Menstrual cramps can be a real pain for any woman. Here are some ways to help ease your pains right at home.
This might sound a little crazy and you might be thinking to yourself, I can barely move, let alone exercise. However, brisk walking, or any type of physical activity, can help to ease your belly pain. When you’re doing any type of aerobic exercise, your body is pumping more blood; this helps to release endorphins to counteract the prostaglandins and reduce your cramps. Exercising three to four times a week is good for the overall health of your body, but it is especially important if you’re prone to painful menstrual cramps
- Improved diet
Rearch has shown that 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,” says Aldo Palmieri MD, an ob-gyn at UCLA Health and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine in Los Angeles. A low-fat, vegetarian diet not only helps your health generally, says Dr. Palmieri, but it can have an indirect yet noticeable effect on menstrual cramps, too.
- Apply heat
Heat helps to relax the reacting muscles in your uterus, which is the cause for your pain. There are many over-the-counter heating patches and pads, such as ThermaCare, Bengay, or electric, reusable ones. Or, even taking a regular plastic bottle with hot water and applying it to your abdomen is an alternative when you don’t have access to a heating pad.
- Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D
Prevention is always better than the cure, which is why making sure your body has enough vitamin D is important in preventing menstrual cramps. A study found that high doses of vitamin D3 led to a significant decrease in menstrual cramps. As reported by heath.com, “40 Italian women were split into two groups: one receiving a single oral dose of 300,000 IUs of vitamin D3 and the other getting a placebo five days before the expected start of their menstrual periods.” Their pain scored dropped by 41 percent, while those in the placebo group saw no change in their pain scale
Not everyone wants to turn to medicine to soothe period cramps, but moderate use of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID),such as advil (ibuprofen) or aleve(naproxen), can help, Palmieri says. Menstrual cramps occur because of local release of substances called prostaglandins, he explains, and NSAIDs lower prostaglandin production and decrease overall inflammation and pain.
Check first with your doctor to be sure NSAIDs are a good choice for you, especially if you have a history of bleeding or kidney issues. And read the label for dosing instructions to be sure you don’t accidentally take too many.
Acupuncture can help relieve cramps, says Jeannie Bianchi, a licensed acupuncturist in San Francisco. “We’re relaxing the nervous system,” she says, which causes more robust blood flow to the internal organs. Acupuncture is also thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect.
- Drink More Water
Menstrual cramps, or primary dysmenorrhea, are an uncomfortable part of life for many women on a monthly basis. Drinking more water may help ease bloating, which makes symptoms worse. Get in the habit of drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water per day, especially during your period. Add some mint or a lemon wedge to make it more palatable. While you’re at it, back off of the salt, which encourages fluid retention and bloating. Avoid alcohol, which promotes dehydration. Some women experience diarrhea in conjunction with menstrual cramps. It’s important to replace lost fluids by drinking plenty of water.