From the age of around 11 until around 45 a period is something a vast majority of women will go through on a regular monthly basis. That means for an average of 34 years, we will have 408 periods. That’s a lot of – I won’t say it, but for some of us that’s a lot of uncomfortable cramps. For the small percentage who don’t get cramps, well, I hope you realize just how lucky you are!
Many women experience excruciating pain, mood swings, headaches, cravings and other not-so-ideal side effects that are caused by the monthly visit from Aunt Flow.
A lot of women swear that taking birth control pills have helped them achieve a shorter less painful period, or that painkillers such as Midol or Pamprin help diminish the cramps, but there there are also more natural ways to approach alleviating the symptoms of menstruation.
8 Natural Secrets To A Less Painful Period
1. Keep Hydrated
Drink a lot of water. Avoid coffee as it can lead to dehydration. If your body is dehydrated it can produce a hormone called vasopressin that contributes to cramps.
2. Utilize Heat
Try a hot water bottle or heating pad wherever you are experiencing the pain, for some that is in the lower abdomen, for others it is lower back, for me it is both. A wrap around heating pad is my friend.
Sometimes it feels like exercise is the last thing you want to do when you are experiencing painful cramps, but light to moderate exercise, particularly aerobic exercise can definitely alleviate the cramping sensation. It does so by releasing beta-endorphins, which are internal opioids, which is like your own morphine made by your body. “It produces analgesia [pain relief] and helps to burn the prostaglandins -chemicals released during menstruation that cause muscle contractions -much faster.” Says Gustavo Rossi, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington.
4. Do The Pelvic Tilt
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and your buttocks and raise your pelvis, angling it toward your head. Press your lower back to the floor, and hold the position for a few seconds. Gently lower your buttocks to the floor. Repeat several times.
5. Limit Salty Snacks
I know just how tempting salty snacks can be during this time. Eating too much salt can contribute to bloating, so it may be a wise choice to at least limit your intake of salty foods. If you are having a mad craving, you could consider making your own snacks, that way you can control the amount of salt you are using and even use a high quality type salt that is high in minerals.
6. Eat Healthy/Citrus Fruits & Leafy Greens
Although it can be very enticing to binge on pizza and other greasy foods, doing so will only make you feel worse. It is important to eat healthy during this time if you want to stabilize your mood and any discomfort. Consider foods that are high in vitamin K, as they can prevent excess bleeding. Make sure you are getting enough iron, some leafy greens such as swiss chard and collards contain a lot of iron which can become somewhat depleted during menstruation for some women. Cashews and other nuts can also be a great source. Citrus fruits help to enhance iron absorption in the body, so consider some lemon water or orange juice with your meal.
7. Relax, Take A Hot Bath
Not only will the heat from the bath soothe the cramping sensation, but it will also help you relax. Try lighting some candles and adding some bubbles and a few drops of lavender essential oil.
8. Eat Chocolate!
Yes! You read that right, it did not say Don’t Eat Chocolate, it says EAT CHOCOLATE! Just make sure that it is real chocolate, and by real I mean anything with a 65 or higher percentage of cacao. Cacao is a superfood and it has been said that it increases levels of serotonin in the brain, which means, that it makes you happy. If you are happy chances are you will be less moody.
For some women, switching menstrual products can do wonders for cramps. Check out this article about alternatives to conventional tampons and pads.
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