Lucky is she who never suffers from period pain or menstrual cramps. But, unfortunately for most women, menstrual cramps are a monthly occurrence and are a natural part of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome). They are caused by prostaglandins—substances that occur naturally in the body and cause the uterus to contract—and can be mild or severe. Menstrual pain that is more severe can feel like sharp stabs or a nagging pain that spreads through the belly and lower back, and can also cause the legs to feel tired and heavy. Dizziness, nausea, diarrhoea, or even vomiting may also be a part of more severe menstrual pain.
Caring for cramps
If you suffer frequently from cramps and pain during your period, try one or a combination of these tips to help you feel better:
- Consult your doctor or health care person about the use of over-the-counter pain relievers that will help to make the cramps less severe.
- Regular exercise, yoga, and stretching will help to keep the body in shape and are effective in lessening the effect of period cramps.
- Gently rub your abdomen to help relax the muscles.
- Vitamin B1 or magnesium supplements may reduce cramps, bloating, and other PMS symptoms.
- Take a warm shower.
- Apply a heating pad on your lower abdomen or lower back to reduce the effects of the menstrual cramps.
- Drink a sufficient amount of water daily to help relieve cramps.
- Bananas are potassium-rich and help to reduce cramps.
- Drink warm chamomile tea or green tea with lemon to relax the body. Hot chocolate works great too, but lay off the alcohol and caffeinated drinks during this time. In most cases they will only make the cramps worse.
- Eat foods that are rich in calcium and magnesium. Milk, cheese, yogurt, or other calcium and magnesium supplements are good too.
- Eat dark chocolate. It’s scientifically proven to help relieve pain.
- Take a nap to distract your mind and calm the muscles.
- Wear loose clothes that are not constricting and will not put pressure on the abdomen.
- Lying on your side with your knees tucked into your chest can help to temporarily reduce the pain.
- Stick to a healthy diet throughout the month and make sure it includes plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and plenty of water.