Most women experience menstrual cramps at some point in their life, and some of them will even miss school, work or social activities because of the pain. Cramps occur because the uterus contracts in order to expel the endometrium when a pregnancy has not occurred in that month. Here are some tips to help you deal with that physiological pain.
What to Do for Cramps
1. Take Supplements
500 mg of magnesium and 1000 mg of calcium supplements per day can help relax the uterine muscles, therefore reducing the severity of menstrual cramps. In some people, it can produce diarrhea. If that happens to you, then consider reducing the dose.
2. Eat Right
What to do for cramps? If you don't want to take supplements, then you can eat foods that are rich in magnesium (nuts, spinach, bananas, etc.) and calcium (milk, figs, spinach, etc.). Overall, green vegetables have higher amount of these nutrients, and they also have a diuretic effect that can help reduce bloating and relax your uterine muscles.
3. Try Acupuncture
It has been proved that stimulating certain body parts with acupuncture can help soothe menstrual pain by relaxing your nervous system and regulating your blood flow. Find a professional to do this.
4. Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine increases muscle contractions and reduces blood flow by contracting the blood vessels, therefore increasing the pain of menstrual cramps. Avoid coffee, caffeinated teas, and sodas.
5. Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish like salmon and sardines. It can also be taken as a supplement with a dose of 1 or 2 capsules per day. Not only can menstrual cramps become less frequent and severe, but you can also get many other health benefits like cholesterol and triglycerides reduction, blood pressure control, weight control, among others.
6. Put Light Pressure on Your Abdomen
What to do for cramps? Putting gentle pressure on your abdomen for about 15 seconds can help distract you from the cramps. You can also make a circular movement as massaging the area for better results.
7. Take Over-the-Counter Painkillers
There are many kinds of over-the-counter painkillers in the market, and many of them are specifically manufactured to relieve menstrual cramps. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are some of them; just make sure to follow the recommended dosage.
8. Consider Taking Contraceptive Pills
Talk to your doctor about the possibility of taking contraceptive pills and discuss which one is appropriate for you. These drugs can reduce cramps and bloating, and help with many other menstrual-related symptoms.
9. Place Something Warm on Your Abdomen
A heating pack or even common bottles filled with warm water can help you soothe menstrual cramps. Just place them on your abdomen and lower back for a few minutes. Heat increases uterine blood flow and relaxes the muscles, thus reducing menstrual cramps and pain.
You can also microwave or iron a wet towel or piece of cloth for using.
10. Consume Ginger
This underground stem has proven to be very effective in reducing bloating and menstrual cramps, as well as helping control irregular periods.
- Just peel a small piece and grate it; then boil it in some water and strain it in order to make a ginger tea.
- You can add honey and lemon to give it more flavor.
- Drink this beverage at least two times daily.
If making tea is not your thing, you can also grate or finely chop some raw peeled ginger and add it to your salads or meals.
11. Try Blackstrap Molasses
Blackstrap molasses is a substance very rich in vitamins and minerals like magnesium, selenium, potassium, calcium, vitamin B, and iron. These nutrient will help soothe menstrual cramps by reducing blood clot formation and relaxing the uterine muscles.
Simply add two tablespoons of blackstrap molasses to a glass of warm milk and drink it anytime you feel menstrual cramps or discomfort.
12. Drink Chamomile Tea
What to do for cramps? Try chamomile. Chamomile has antispasmodic and relaxing properties that will help ease uterine contractions, thus relieving menstrual cramps and pain.
- Bring water to boil and wait a few minutes before introducing tea bags in it.
- Let it rest for 5 minutes and remove the bags from the infusion.
- Add honey or lemon if you like and drink two to three cups of decaffeinated chamomile tea per day.
13. Try Parsley
This herb has some compounds that can help decrease some premenstrual syndrome symptoms, including menstrual cramps.
- You can eat it raw in salads.
- You can also make a tea by taking a fistful of parsley and pouring some hot boiled water on it. Wait 10 minutes and then strain the infusion.
- Add honey, ginger or lemon to improve the flavor.
- Drink this beverage two times per day.
When to See a Doctor
There are some medical conditions like thyroid dysfunction or polycystic ovary syndrome that can lead to irregular period cycles, severe menstrual cramps, and considerable menstrual blood loss. If after trying many of the suggestions listed above, you still experience severe menstrual cramps, then you should visit a doctor to make sure your symptoms are not caused by an underlying condition.