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.
Conditions That Can Worsen Menstrual Cramps
How Can You Tell If The Pain Of Your Menstrual Cramps Is Normal
If you have severe or unusual menstrual cramps or cramps that last for more than two or three days, contact your healthcare provider. Both primary and secondary menstrual cramps can be treated, so its important to get checked.
First, you will be asked to describe your symptoms and menstrual cycles. Your healthcare provider will also perform a pelvic exam. During this exam, your provider inserts a speculum . The provider is able to examine your vagina, cervix and uterus. The doctor will feel for any lumps or changes. They may take a small sample of vaginal fluid for testing.
If your provider thinks you may have secondary dysmenorrhea, you may need additional tests, such as an ultrasound or a laparoscopy. If those tests indicate a medical problem, your healthcare provider will discuss treatments.
If you use tampons and develop the following symptoms, get medical help right away: over 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Dizziness, fainting or near fainting.
- A rash that looks like a sunburn.
These are symptoms of toxic shock syndrome, a life-threatening illness.
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Exercise To Help Relieve Menstrual Cramps
Although traditionally people with periods were expected to be less active and in some cases and cultures withdraw from society altogether, the evidence is that regular exercise before and during periods can help alleviate the pain. The type of exercise doesnt matter and Zumba can be as good as going for a run or a swim. You can absolutely continue with your usual lifestyle and sport using a menstrual cup.
Heat To Ease Menstrual Cramps
An old fashioned hot water bottle or more modern heating pad applied to the abdomen or tummy helps bring down the pain and also means you relax. That in itself will bring down the pain. Try our cherry stone pillow which has been made in Germany by a company that employs people with disabilities. This bag of organic cherry stones moulds itself to your body and gently but efficiently relieves menstrual cramps.
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Should I Watch For Any Problems
Most girls dont have any problems with their periods. But call your doctor if you:
- are 15 and havent started your period
- have had your period for more than 2 years and it still doesnt come regularly
- have bleeding between periods
- have severe cramps that dont get better with ibuprofen or naproxen
- have very heavy bleeding
- have periods that last more than about a week
- have severe PMS that gets in the way of your everyday activities
How Is Endometriosis Diagnosed And Treated
Lots of people get period pain and the other symptoms listed above that arent due to endometriosis. So diagnosing the condition can be hard. Doctors will ask questions and do an exam. They also might order an ultrasound. They might order a magnetic resonance imaging scan.
If the doctor thinks someone has endometriosis, the first step is to treat it with pain relievers, like ibuprofen, and hormone therapy like some types of birth control. Hormone therapy decreases bleeding, and as a result, eases pain.
If symptoms are severe or dont improve over 36 months of medical treatment, the doctor may recommend laparoscopic surgery, also called laparoscopy .
In laparoscopy, a surgeon inserts a thin tube with a camera through a tiny cut in the skin. The surgeon looks for the growths. They might also do a biopsy .
Laparoscopy is also a way to treat endometriosis because the surgeon can remove growths in the abdomen and pelvis. Sometimes, the surgeon will place an intrauterine device to deliver hormones. After surgery, most people have less pain.
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Yoga Position # : Corpse Pose
This pose is a frequent ending pose for yoga courses, and it can be especially useful in the practice of mindfulness to overcome menstrual pain. This one is less about stretching your body and more about relaxing or focusing your mind.
Corpse pose is also called Savasana. Lie flat on your back, and rest the palms of your hands facing up. Slowly relax your body, starting with the top of your head, then your neck, your shoulders, your spine, your arms and hands, your thighs, your calves, your ankles, and finally your feet.
Meditative breathing will help you focus on something other than period pain. Corpse pose is the best time to practice your diaphragmatic breathing . Take long, deep, and controlled breaths and avoid quick, shallow breathing.
The Power Of Pycnogenol
Pycnogenol is a plant extract derived from the maritime pine tree found in the southwestern region of France. The extract contains several potent antioxidant compounds. In one study of women between the ages of 18 and 48 years old, those who experienced dysmenorrhea who took a supplement containing 60 milligrams of pycnogenol during their periods had significantly less pain and needed less pain medication compared to when they didn’t take the supplement. They also needed pain medication for fewer days when they took the pycnogenol supplement. Surprisingly, women still needed less pain medication during their periods even after they stopped taking the pycnogenol. However, women who had low levels of menstrual pain weren’t helped by the supplement. Ask your doctor if pycnogenol may help relieve severe pain associated with your period.
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Does Being Sexually Active Make Your Period Worse
Being sexually active can cause changes in your menstruation. Since having sex regularly can affect your hormones, you might actually notice that your period comes more regularly than before. If you have sex during your period, you could notice a heavier flow right after intercourse, since orgasm can make your uterus contract and expel more blood.
When To Talk To Your Provider About Your Menstrual Cramps
Sometimes it can feel like nothing helps your painful period symptoms. You may have tried yoga, special diets, pain medication, massage, and more without success. You may need to be evaluated for a condition like PCOS, endometriosis, or other conditions that cause painful periods.
You should talk to your doctor about period cramps if your pain is interfering with your ability to lead the life you want, if you have a diagnosis for a condition that is not currently controlled with medication or other treatments, or if you want to learn about more options for controlling your period pain.
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How To Get Rid Of Cramps From Your Period
No matter whether they’re debilitating or just annoying, cramps can wreak havoc on your lifestyle and sense of wellbeing. Technically speaking, period cramps are mechanical spasms of the uterine muscle triggered by the release of prostaglandins to help facilitate menstrual flow. In addition to period cramps, female bodies can experience mid-cycle discomfort and cramping during ovulation called mittelschmerz. “This occurs in the middle of a menstrual cycle when an ovary releases an egg, and this type of pain usually only lasts for a few minutes to a few hours,” explains Laurence Orbuch, MD, FACOG. He adds, “Menstrual cramps can persist for hours or days during a period.”
Every female who gets their period experiences cramps differently, based on individual anatomy. “Depending on the position of the uterusanterior, posterior, or mid-positionin your pelvis, can determine where you may experience the most painful menstrual cramping,” says Sherry A. Ross MD, FACOG. “Lower back and abdominal pain are the most common places women experience the discomfort.” The severity of cramping can vary not only from person-to-person but also from month-to-month. Thankfully, there are many remediesfrom herbs to yoga poses and the tried-and-true hot water bottle methodthat can help you feel better when cramps strike.
Ahead, three OBGYNs and a naturopath offer viable solutions on how to get rid of cramps caused by your period.
Meet the Expert
What Helps Cramps In Legs
If you have a cramp, these actions may provide relief:
- Stretch and massage. Stretch the cramped muscle and gently rub it to help it relax. For a calf cramp, put your weight on your cramped leg and bend your knee slightly.
- Apply heat or cold. Use a warm towel or heating pad on tense or tight muscles.
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How To Stop Period Pain
The first few days of your period are likely to be the most painful. This is because the uterus is contracting in order to shed the inner lining and produce the menstrual period.
Exercise, sex, and eating your favorite food stimulate the production of hormones that ease the pain and lift your mood.
But if you really feel terrible, don’t force yourself to do a physical activity. Just try to listen to what your body is telling you.
Shift Back Arm Rotation
The benefit: Ribs and abdominals can feel restricted as a result of bloating or abdominal cramping or pain. This move opens these areas to improve blood flow and help alleviate symptoms.
The move: This is a 4-part move targeting the middle spine and hips. On all 4s, shift your weight back toward the heels, finding a deep hip hinge and engaging the glutes to return to center. Then, lift the right hand toward the ceiling and open your chest toward the right. Return to center and repeat the shift, alternating the arm lift and spinal rotation to the left side.
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When Should I See A Doctor About My Menstrual Cycle
Contact your doctor or your local Planned Parenthood health center if:
Youre worried that you might be pregnant because youve had unprotected sex and missed your period.
Your period is so heavy that you have to change maxi pads or super tampons every hour.
Your period lasts much longer than usual, or longer than 7 days.
You’re light-headed, dizzy, or your pulse is racing.
Youre 16 years old and still havent gotten your period.
You have severe pain before or during your period.
You have unusual bleeding between periods.
You suddenly feel sick or get a fever when using a tampon.
Your periods or PMS keeps you from your normal day-to-day activities.
Your periods stop or suddenly become irregular.
Your period comes more often than every 21 days or less often than every 45 days.
You get very anxious or depressed around the time you get your period.
The Best Yoga Poses For Menstrual Cramps
Experiencing painful menstrual cramps can leave you desperate for a solution. Doing something physical, such as yoga, may feel like the last thing you want to do.
However, some yoga positions are so effective at relieving menstrual pain that once you attempt them, they will probably become a part of your pain management routine!
The providers at Moreland OB-GYN encourage patients to give yoga a try. Exercise, in general, is a great way to ease the pain caused by your periodand yoga is one of the best options!
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How Dealing With Period Cramps Can Help In Other Ways
Of course, being in less pain from cramps, or bloating can majorly impact how your feeling, and might be reason enough to seek relief. But you may also want to consider soothing or stopping cramps for other benefits as well. The Journal of Reproductive Medicinementions that cramps can cause more absenteeism, meaning you miss out on work or school. Period cramps may also have an impact on your personal life.
For many women, cramps come with the territory of having your period. However, by noticing when you get them and how bad they are, you can start to plan around possible short-term and long-term solutions, whether it be with pain relievers, at-home treatment, or using birth control. Many women get period cramps, but luckily, there are options to try so you can go on living your life comfortably, even during that time of the month.
Take Steps To Reduce Stress
“Stress affects your body in many ways, including lowering your threshold for pain,” says Dr. Borchardt.
Reducing stress is easier said than done, of course, but taking steps to do so can help you find relief from period cramps.
In addition to exercise, here are several ways to reduce stress:
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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.