How to tackle severe menstrual cramps

By Michell Svesve

Most girls begin their menstrual cycles between the ages of 8 and 15. They normally commence after the girl’s breast and pubic hairs begin to show and develop. Menstruation is a normal and natural process whereby blood and other components of the uterus lining get discharged from the female body. Menstruation happens to females from the onset of puberty all the way to menopause excluding the pregnancy period . 

Though the process is natural to almost all females ,not all of them go through the same experiences . Unlike others, the menstrual cycle can be an extremely painful experience where carrying out normal day to day activities can be unbearably painful and can even be impossible. 

 What causes extreme period pain?

As the uterus begins to shed its built-up lining so as to make space for a new lining to develop, pain hormones called prostaglandins get released and lead to muscle contractions within the uterus causing some pain. For some the hormones get released in large quantities thereby making the process painful. If the hormones get released in smaller quantities, some females might just get away with a dull and annoying pain just below the abdomen.

The pain can also exist as a result of endometriosis, which is when your lining gets formed outside the uterus and on your Fallopian tubes instead . Another common condition leading to severe pain, would be fibroids on your Uterus.

There are a number of methods you can try adopt to lessen the pain once your period begins .

Home remedies 

1.Use heat

Once you start feeling a bit of pain , try to put a hot water bottle or heating pad on your lower abdomen. That way the blobs of cloated blood trying to come out will melt and not cause extra pain. You can also use a hot towel if a heating pad is not available. Warm showers are also an option as they have the same effect as a heating pad.

2.Exercising 

The more exercises you do the more bearable period pain can be for you. Try running and adding more workouts to your daily routine. Constant exercising and working out leads to the production and release of endophins. Endophins are hormones in the body that interact with pain receptors in the brain thereby hindering the perception of pain all together . There are a couple of yoga poses that are recommended for females when they are experiencing severe menstrual cramps. They do have a soothing effect when in extreme pain.

3.Diet

There are a number of foods one can avoid eating to help reduce period pain. These include foods rich in animal fat, caffeine, spices and too much salt and sugar. Therefore, to be able to handle the pain a bit better, try eating foods rich in vitamins for example fruits and vegetables and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish. Water is also key when it comes to reducing pain. Water , especially warm or hot, helps increase blood flow and relaxes tense muscles, in this case muscles in the abdomen.

Recommended medicines

Over the counter drugs 

There are a number of pain relief drugs that one can take to reduce pain, namely ibuprofen and naproxen. These drugs reduce the production of prostaglandin in the body. Take them a day before your period starts or just when you begin to feel pain. Keeping tabs on when your period begins and ends helps you know when to take your pills in advance thereby improving your pain management.

Birth Control

Another option which is more effective than the drugs mentioned above is hormonal birth control. Oral birth control pills, birth control injections and a skin patch lead to the induced production of hormones that prevent ovulation and in turn reduces menstrual pain.

If the pain persists even after trying the methods above , try seeing a doctor and get more help and information on what could be the cause of the extreme pain.

References

The Healthline Editorial Team and Erica Cirino, Healthline Editorial Team and Erica Cirino. “Menstrual Cramp Home Remedies for Natural Relief.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 22 July 2014, www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/menstrual-cramp-remedies#see-a-doctor.

Mayo, Clinic. “Menstrual Cramps.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 8 Apr. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menstrual-cramps/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20374944.

Featured photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels

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