Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) are excruciating pains in the lower part of your belly. A lot of women can have menstrual cramps just before and also during their menstrual cycle.
Menstrual cramps can actually be very uncomfortable and painful, for some ladies, this discomfort is simply annoying, and then for the others, menstrual cramps can be severe enough to affect their everyday activities for a few days each month.
What causes these menstrual cramps?
These menstrual cramps occur for a reason; during your menstrual period, the uterus contracts or squeezes up making the lining come off the walls of the uterus and leave your body. Therefore when the uterus cramps or squeezes up, it’s just helping the menstrual blood flow out of the vagina.
A lot of women get these cramps during their periods at some point in their lives. They usually feel like a throbbing pain in your lower belly. The cramps could begin a couple of days before your period comes and sometimes continue throughout your period. These cramps are usually worse especially during the first few days of your period when your menstrual flow is heaviest.
You can possibly start feeling these cramps the moment you get your first period. Your periods may become more or less pain throughout your life though it varies between individual. However, for many women, cramps become less painful as they get older in age.
Menstrual cramps can be painful and irritating, here are some things that can help ease cramps:
1. Over-the-counter Pain Medicine
Something like ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol), always follow the instructions for each drug. Ensure you talk with your doctor before taking any pain medication or if you have an allergy to aspirin or severe asthma.
2. Engaging in Some Aerobic Exercises
Some exercises can help with cramps. Aerobic workouts like spinning, running, and dancing can get the blood circulating throughout your body thereby reducing the menstrual pain.
Note: If your cramps aren’t too bad, then maintain a steady pace workout.
3. A Hot bath or a Heating pad
Taking a hot bath or putting a heating pad on your belly or lower back can help ease your cramps. Soaking yourself in a hot bath or using a heating pad on your lower belly may ease menstrual cramps. This heat therapy works by calming the muscles of the uterus thereby increasing blood flow and easing pain.
4. Having an Orgasm
Orgasms may get rid of or relieve menstrual cramps. Since menstrual cramps are an outcome of the uterus contracting to release its lining. The muscles of your uterus also contract when you have an orgasm, that release should bring some relief from menstrual cramps.
Stress relief may help ease the period cramps in some women. Preliminary studies have found out that women with high levels of stress are more than twice as likely to report having painful menstruation. Take positive steps to cut out needless stress and then you’ll decrease the rate and harshness of menstrual cramps.
6. Hormonal Birth Control (Like The Patch, Pill, Ring, Implant, And Hormonal IUD)
Oral birth control pills comprise of hormones that inhibit ovulation and decrease the severity of menstrual cramps. These hormones can also be provided as an injection, an implant placed under your skin, a patch worn on your skin, a flexible ring placed into your vagina or an intrauterine device (IUD).
7. Acupuncture and Acupressure
Acupuncturists can also treat menstrual pain centered on an individualized assessment of the excesses and shortages of energy (qi) situated in various meridians. These shortages are often identified in the liver and spleen meridians. Moxibustion (a method in which the herb mugwort is burned over specific acupuncture points) is usually added to improve needling treatment. Acupressure may also be able to relieve period pain.
8. Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
This is a pain relief therapy that makes use of mild electric currents to stimulate the nerves to relieve pain. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a therapy that makes use of low voltage electrical current to provide pain relief. A TENS unit consists of a battery-powered device that supplies electrical impulses through the electrodes placed on the surface of the skin.
9. Watch Your Diet
Certain vitamins and herbs like vitamin B1, fish oil, fenugreek, ginger, valerian, zataria, and zinc sulfate. Ensure you reduce fat and eat more vegetables for cramp relief. Try to eliminate trans-fatty acids that are commonly found in commercially baked goods. Consume foods that are high in calcium like beans, almonds, and green leafy vegetables. Also pick foods that are high in antioxidants, which include blueberries, cherries, tomatoes, squash and bell pepper.
10. The Use Of Ginger
Ginger may be as effective as regular painkillers we know. Two systematic reviews of ginger for menstrual pain found that the root was likely more effective for reducing pain when compared to over-the-counter drugs. A clinical trial that was conducted on more than 100 students with normal to severe period pain found out that the pain was similarly reduced in students taking ginger, as students taking the Mefenamic acid or NSAIDs Ibuprofen.
What You Should Know
Menstrual cramps are just a usual part of getting your period; it’s just that sometimes some women have excruciating pain during their making it difficult to do everyday things. If your period pain is very bad, and over-the-counter drugs don’t help, talk with your doctor. The doctor can help with other ways to manage the pain, or they may want to check your body to see if there’s something more serious going on.
Cramps that are really bad and painful may be a sign of:
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease — an infection in the reproductive organs.
Endometriosis — a condition where the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus.
Adenomyosis — when the tissue that lines the uterus grows into the muscle wall of the uterus.
Uterine fibroids —non-cancerous tumors that grow inside the uterus, in the walls of the uterus, or on the outside of the uterus.
Cramps triggered by these conditions may start when you get older and might get worse as time passes. They may last longer than other cramps or even last longer than the last day of your period.
If you have super bad cramps that you can’t treat or other period symptoms that are difficult to deal with, ensure to call your doctor.