Having menstrual cramps is one of the most common, annoying parts of your period. You’ll feel these cramps in your lower belly or back. They can range from mild to severe.
They usually happen for the first time a year or two after a girl first gets her period. With age, they usually become less painful and may stop entirely after you have your first baby.
Your doctor may call your cramps “dysmenorrhea.” More than half of women who menstruate report some pain from period cramps for a day or two each month, according to research. You probably had no idea on how to soothe or prevent this pain, but thank goodness you have landed here. Here are 10 natural remedies for you.
Massaging with essential oils
Using certain aromatic essential oils (Lavender, clary sage, and marjoram) and massage for about 20 minutes can relieve menstrual cramp pain, according to a study published in May 2012 in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research.
Massage therapy for menstruation involves pressing specific points while the therapist’s hands move around your abdomen, side, and back. If you don’t have time or cannot afford a massage therapy, make your partner your therapist! You can also rub your lower tummy. That helps relax the muscles
You should always dilute your essential oil with a carrier oil (vegetable or nut oils like grapeseed or sweet almond oil). A safe concentration is one drop of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil.
Try behavioral intervention
It may be helpful to develop certain kinds of behavioral intervention coping strategies, especially if you have persistently bad cramps.
These strategies include relaxation training, which uses a repetitive activity, such as deep breathing, reciting a prayer, or repeating a word or sound, in combination with clearing your mind, ignoring distractions, and taking on a positive attitude. This is supposed to help you relax and let go of the pain.
You can also try imagery intervention, which uses positive thoughts and experiences to change your emotional state and distract you from and relieve the pain.
Since cramps affect the same muscles as child birth, some women find it helpful to use Lamaze exercises to relieve menstrual cramps. Try the rhythmic breathing used in Lamaze exercises to help relieve or lessen the pain.
You can also attempt biofeedback, which is a method where you learn to control physiologic parameters such as heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature along with relaxation techniques to help train your body to control symptoms.
Soaking in a hot bath or using a heating pad, hot water bottle or heat patch on your lower abdomen may ease menstrual cramps. A 2012 study focused on women 18 to 30 years old who had regular menstrual cycles found that a heat patch at 104°F (40°C) was very effective.
If you don’t have a hot water bottle or heating pad, take a warm bath or use a hot towel. Or you can make your own heating pad:
• Cut and sew together two pieces of fabric, leaving a hole at the top.
• Fill with uncooked rice and sew up the hole.
• Microwave for a few minutes to the desired temperature. Don’t overheat!
• Let cool, if necessary. Or wrap your homemade pad in a towel to reduce heat transfer. Reuse as necessary.
Or watch this video tutorial from KimMartyy below.
Try laying on the floor on your back with your legs up on a wall perpendicular to your body while you have the heating pad on. A little heat goes a long way to reduce the effects of your menstrual cramps.
Reducing fat and increasing vegetables in your diet may help ease monthly cramps. “A low-fat diet actually decreases overall levels of inflammation in the body. Generally, a diet geared toward decreasing menstrual pain should be high in minimally processed foods, fiber, and plants.
Give these foods a try:
• green leafy vegetables.
• papaya (rich in vitamins).
• brown rice (contains vitamin B-6, which may reduce bloating).
• walnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds (rich in manganese, which eases cramps).
• olive oil and broccoli (contain vitamin E).
• chicken, fish, and leafy green vegetables (contain iron, which is lost during menstruation).
• flaxseed (contains omega-3s with antioxidant properties, which reduce swelling and inflammation).
The following contain boron which helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus – according to research…and in effect reduces menstrual cramps.
• peanut butter
Herbs you can add to your diet
These herbal remedies contain anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic compounds that experts believe can reduce the muscle contractions and swelling associated with menstrual pain.
• Fennel seeds
Ghanaian rich foods you can try
• boiled plantain served with kontomire stew and avocado
• beans with ripped plantains (fried)
• banku or fufu with any local soup with salmon.
Don’t just start eating right when your period starts. If you know you’re due for that time of the month, get ahead of the game and get feel-good nutrients into your body beforehand.
This may sound odd to you, but drinking water keeps your body from retaining water and helps to avoid painful bloating during menstruation. Warm or hot water is usually better for cramps, as hot liquids increase blood flow to your skin and may relax cramped muscles.
You can also eat water-based foods to increase your hydration, including:
• berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
Try taking longer showers. While it may not help if you’re trying to conserve water, it may help to reduce the pain coming from your belly.
Avoid these foods
During menstruation, it’s a good idea to avoid foods that cause bloating and water retention. Some of the biggest culprits include:
• fatty foods
• carbonated beverages
• salty foods
Avoid eating heavy foods (fufu, banku or eba) late in the night. Best practice is to eat before 6 PM.
Reducing or cutting out these foods can help alleviate cramps and decrease tension. Instead, try soothing (caffeine-free) ginger or mint teas or hot water flavored with lemon. If you need a sugar fix, snack on fruits like strawberries or raspberries.
Studies have found that physical activity may ease the pain of menstrual cramps.
The idea of exercise immediately before or during your period may not appeal to you. But exercise releases endorphins. Research suggests exercise is effective at reducing menstrual pain to the extent it may also eliminate or reduce the need for pain-relief medication. Moderate activity such as walking can be beneficial during your period in place of more strenuous activity.
Yoga is a gentle exercise that also releases endorphins and helps prevent or reduce menstrual symptoms. In one recent study, researchers found three different yoga poses — cobra, cat, and fish — significantly reduced intensity and duration of pain during menstruation.
This YouTube video tutorial should help you ease your menstrual pain. Take action!
Use herbal tea to relieve menstrual cramps
Certain teas may help relieve menstrual cramps. Research on herbal teas for menstrual pain relief is scarce, say experts, but teas have been used traditionally and can help. Because some of the herbs may act as estrogens, ask your doctor first before using one, especially if you have a history of a hormone-related cancer or take blood-thinning drugs.
Ginger tea, mint tea and dandelion tea can do the magic for you. If you are not a fan of teas, taking a glass of warm lemon water early in the morning should be okay.
Red raspberry tea is especially good for you during your period and it’s not super expensive. Red raspberry tea helps ease pain in the uterus and soothes cramps. It also strengthens your muscles and has high levels of calcium. No matter the flavor, tea is relaxing anyway and it might ease your menstrual stress to sit down with a hot cup.
Avoid caffeine: Coffee might be lifeblood on a normal day, but caffeine can actually enhance your cramps. Not only that, caffeine ups tension and anxiety, which is already higher than normal while you are on your period.
Psychological and lifestyle stress may increase your risk of menstrual cramps and their severity.According to the Journal of Women’s Health, women who report high levels of stress in the two weeks before they get their period are two to three times more likely to experience depression, sadness, and crying spells as well as physical Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) symptoms such as body aches, bloating, low back pain, cramps, and headache, compared to women who did not feel stressed early on in their cycles.
Combating stress with yoga, exercise, biofeedback, or meditation may help prevent PMS symptoms or make them much more manageable
Distraction is one of the most powerful and readily available painkillers. If you have intense menstrual cramps, then do something that normally absorbs you completely, such as socializing with good friends, reading a book, playing a computer game, watching a movie or TV show, or spending time on Facebook or WhatsApp.
Go to the mall or go out with your man to watch a football match. Make sure you pick something that will keep your mind off of the pain and convince your body to focus on other things.
If you try all these natural remedies and you still feel a lot of period pain, it may be time to talk to someone. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Note: Using medicine constantly results in them being harmful to your stomach. They also cause diarrhea, fibroid with other related ailments, and your body will become resistant to the pills.
Did you know that some women experience relief from menstrual cramp with having regular sex or orgasm? But don’t try sex during menstruation. What other methods work for you and which ones don’t? Share with us in the comment section below.