Menstrual cramps: 7 tips to relieve pain

Menstrual cramps are a daily occurrence for many women, whatever their age. But how can you relieve the pain that can be far too debilitating during your period? We explain where they come from and share 7 tips to relieve them!

What causes menstrual cramps?

Menstrual cramps are characterized by pain, called dysmenorrhea, in the lower abdomen, sometimes even in the lower back. The pain may be accompanied by other menstrual symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, etc.

Menstrual cramps are due to an excess of prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is the molecule that causes contractions and hence expulsion of the endometrium. Prostaglandin also makes the nerve endings of the uterus much more sensitive to the uterus.

Although prostaglandin is an essential hormone for the expulsion of menstrual blood, in the endometrium, when produced in excess, it causes pain.

There are two types of dysmenorrhea: primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea.

Primary dysmenorrhea occurs in early adolescence and generally subsides in adulthood, over time and after pregnancy. It is much more common than secondary dysmenorrhea, which begins in adulthood.

Is it normal to have menstrual cramps?

It's normal to have menstrual cramps, to feel a little pain during your period. However, if menstrual cramps become a daily handicap, preventing you from doing the things you want to do, then this is not normal and treatment should be considered. Menstruation should not prevent you from leading a normal life.

Dysmenorrhea can have deeper causes than hormonal ones, including :

  • endometriosis: a gynecological disease affecting one in 10 women, characterized by a mutation of uterine tissue outside the uterus. It is the main cause of dysmenorrhea.
  • adenomyosis: a type of endometriosis internal to the uterus.
  • fibroids : non-cancerous tumors composed of fibrous tissue that develop in the uterus.

Other factors can also be the cause of menstrual pain:

  • congenital anomalies
  • ovarian cysts or tumors
  • pelvic disease

Please note: some types of contraception, such as the copper IUD, can make your period much more painful. If you've just changed your contraception and your periods are causing you pain, talk to your doctor. Maybe this contraception isn't right for you, and another one will suit you better.

If the pain is sudden and persistent, not in the form of cramps/contractions, and accompanied by bleeding, you need to make sure it's not an ectopic pregnancy.

Our 7 tips to relieve the pain of menstrual cramps!

Fortunately, there are tricks you can use to relieve the pain of menstrual cramps. Here are a few of them.

Taking anti-cramp medication

The first method is to take anti-cramp medication. Depending on the intensity of your pain, you can take an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen.

Heat source: hot bath or hot water bottle

A well-known tip for relieving period pain is to apply heat to your belly. This can be a hot compress, a homemade hot water bottle or even a hot bath. The heat will relax the muscles in your lower abdomen, reducing period pain. Blood vessels will also be dilated, facilitating blood circulation and oxygen supply and relieving menstrual cramps.

Balanced diet for uterine cramps

Diet plays an essential role in the menstrual cycle, and particularly in relieving pain.

There's a clear link between inflammation and menstrual cramps. So it's a good idea to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet to reduce menstrual pain. Avoid foods that are too fatty, processed and industrialized, too sweet or salty.

Drinks such as alcohol and coffee should also be avoided if you suffer from painful periods.

You can consume, for example:

  • fruit and vegetables
  • sheep's milk or lactose-free dairy products
  • fiber-rich foods
  • whole-grain cereals
  • lentils
  • etc

Making good use of dietary supplements and plants

In addition to diet, dietary supplements can also help relieve menstrual cramps.

Of course, check with your health care professional before taking any dietary supplements.

Here are some dietary supplements that may help relieve your pain:

  • magnesium: if you are deficient in magnesium, your aches and pains may be more severe
  • ginger
  • vitamin B1
  • vitamin E
  • zinc

Talk to your doctor to find out which supplements will help you cope better with painful periods.

Relax to avoid stress

Stress plays an undeniable role in the increase of stomachaches during menstruation. In fact, some studies show that people under stress are twice as likely to suffer from menstrual cramps.

Several techniques can help you reduce your stress levels and relax, including :

  • meditation
  • yoga
  • sophrology
  • cardiac coherence
  • or simply doing activities that you enjoy and that relax you, such as reading a book, painting, watching a film, going for a walk, etc...

Practice a light sporting activity

Although you might think the opposite, light sport is a very good way of reducing menstrual pain.

Sport stimulates blood circulation, circulating oxygen and reducing menstrual cramps. What's more, when you engage in physical activity, you release endorphins, the feel-good hormone.

Relieving menstrual cramps by making love

Orgasm and sexual activity can help sexual activity can reduce menstrual pain. The contractions associated with orgasm relax the muscles, and the endorphins released by sexual activity relieve pain.

Menstrual cramps FAQ

How can I get rid of menstrual cramps?

There are natural, easy-to-use methods for relieving menstrual cramps, such as hot water bottles, sport and diet. But if the pain persists and gets worse, consult your health care professional: it's not normal to be in so much pain during your period that it disrupts your daily routine.

What calms the pain of menstrual cramps?

There's no miracle solution for every woman, but certain methods, such as exercise, food supplements, medication and diet, can have a positive impact on pain. It's up to you to find out which method suits you best!

You may also like