Whats A Normal Menstrual Cycle
Your menstrual cycle lasts from the first day of your period to the first day of your next period. The average menstrual cycle is about 25-30 days, but it can be as short as 21 days or longer than 35 its different from person to person. The number of days in your cycle may also vary from month to month. When you get your period, its normal to bleed anywhere from 2 to 7 days.
The average person loses anywhere between 1-6 tablespoons of menstrual fluid during each period. It can be thin or clumpy, and varies in color from dark red to brown or pink. If your period is so heavy that you have to change maxi pads or super tampons every hour, call your doctor or your local Planned Parenthood health center.
Everyones body is different, so their periods are different too whats normal varies from person to person, and can change over your lifetime. Some birth control methods or health conditions may also affect your period.
Yoga Against Period Pain
Yoga doesnt mean that you have to stand on your head but can be just a series of simple stretches. If you practice yoga regularly dont stop, and even if you feel that yoga is not for you, try a session and learn a couple of poses to use for when you have period pain. And if you do want to stand on your head, do. The myth that you shouldnt do certain yoga poses has been debunked. Concerns that this would lead to worry retrograde menstruation, or the blood flowing back, as a risk for endometriosis are no longer accepted. This was based on research dating back to 1927.
Eating And Drinking Differently
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Keep A Heating Pad Handy
For some women, using a heating pad or taking a hot bath or shower can provide some relief from period pain, says Dr. Worly. Theres some science behind this age-old remedy: In 2005, researchers from University College London showed how heat placed on the skin can block pain signals, as well as deactivate painful sensations at a molecular level for up to an hour.
Topical heat can also relax tense uterine muscles, which may help reduce the contractions that cause cramping. In a 2001 study in Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who wore a heated abdominal patch during their period reported significant reductions in pain, compared to those who wore a placebo, unheated patch.
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Lets Talk About Yoga For Menstrual Cramps
Using yoga for menstrual cramps is an effective pain-relief strategy.
First, think about the areas of your body that typically experience pain from crampingyour belly, pelvis, hips, and lower back. These areas can be targeted for pain relief through certain yoga poses.
Additionally, the emotional symptoms of PMS and menstruation can also be reduced by yoga, so it can do more than treat period pain.
There are several different schools of yoga out there, and countless poses and adaptations. It can be a little overwhelming to start from scratch! Whether you have a significant amount of yoga experience or none at all, we want you to be able to use yoga to treat your menstrual cramps.
Here are a few specific yoga poses for menstrual cramps. We encourage you to give these a try!
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Using Pain Relievers For Period Cramps
One safe, quick option to get rid of or soothe period cramps is over the counter pain relief such as ibuprofen .
Various clinical studies have shown that ibuprofen can be a super effective and fast way to eliminate cramps. Ibuprofen has also been shown to be more effective for period cramps than pain relievers with the ingredient acetaminophen . The National Institutes of Health says Aspirin or Ibuprofen are usually adequate to reduce menstrual pain.
Doctors say its ideal to start taking pain relievers slightly in advance of the cramps.* If the timing doesnt work out and you cant plan ahead, doctors say that pain relievers work best when taken at the first sign of pain from your periods.
*Note: Before you take any new medication, read the directions, and take as directed. We recommend you speak with your nurse or doctor if youre currently on other medicines, have a health condition, or are not sure if this medication is safe for you.
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When To See A Doctor
A person may wish to talk to a doctor if home remedies do not help reduce cramps or if they are experiencing very severe cramps.
A doctor can suggest other home remedies to try or prescribe medications, such as birth control pills or some types of pain reliever, to manage the symptoms.
Other symptoms that may warrant a visit to the doctor include:
- very heavy bleeding
- cramps that get worse over time or with age
- severe pain or discomfort
- cramps that interfere with daily life
These symptoms may indicate an underlying condition, for which a doctor will be able to suggest an effective treatment.
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Home Remedies For Period Cramps
When youre not feeling great, there are some home remedies for menstrual cramps you can turn to for relief.
When you have an aching muscle, you might turn to heat to loosen up any knots and ease your soreness. The same idea holds true for period cramps. A heating pad or stick-on heating wrap can provide pain relief.
When you have your period, the last thing you might want to do is hit the gym. However, exercising can help with pain from cramps. Heat and exercise are actually our two first-line options for nonmedical treatment, says Dr. Levine. Weve found that people who exercise during their periods do tend to have less pain. Doctors arent quite sure why, although its suspected the relief comes from the release of chemicals called endorphins, which make you feel good.
When youre not feeling great, warm beverages such as caffeine-free tea or hot water with honey can be soothing. Dr. Levine says these might not have any science-based benefit, but if they make you feel better, these are perfectly acceptable to drink. Applying essential oils as well cant hurt, although these too dont have any science-based benefit.
Birth Control Pills May Lessen Painful Cramping Too
While not exactly a home remedy, birth control pills and hormonal intrauterine devices are potential tools in your anticramping arsenal and should not be overlooked, Thielen says.
Consider cramp relief a benefit to some types of contraception. Many women find relief from painful cramps when they start the pill, Thielen says. Hormonal birth control typically lessens the amount of bleeding, and less bleeding can translate into fewer cramps, she says.
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Over The Counter Pain Relievers Use It Only When Its Severe
Medications to reduce period pain are commonly available and you can consume before going to school to have a comfortable day.
However, take medication after consultation of a medical expert to avoid complications at such tender age.
At the same time, it is essential that the body develops immunity and strength for tolerance of pain, so taking pain relievers every single time is not advisable.
Caution: Pain relievers may also have several side effects like heavy or light flow, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and headaches, and thus should be used cautiously.
What Causes Period Cramps
When you get your period, you shed your endometrium, or the lining of your uterus. Shedding this material also causes your body to release prostaglandins, or chemicals that mimic the functions of a hormone.
This release of prostaglandins causes your uterus to cramp and contract, says Dr. Levine. The pain associated with period cramps is literally your uterus contracting.
Not everyone who has a period experiences cramps. And you might have bad cramps one month, and be fine the next month. However, those who do have cramps tend to start having them about two days before the onset of bleeding. These cramps can continue about three days into your period before slowly starting to taper off, adds Dr. Levine.
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Tame Chronic Sleep Problems
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep quality has an effect on menstrual symptoms and many health conditions. In one study, women who had insomnia reported more severe dysmenorrhea and more interference with daily activities due to symptoms compared to women who did not have insomnia. Practice good sleep hygiene to keep painful menstruation symptoms at bay. This involves going to bed at about the same time every night. Establish and stick to a nightly routine to give your body the signal that it’s time for sleep. The routine may involve things like listening to soothing music, enjoying a cup of tea, or taking a warm bath. Getting adequate sleep to promote overall health will help you manage monthly symptoms associated with your menstrual cycle.
More Sleep Tips
Avoid TV, your smartphone, computer, and other screens before bed to help you wind down. You may feel more comfortable sleeping in different positions during your period. Pay extra attention to sleep hygiene in the days leading up to your period.
Don’t Skip Your Workout Routine
I get it: Working out is probably the last thing you feel like doing. But experts say getting your heart rate up is one of the best ways to alleviate PMS symptomsincluding bloat.
Bloating usually starts to kick in about one to two days before the start of a woman’s period.
People who live a more sedentary lifestyle tend to have more sluggish digestive systems, says Dr. Ross. Sweating it out can also help keep you stay regular and reduce constipation. Lighter workouts like swimming and yoga are your best bet, though high-intensity exercises may actually promote inflammation and, in turn, add to the bloat.
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When Do Period Cramps Occur
Though pain is not universal, research put forth in Informed Health states that most women experience menstrual cramps immediately preceding or at the time of bleeding. Typically, the pain lasts between one and three days and symptoms can range from mild to severe.
The same study found that 10% of women report pain that affects their daily life for up to three days of each cycle. Pain is most common in women under 20 years old. It is common for period cramps to lessen with age or following the birth of a child.
When All Else Fails Call The Doc
If nothing seems to be helping, talk to your gyno. They can check for any underlying causes, like endometriosis, that might be making your cramps extra-painful. She may also recommend birth control pills, which can thin the uterine lining and make cramps less intense. Cramps may be common, but they shouldn’t interfere with your life, so if you’ve tried everything and you’re still in pain every month, definitely let your doc know.
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Tens Or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Against Period Cramps
If youve had a baby you might have used a TENS machine during labour to relieve the pain of the contractions. But did you know it can also help with period pain? Delivering low voltage electrical shocks through two electrode sticky pads on your skin, you feel a tingling sensation. It works through interaction with your nerves going to the spinal cord and reducing the pain. It also potentially releases endorphins which are the body’s natural painkillers. Should you be interested in this option, try renting a machine before buying one.
Plants That Relieve Pain
Health practitioners may prescribe herbs to treat a woman’s menstrual cramps. Black cohosh, cramp bark, turmeric, and chasteberry are a few herbs that have been used. They are effective for pain relief and decreasing inflammation. Chasteberry has been used extensively in Europe for the treatment of irregular menstrual cycles, cyclical breast discomfort, premenstrual syndrome , and dysfunctional uterine bleeding. Make sure your doctor knows about all of your medical conditions, medications, and supplements because herbs are not appropriate for every woman. Herbs may interfere with the action of some medications or decrease their effectiveness.
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Treating Underlying Health Conditions
Sometimes, severe period pain is the result of an underlying health condition. In these cases, receiving treatment for the condition may help alleviate period pain.
Endometriosis is a condition that occurs when the tissue that lines the uterus begins to grow in areas outside of the uterine cavity. This tissue bleeds and swells at the same time as the monthly period.
Some symptoms of endometriosis
- chronic lower back and pelvic pain
- pain during or after sex
- painful bowel movements
These methods may not be able to stop period pain permanently, but they can work quickly.
Females who would prefer fast-acting pain relief for their period pain can try:
- applying a hot water bottle or heat pad to their abdomen
- taking a warm bath or shower
- lightly massaging the area
- using relaxation techniques, such as practicing gentle yoga or Pilates
- using a transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation device, which delivers a mild electrical current to the abdomen to reduce pain
- gently exercising
When possible, preventing period pain before it starts is a good method for managing the menstrual cycle. Females may be able to do this by making certain dietary changes or by quitting smoking.