrual Cramps?
Our menstrual cycle consists of four phases where the hormones constantly fluctuate, leading to hormonal imbalance. Especially during the menstrual phase, aka your Periods, this imbalance has a distinctive role in triggering menstrual cramps or Primary Dysmenorrhea . Let's understand how in the following steps:
During the later part of your luteal phase, the levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease in the absence of pregnancy.
This triggers the release of prostaglandins, hormone-like lipids that cause the Uterus to contract, resulting in Menstruation or Periods.
This contraction results in a compression of the blood vessels lining your Uterus, temporarily cutting off blood & oxygen supply and leading to menstrual cramps.
Additionally, this contraction also makes the uterus tender and sensitive. This contraction can lead to further discomfort in case it is too severe for your strength. The higher level of prostaglandin, the more painful your cramps can be.
By the second day of your period, the prostaglandin levels decrease, thus subsiding the period cramps after the first 2 days.
How to Manage Menstrual Cramps?
Taking painkillers to relieve yourself of menstrual cramps is the only immediate relief option. However, they only provide temporary relief by masking the pain and does not address the root cause of menstrual cramps.
On the other hand, non-pharmaceutical solutions, such as heat therapy, exercise, and dietary changes, have been found to provide long-term benefits and lessen the intensity and frequency of menstrual cramps.
Some women prefer to avoid medication and opt for more natural and holistic approaches due to the potential side effects of painkillers and the desire to avoid introducing additional chemicals into their bodies.
Let's start with the most important one, aka, Cycle Syncing!
How can cycle syncing help reduce menstrual cramps?
Cycle syncing is a way of living in harmony with your body's natural hormonal fluctuations during your menstrual cycle. It involves recognizing the physical and emotional changes that occur during the four phases of your cycle and adjusting your lifestyle and habits accordingly. This practice can improve your health and overall well-being.
Let’s understand how cycle syncing works and how it can help reduce menstrual cramps, so you don't have to pause your daily life.
What are the benefits of cycle sync on menstruation?
Cycle syncing has many benefits for menstrual health, including:
Reducing menstrual cramps and discomfort
Improving overall menstrual cycle regularity
Balancing hormones and reducing PMS symptoms
Improving mood and energy levels
Boosting fertility and overall reproductive health
How can cycle sync reduce menstrual cramps?
Cycle syncing can help reduce menstrual cramps by addressing the physical and emotional changes that occur during different phases of the menstrual cycle.
During the menstrual phase, when cramps are typically the worst, activities that promote relaxation and stress relief, such as yoga, meditation, or a warm bath, can help to ease discomfort.
In the follicular phase, when estrogen levels rise, physical activity and exercise can help increase blood flow and reduce inflammation.
During the ovulatory phase, it's important to continue habits that support overall well-being, such as eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress. Additionally, physical activity and exercise can help to maintain good circulation and overall physical health, which can help to reduce the severity of menstrual cramps during future menstrual phases.
In the luteal phase, when progesterone levels are high, self-care and self-nurturance activities, such as getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and reducing stress, can help to regulate hormone levels and reduce the severity of menstrual cramps.
By syncing daily habits and routines with the menstrual cycle, you can manage menstrual cramps by addressing the root cause of your symptoms.
However, every woman's body is unique, so it's best to listen to your body and work with your healthcare provider to find what works best for you.
7 Non-Pharmaceutical Solutions for Menstrual Cramps
This section will look at 7 non-pharmaceutical solutions to help you manage your menstrual cramps and improve your overall health that you can add to your cycle syncing routine From heat therapy to exercise and dietary changes, we've got you covered.
1. Herbal remedies
Herbal remedies are a popular and natural way to manage menstrual cramps. Common herbs used for this purpose include ginger, turmeric, and chamomile. Ginger helps reduce inflammation and pain, while turmeric has antispasmodic properties that relax muscles. Chamomile soothes the mind and body, making it a popular choice for menstrual cramps.
One easy way to use ginger is to make ginger tea. You can boil 1.4 tsp dry ginger in 1 cup of water for 5 mins, strain & sip hot. Consuming 1 cup per day post-meal is recommended to reduce period cramps.
Be aware that excessive ginger can cause gas and bloat. Additionally, ginger may interact with some medications, so it's important to check with your doctor before adding it to your routine in case you are on any medications.
Drinking turmeric tea is easy: boil water and add a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Alternatively, you can take a turmeric supplement in capsule form. However, it's important to consult your doctor first, as consuming too much turmeric can lead to gas trouble and an increased risk of kidney stones in extreme cases.
Chamomile tea is a great way to manage menstrual cramps. Place 1 chamomile tea bag or 1-2 teaspoons of dried chamomile flowers in a teapot and pour 1 cup of hot water. Let steep for 5-10 minutes. Remove the tea bag or strain the tea, and add honey or lemon for taste (optional). Sip hot. We recommend adding a chamomile tea to your night routine as it will also help relieve you of stress and reduce anxiety.
Chamomile supplements are also available in capsule form. However, it's important to note that chamomile can cause allergic reactions in some people, especially those allergic to plants in the daisy family. We recommend adding a chamomile tea to your night routine as it will also help relieve you of stress and reduce anxiety.
Please note: While these herbs may help reduce menstrual cramps for some women, they may not be effective for everyone. Our bodies are bio individual and our requirements, pain thresholds, and lifestyle differ. Find what works for you.
2. Heat therapy
Heat therapy is a popular non-pharmaceutical remedy for menstrual cramps. Applying heat to the lower abdomen can help relax the muscles and reduce pain. Try using a heating pad or hot water bottle for 15-20 minutes several times a day during your period.
3. Stretching and exercise
Stretching and exercise can help ease menstrual cramps by increasing blood flow and relaxing the muscles. Light activities such as yoga, swimming, and walking can provide relief. Be mindful of your body and not push yourself too hard, as too much exercise can worsen cramps.
This is also a time for you to rest or reduce the physical stress you put your body under so that it can regain energy for the rest of your cycle. Do what is easy for you. It’s ideal to keep moving but don’t push yourself.
4. Massage therapy
Massage therapy can be a great way to relieve menstrual cramps. A gentle abdominal massage can help relax the muscles in the area, reducing pain. It can also reduce stress and anxiety and improve blood circulation. Massage therapy is safe and effective for managing menstrual cramps. It can be an invaluable tool for easing discomfort.
5. Which Foods Can Help Manage Menstrual Cramps?
Although the intensity of menstrual cramps can vary, they can be debilitating for some women and may affect their daily activities. This section will discuss practical ways to manage menstrual cramps through diet and supplements during each menstrual cycle phase.
During menstrual phase, the body sheds the uterus lining, which can cause painful cramps. To manage the cramps during this phase, consider adding the following to your diet::
B-complex supplement: A daily B-complex supplement containing vitamins B1 and B6 can help reduce menstrual cramps.
Dry Ginger Tea: Boil 1.4 teaspoons of dry ginger in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Strain and sip the hot tea to help ease menstrual cramps and reduce bloating.
Bananas: Eating a small banana daily with raisins or between meals is recommended to reduce period cramps. Bananas are rich in magnesium and potassium, which can help alleviate menstrual cramps.
During the follicular phase, the body prepares for ovulation. To manage menstrual cramps during this time, consider adding the following to your diet:
Omega-3 Rich Foods: Adding omega-3 rich foods such as chia seeds, basil, or sabja seeds (1-2 tsp per day), seafood with less spice and salt (if non-vegetarian) twice a week, and fish oil capsules (1000 mg/day) can help reduce menstrual cramps and inflammation.
Decaf/Hibiscus Tea: Substituting caffeinated drinks with decaf or hibiscus tea can help alleviate PMS symptoms. Hibiscus tea has analgesic properties, which can help reduce pain, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Calcium-rich food: Low calcium levels can cause increased uterine muscle contraction and pain due to decreased blood flow. To reduce menstrual cramps, increase the consumption of calcium-rich foods such as sesame seeds, broccoli, walnuts/peanuts, and unsalted yogurt.
Women may experience mild cramps and discomfort during the follicular and ovulation phases. Consider adding the following to your diet:
Vitamin D Rich Foods: Incorporating vitamin D-rich foods, such as mushrooms, egg yolks, and yogurt/milk, can help regulate the menstrual cycle, relieve muscle pains, and improve moods.
Lentils: Consuming lentils, such as rajma, chole, peas, etc., can help prevent muscle cramping and aid digestion.
Saffron Water/Milk: Consuming 3-4 strands of saffron in water or milk at bedtime can promote fertility and have an antidepressant effect.
During the luteal phase, the body prepares for menstruation. To manage menstrual cramps during this phase, you can add the following foods to your diet:
Dark chocolate: Eating one square of low-added sugar dark chocolate daily can aid in muscle relaxation, as it is rich in magnesium. It can also help with period cravings.
Low-salt dinners: Eating dinners that contain minimal or no salt can reduce water retention and bloating associated with PMS and period pain.
Vitamin E: Taking 200 IU of Vitamin E daily, starting two days before your period and continuing until day three of your menstrual phase, can help manage period pain.
6. Lifestyle Changes
Getting enough sleep, managing stress, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking are all lifestyle changes that can help manage menstrual cramps. It is important to get enough rest and take care of yourself during this time.
To manage stress, activities like yoga or mindfulness can be beneficial, as well as taking time to relax. Eating a well-balanced diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-rich foods can also help reduce menstrual cramps.
Additionally, avoiding smoking is essential for general health and can help reduce menstrual cramps. These changes promote overall health and wellness, making the menstrual cycle more comfortable and manageable.
7. Stress Management
The relationship between stress and menstrual cramps is a well-documented one. When you are exposed to stress, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that has the potential to disrupt the balance of other hormones and increase inflammation in the body. This can lead to more intense and prolonged menstrual pain and discomfort.
It is important to note that stress aggravates menstrual cramps and can cause other physical and mental health issues, such as headaches, fatigue, and even depression.
Therefore, it is essential to reduce stress levels and maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep menstrual cramps to a minimum.
Stress Management Techniques
Several techniques can help manage stress and minimize its effects on menstrual cramps. These include:
Mindfulness and relaxation practices, such as meditation and deep breathing
Physical activity, such as yoga or exercise
Talking to a counsellor or therapist
Practicing good sleep habits, such as getting enough sleep and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule
Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as taking breaks and engaging in activities you enjoy.
Precautions to Take
Talking to a doctor before trying non-pharmaceutical solutions for menstrual cramps is important, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions. Be aware that some herbal remedies may interact with medications, so it is important to consider potential drug interactions.
Period painkillers may provide temporary relief but can also have serious side effects if taken for an extended period.
Non-pharmaceutical solutions, such as cycle syncing, heat therapy, exercise, and dietary changes, can reduce the intensity and frequency of menstrual cramps.
Cycle syncing is a way of living in harmony with your menstrual cycle and involves recognizing the physical and emotional changes that occur during the four phases of your cycle. It can help alleviate menstrual cramps by addressing the root cause of the symptoms, improve overall menstrual cycle regularity, and promote overall reproductive health.
Every woman's body is unique, so it's best to listen to your body and work with your healthcare provider to find the best solution for you.
Disclaimer: We do not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this booklet are for informational purposes only. No material in this booklet is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.