Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All
Yes, if you have painful periods you and your obstetrician-gynecologist should talk about your symptoms and your menstrual cycle. If needed, your ob-gyn may recommend a pelvic exam. A first step in treatment may be medications. If medications do not relieve your pain, treatment should focus on finding the cause of your pain.
An ultrasound exam may be done when pain is not relieved with medications. In some cases, an ob-gyn may recommend a laparoscopy. This is a procedure that lets an ob-gyn view the organs in the pelvis. With laparoscopy, a small incision is made near the belly button. A thin, lighted cameraa laparoscopeis inserted into the abdomen. Laparoscopy often is done with general anesthesia in a surgery center or hospital.
Medications are usually the first step when treating painful periods. Certain pain relievers target prostaglandins. These medications, called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , reduce the prostaglandins made by the body and lessen their effects. This in turn makes menstrual cramps less severe. Most NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can be bought over the counter.
Acupuncture, acupressure, and nerve stimulation therapies may be useful for treating painful periods. Physical therapy that eases trigger points also may help with pain.
Why Womens Athletic Research Is Catching Up The Role Of Hormones
Lets address the big question in the room. Why havent we discovered this sooner? It all comes down to the primary focus of early sports medicine science: male athletes. As a result, many of the results from past nutrition and training research apply perfectly to men, but not so much for women.
Fortunately, as the field has become more diverse, more recent womens sports medicine research has produced a wealth of information on how the female bodies interact with activity and nutrition. And it shouldnt come as much of a surprise that the more we study, the more we discover just how distinct and different a womans needs really are.
Even more importantly, were finding that those needs arent particularly constant from week to week. A womans hormones affected by age, maturity and pregnancy history set the pace for her reproductive system and physical performance.
Were finding that hormone levels can influence a womans susceptibility to certain injuries, how your body processes food and even how flexible your joints are. Of course, as physicians and dietitians, were just starting to scratch the surface plenty more research needs to be done in a lot of areas. However, theres a lot you can do with what we know now to hack your menstrual cycle and make it work for you.
Exercise To Get Rid Of Menstrual Pain
Exercising can help to relieve pain. When you exercise, your body releases endorphin which are known to play a great role in pain management possessing morphine-like effects.
Also, exercising keeps your body active and allows for the proper flow of blood in the body. Getting involved in various exercises such as walking, swimming, running and others can help to keep your body active at all time.
Medical research has found sport women to have less pain or menstrual cramps in relation to other women. Therefore, exercising is a great way to relieve yourself of that pain.
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What Is Cramping Pain
Menstrual pain which is also known by its medical term, dysmenorrhea is the most common cause of gynecological complaints. Studies have estimated that cramps affect anywhere from 45% to 95% of women at some point. Menstrual pain is also a common cause of school and work absenteeism, especially in women who experience severe symptoms.There are different types of menstrual pain, and identifying its cause is an important step. Doctors usually divide menstrual pain into two categories: primary and secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea occurs when there isnt an underlying medical condition that causes your menstrual pain. Secondary dysmenorrhea, on the other hand, is associated with at least one identifiable condition that causes pain.
Primary dysmenorrhea symptoms and characteristics include:
- Pain that occurs near the start of your menstruation.
- Can be associated with other symptoms, such as headaches, back pain, nausea, and diarrhea.
- You dont suffer from any disease that can explain your cramps.
- Secondary dysmenorrhea symptoms include:
- Connection with an underlying medical condition, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids or polyps and pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Your cramps might become more painful over time or change their previous pattern.
- The primary disease can cause other gynecologic symptoms.
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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They Ditch The Salty Foods And Booze
Grab the water cooler, ditch the salt, and lay off the booze: Aunt Flo is coming to town and shes thirsty. Thats right, staying hydrated during your time of the month can actually nip those cramps in the bud. The reason? When the cramps hit hard, its because the uterine muscles are contracting, and just like youre more likely to get a mid-run calf cramp if youre dehydrated, your uterus is more likely to cramp if you havent been hydrating properly, explains Shepard.
Thats why both she and Ghodsi decrease their caffeine and alcohol consumption a few days before their periods start. “I watch what I eat in the days leading up to my period. I cut the alcohol and salt, but up my water intake because the better hydrated I am, the less likely my cramps are to occur,” says Shepard. Similarly, Ghosdi says, “I cut my caffeine and alcohol consumption the few days before I’m supposed to get my period because they’re dehydrating.”
That means if you give into your pickle, fry, and potato chip cravings, or shotgun a beer to ease the lower-abs pain, youre actually dehydrating yourself, which can increase the amount and duration of the cramps, says Shepard. Her recommendation: Stick to healthy eats and non-alcoholic beverages from the day before your period until it ends.
This easy water bottle hack will help you stay properly hydrated every single day:
When Should I Talk To My Ob
Since each womans body is unique, it can be difficult to tell whether the cramps youve grown used to are actually chronic. Use these common symptoms of chronic, severe menstrual cramps as a guideline to decide if its time to talk to an OB-GYN about your cramps.
- Your cramps interfere with your daily life
- The cramps last longer than two days
- No or minimal relief from over-the-counter pain medication
- You have cramps outside of your period
- You notice a change in how your cramps feel over time
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Care Advice For Menstrual Cramps
Go For Massage Therapy
You heard it here:
A nice and smooth massage is a great remedy for relieving stress, anxiety, and period cramps.
Experts have shown that massage therapy is very effective and helpful for reducing menstrual pain and stopping period cramps in women.
Therefore, if you are experiencing period cramps, getting a relaxing massage near your abdominal area of the body can be very helpful for relieving the pain and make you feel better.
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What Are Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual cramps, medically named dysmenorrhea, are cramps that come with a menstrual cycle, caused by muscle contraction and swelling of the uterus. Menstrual cramps can be mild or severe with the most common symptoms being pain or pressure felt in the lower abdomen, lower back, or even your thighs. Some people experiencing severe cramps have symptoms of nausea, loose stool, headaches, and dizziness. If symptoms are severe, itâs a good idea to consult your doctor to understand dysmenorrhea treatment options and to ensure itâs not something more severe.
Menstrual cramps happen as a normal part of the bodyâs monthly cycle. This is going to get technical, so hang in there. But, each month the lining of the uterus builds up in preparation for getting pregnant. If a pregnancy occurs, the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining to be nourished as it develops into a baby. If the egg isnât fertilized, the lining isnât needed. So it breaks down and hormones called prostaglandins are released. Prostaglandins trigger muscle contractions, which is when the muscles contract and squeeze strongly and it can cut off oxygen to your uterus â this right here is what causes the painful menstrual cramps. The muscles are the same ones that push a baby out during childbirth, so they are very strong. Some women may have higher levels of prostaglandins, which means unfortunately they get worse menstrual cramps.
Follow A Healthy Diet High In Fiber And Essential Fats
During menstruation, it is advisable to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Craving for junks during menstruation is a result of hormonal changes of the estrogen and progesterone getting reduced. This is how to stop cramps during periods, a well-balanced diet can help fight against cramps and keep your body healthy. It is advisable to eat fruits and other foods high in fiber and essential fats, and dont forget about boron and calcium during this period. Some of the prescribed foods for consumption are as follows:
- Broccoli: this food has a high fiber content that can help fight against menstrual symptoms. It has various nutrients such as vitamins, potassium and magnesium. Broccoli can help fight against bloating since it is very high in water.
- Dairy products, leafy green vegetables, soy, sesame seeds, almonds are rich in calcium. Calcium can help reduce period muscle cramps.
- Salmon, walnuts, avocado, pumpkin and flaxseeds contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce muscle cramps during menstruation.
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Get A Relaxing Massage
You can massage the lower abdomen at least two times a day. Use essential oils like those of lavender for this task.
When you massage the area, any potential inflammation diminishes. Moreover, the fragrance of these oils instills the sensation of feeling good and fresh in your mind.
The muscles that become sore and stressed due to repeated spasmodic contractions get relieved when massaged.
When you are at home and have plenty of time at hand, then you can reach out for this technique.
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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Take Hormonal Birth Control Pills
You can take oral birth control pills or get the birth control shot to help regulate and shorten your menstrual cycles.
Hormonal contraceptive pills inhibit ovulation and fertilization, which in turn affects the uterus when no shedding of the uterine lining is triggered.
Start taking the hormonal pills one cycle before the period that you dont want to have. To help skin your period, stop taking the last week of the pills. Also, these pills are helpful in reducing cramps and other discomforts associated with periods.
Bear in mind that prolonged intake of hormonal contraceptives can cause headaches and hormonal imbalances in the body, as well as putting you at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Hence, before you start taking birth control pills or other contraceptives, it is best to see your doctor to help you determine which option is best for your lifestyle and medical needs.
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Improving Your Diet May Alleviate Period Cramps
When researchers put 33 women with dysmenorrhea on a low-fat vegetarian diet, they found it eased their cramps, according to research published in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Start by swapping out less healthy fats like the saturated fats found in animal products for healthier ones like unsaturated fats found in olive oil, suggests the American Heart Association. Overall, try to make the fats you eat better quality, such as those found in fish or nuts, the organization suggests. Examples of meals not overly reliant on fats can be found in the healthy eating plate guide from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
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How To Stop Period Cramps At School Fast
Youre sitting in class, youre being a good student, youre going everything you need to do but all of a sudden youre hit with that familiar pain.
Period cramps at school can completely distract you from your studies, so here are some tips on how to stop period cramps at school whether theyve already started, or to try to reduce them before they strike.
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How Do I Know If My Menstrual Cramps Are Normal
Menstrual cramps feel a little different to every woman. They can feel like a constant dull ache, occasional shooting pains or anything in between. Typically, women feel cramps in the lower stomach but they can also affect the groin, thighs and lower back.
Each woman experiences unique menstruation symptoms and theres no true normal. Some women might have cramps during every period. Some might notice that their cramps lessen with age. Others might never experience period cramps. But up to 20 percent of women experience painful cramps, or whats known medically as dysmenorrhea, making it difficult to enjoy their daily activities. Still, many women are afraid to speak to their doctor about their cramps.
Theres no reason to stay quiet about your cramps. Our OB-GYNs are here to listen to your concerns without judgement and help find a way to make your periods as painless as possible.
If youre not sure whether medical treatment is needed to help with your cramps, just ask us! During your next appointment, talk to your doctor about:
- The level of pain cramps cause you
- How long your cramps last
- The average length of your cycle
- How much you bleed during your period
- Other things you may have noticed, like spotting or pain outside your period
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4 Yoga Poses to Relieve Cramps
Yoga is a gentle exercise that releases endorphins and can help prevent or reduce menstrual symptoms.
One study compared the effects of aerobic exercise and yoga on PMS symptoms. The researchers found that both yoga and aerobic exercise significantly reduced PMS symptoms and pain intensity. However, yoga was more effective than aerobic exercise at reducing symptoms. Helpful yoga poses for PMS may include:
Treatment Of Period Pain
There is a range of medicines you can take to help with period pain.
Pain relief medication: Anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen, mefanamic acid or naproxen stop the body from producing prostaglandins. They are available over the counter from a pharmacy but they may not be suitable for everyone so speak to your pharmacist for advice first. You can also take paracetamol for mild cramps. Stronger pain killers containing codeine are only available with a prescription from a doctor.
Other treatments: Some women find that a heat pack, gentle exercise, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or acupuncture helps control the pain.
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