Ways To Relieve Your Period Cramps

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I have had issues with my menstrual cycle since my first period. I would skip for months at a time and, when I did get one, it would last a few days and be an unbelievable amount of blood. This all didn't really phase me since I wasn't really having sex at the time. Once I became older, and things like intercourse and all around caring for my body grew, my period started to worry me.

I would buy stockpiles of pregnancy tests and would have to purchase heaps of tampons and pads for the war that would eventually start. At one point in my life I even had to sleep with a towel underneath me since waking up in a pool of my own blood wasn't just a scary dream, but a reality. I didn't want to get on birth control (for my own personal reasons), but I was at a loss of what I should be doing.

Eventually, I figured out that I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and that my periods were irregular because of stress, diet, and exercise. I was now on a mission to bring back my period. I cut out gluten, dairy, and soy products. My food now incorporated supplements I needed and I was taking any measures I could to reduce my stress. After five months of absolutely no period (which sounds great until you are on the receiving end), I finally had a regular seven day period.

Now I can happily say that I have had a regular period for the past six months. While still substantial, they are easy to maintain (no towel required). With this monthly present, I had new symptoms start to pop up that I had never encountered before. Menstrual cramps have always been a huge side effect, but now they can sometimes double in pain. I also get horrible PMS, headaches, fatigue, and breast tenderness. Through trial and error, I have found a few things to help calm this pain during hell week.

If you are having unusual pain or irregular periods, I encourage you to seek medical assistance. If you are just someone who is sick of Flow and want to calm some of the aches, I have a few solutions that might be beneficial for you.

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A heating pad is your best friend.
My mother has used heating pads since before I could walk. I always that she was just being overdramatic and prissy with her little collection, but through time I have realized she was actually a genius. One month when my period had skyrocketed to painful proportions, I went to my mom clutching my lower abdomen in pain. She immediately forced a heating pad onto the area and had me wait for it to heat up.

Within five minutes I was already feeling the pain lessen drastically. There have even been studies that show this solution has been just as effective as taking painkillers for some women. One main reason is that heat helps to relax our muscles (and we all know our muscles are a little tense during this week). You can buy a heating pad or warm up a bottle or towel to get the same effect. Trust me, if you follow any tip this should be it!

Drink more fluids.
We all know water is healthy for us, but did you know it can help ease menstrual cramps? Water is a critical component in getting rid of bloat belly, a common symptom during our periods. Do you have runny stools during your period? You are not weird (trust me). However, you are getting dehydrated when this takes place. Making sure your body stays well hydrated will help reduce symptoms that are associated with your menstrual cycle.

While we are on the hydration kick, you should also try to reduce your sodium intake as well. Sodium is a hydration sucker and, during your period, can cause unnecessary swelling and bloating. There are also a few (not a lot) studies that have shown some herbal teas to help in cramps. While you should be careful since some contain estrogen (something you don't want to put in your body unless told by a physician), others can lessen your pain.

One tea that is known for reducing pain is cramp bark. This herb contains methyl salicylate, a compound that is known to reduce pain and inflammation. Hot drinks also work in the same way a heating pad does. The heat can soothe your stomach which, in turn, can also help lower nasty cramps.

Massage your abdomen.
It might sound weird, but it can actually help a lot of your discomfort. Even a little five-minute massage daily can help increase blood flow, which aids in relieving menstrual cramps. You can also kick it up a notch by incorporating essential oils that have been shown to help reduce pain and inflammation. You can try lavender, sage, or marjoram in your little spa time.

Want another form of spa relief? Try acupuncture during this time of the month. Acupuncture and acupressure help relax your nervous system which, in turn, helps increase blood flow. While there are not many studies on this matter, a lot of testimonies have proven this has improved in reducing pain. Scared of needles? You can just stick with a massage (either from yourself or another individual).

Boost your endorphins.
I know, we all here that exercise helps but want to punch whoever said that in the face. While I don't think you should necessarily overwork your body during this week, light activity can help. Want another way to boost endorphins? You can also give yourself an orgasm. Endorphins are known as the bodies natural feel-good hormone. When you help promote this, it also helps lower any pain you are feeling. You can do this by
  • going on a walk
  • doing a light workout
  • take a yoga class
  • masturbation or sex
  • going on a swim

Up your magnesium intake.
Most all of us are not getting enough magnesium in our diets. I have talked about the importance of this supplement in a recent article because it is just that vital for our health. This supplement regulates our nerve and muscle function, something that is important in lowering menstrual cramps.

You can incorporate this into your diet by taking a daily supplement (which is probably the easiest way to get your daily intake). You can also eat magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, avocado, bananas, raspberries, nuts and seeds, and even seafood. Don't just take this during your period though! For best results, you should add this to your daily intake for an overall healthy body and period.

Take pain medication.
I try to live a holistic life as much as possible. For one main reason, I hate taking pills. Since I was a child, I had troubles taking pills, and it has formed into adulthood. Now it is probably psychosomatic, but I still hate the process. That being said, pain medication is one of the easiest ways to reduce your cramps. Make sure to take the recommended dose and keep an eye on what you are digesting. I personally think Ibuprofen is the most beneficial over the counter pain reliever, but it is up to you and your body.

Periods suck. Have you ever seen that picture of your uterus on an average week and then on your period? It literally doubles in size. Personally, I think we should all get paid leave for the first few days of our periods. I also think it is utterly ridiculous that we are charged a hefty fee for the essentials we need just to walk outside our house (or that some countries don't even have these products). However, if I went on that rant, we would be here all day. Let me know in the comments below what you do to relieve your period cramps.


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