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Cramps affect many people before and during their period. While some people only experience mild cramping, others are not so lucky. In some cases, the pain of menstrual cramps can be extreme and make a dent in your daily life.
If your menstrual pain affects your style every month, there are steps you can take to regain control. Here are 10 proven home remedies that can ease your discomfort and help you get back on track of your busy life.
Wearing a heated patch or a wrap on your abdomen can help relax the muscles of the uterus. It is these muscles that cause menstrual cramps. Heat can also increase circulation in the abdomen, which can reduce pain.
According to a 2004 study, using a thermal wrap for cramps is actually more effective than taking an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever, such as paracetamol.
In addition to being effective in relieving pain and cramps, research also showed that participants who used a thermal wrap had less fatigue and mood swings.
You can find abdominal heat patches at your local pharmacy and online. They are super easy to use. Just peel them and stick them on your abdomen.
Electric heating pads and hot water bottles are not as comfortable to use as patches. But they are good options if you spend time at home and do not need to move much.
Research suggests that some essential oils may help relieve menstrual cramps when they are massaged in the abdomen, especially when used in a mixture of oils.
Oils that appear to be more effective in reducing menstrual cramps, due to their ability to increase circulation, include:
You can find essential oils online or at your local health food store. Some pharmacies can also sell them.
Before using essential oils, you will want to mix them with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or jojoba oil. Carrier oils work by “safely transporting” the essential oil in the skin and helping to spread the oil over a large area.
Once your oil mixture is ready to use, rub a few drops between your hands and then gently massage your belly.
Experts say that massaging with circular movements for only five minutes a day before and during your period can help decrease cramping and increase circulation in your abdomen.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) and aspirin (Bufferin) are effective treatments for menstrual cramps.
These medications work best if they are taken at the first sign of cramping or pain.
You can find ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin at any pharmacy. Be sure to take it only as directed, and talk to your doctor first if you have a history of heart, liver or kidney problems, or if you have asthma, ulcers or bleeding disorders.
According to a recent study, low to medium intensity aerobic exercise can help reduce the pain caused by menstrual cramps.
In this study, scientists discovered that women who did 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three days a week, for eight weeks, showed significant reductions in menstrual cramps.
To adapt an aerobic workout to your schedule, consider riding a bike to work, going for a walk at lunch time, dancing to the rhythm of your favorite songs or playing a sport you enjoy.
Soaking in a warm bathtub is another way to surround the pelvic muscles with the heat they need to relax.
You can improve the power to relieve the pain of a good soak by adding a few drops of essential oils, such as lavender, sage or rose, to the water in your bath.
Try to relax in a warm bath for at least 15 minutes to get the most benefits.
One study suggests that, like aerobic exercise, yoga may also be useful for reducing menstrual cramps.
In this study, experts found that women who participated in a 60-minute yoga class once a week for 12 weeks showed significant reductions in menstrual pain.
If you want to try yoga, look for a class with a physical component and a relaxation component. Research suggests that this combination is more effective in reducing pain from menstrual cramps.
Several studies suggest that different types of dietary supplements may help reduce menstrual cramps, although it is not known exactly how they work. Some supplements that promise to reduce menstrual pain include:
You can find dietary supplements at your local pharmacy or online. Use as directed and talk to your doctor if you are taking other medications, as they may interact with the supplements.
While supplements can help relieve menstrual pain, it is also a good idea to avoid certain foods that can cause fluid retention, swelling and discomfort. Some types of foods to avoid when you have cramps include:
- salty foods
- fatty foods
According to a 2000 study, a low-fat vegetarian diet can help reduce menstrual pain and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
According to experts, you are more likely to have abdominal cramping during your period if you are dehydrated.
Try to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. You will need more if it's hot, if you've been exercising or if you're just thirsty.
Acupressure is a non-invasive Chinese medicine treatment that is used for many health problems. This treatment involves the use of fingers to apply firm pressure on specific parts of the body to help relieve several symptoms.
According to a 2004 study, rubbing circles in the calf at a point on the ankle can relieve menstrual pain.
The way to do this is:
- Measure four fingers from the inner ankle.
- Rub this area firmly for several minutes.
- Repeat daily as necessary before and during your period.
Menstrual cramps are caused by contractions in the uterus. These contractions are caused by changes in the hormonal levels of your body. When you menstruate, your uterus contracts and removes its lining, which is released as blood through the vagina.
Some people are more likely to experience menstrual pain. Risk factors include people who:
- are under 30 years old
- bleed a lot during your periods
- have irregular bleeding
- have a family history of menstrual pain
- began puberty early (11 years or earlier)
Although menstrual cramps are very common, severe pain is not normal. You will want to make an appointment to see a doctor if:
- your menstrual cramps are so painful that you cannot do your daily activities
- started having severe menstrual cramps at age 25 or later
Extreme pain before or during your period may be a sign of a more serious health condition that needs treatment, such as:
Menstrual cramps are very common, but there are times when they can interfere with your daily life. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to relieve the pain and discomfort caused by these annoying cramps.
However, if the pain does not go away after a couple of days, or is so extreme that you have difficulty functioning, be sure to follow up with your doctor.
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