Severe Menstrual Cramps And What Causes Them
Several health conditions may be to blame for your severe period cramps. Because it is impossible to know for sure what is causing them without a full medical evaluation, we suggest discussing this issue with a medical professional as soon as possible.
Once your doctor has gathered some initial information about your painful menstrual cramps, overall menstrual cycle, and other related symptoms, they will perform a physical examination. This may include a pelvic exam. If they suspect you have an underlying condition like uterine fibroids, they will probably order medical imaging such as ultrasound or MRI to make a formal diagnosis. Once properly diagnosed, you can explore your treatment options.
How To Get Rid Of Period Cramps Fast: 11 At
More than 84% of people who get periods report some kind of menstrual pain.
Almost half experience pain during every monthly cycle, while about two in five have occasional period pain. Either way, period cramps and pain can disrupt everyday life.
Luckily, home remedies may help. In this article, first Ill explain what period cramps are and what causes them. Then Ill discuss 11 common ways to alleviate period pain, plus when to see a medical provider for care.
What Is Menstrual Pain
Menstrual pain or cramps are pains in your lower abdomen that happen when your menstrual period begins . This pain may continue for 2 to 3 days. Cramps may be throbbing or aching, and they can be dull or sharp. Symptoms can range from a mild discomfort to serious pain that interferes with your normal activities.
Menstrual cramps are the leading cause of absenteeism in women younger than 30. Although over half of people who have menstrual periods feel some discomfort, 10% are temporarily disabled by symptoms.
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Birth Control Pills May Lessen Painful Cramping Too
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.
What Drinks Help Period Pains
Drinking chamomile, fennel or ginger tea is an easy, natural way to relieve menstrual cramps. Plus, herbal teas can have other benefits like stress relief and helping with insomnia.
What food helps period cramps?
Walnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds are rich in manganese, which eases cramps. Olive oil and broccoli contain vitamin E. Chicken, fish, and leafy green vegetables contain iron, which is lost during menstruation. Flaxseed contains omega-3s with antioxidant properties, which reduce swelling and inflammation.
Do period pains get worse with age?
These menstrual cramps often worsen with age and can last for the entire duration of your period. Women who experience secondary dysmenorrhea can usually find pain relief with help from a doctor.
Do orgasms help cramps?
How should you sleep on your period?
Sleep in the fetal position: If youre normally a back or stomach sleeper, try rolling to your side and tucking in your arms and legs. This position takes pressure off your abdominal muscles and is the best sleeping position to relieve tension that can make cramping worse.
What to do when you have stomach pain during your period?
Papaya contains nutrients like carotene, iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C that help relax the uterine walls and ease muscle contractions. Eat papaya just before and during your menstrual period. Another useful natural herb for Stomach pain relief during the period.
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When Do People Usually Get Cramps
It is no secret that pain symptoms can appear at specific times in a womans cycle.
- Perimenstrual cramps. Pain starts before your period and lasts during menstruation. It can be felt in the lower back and thighs.
- Mid-cycle/ovulation pain. This pain can also occur in the middle of your cycle. Ovulation pain is usually felt in the lower abdomen. It may last from a few hours to even a couple of days.
Period Pain Relief Through Movement And Exercise
Get moving! Whether its a walk around the block, an HIIT workout, or pilates, exercise can help. Exercise increases blood circulation, which can reduce cramps. Exercise is also known for lowering stress and wouldnt you have it your stress levels are directly related to the severity of your cramps.
Not feeling up for it? Even a simple stretch can help alleviate your period pain: Here are two simple moves you can try to help tackle period pain:
If you want help feeling more comfortable while exercising during your period, give our moisture-wicking period panties a try!
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What Helps A Girl With Period Pains
- Put a heating pad or a hot water bottle on your belly, or take a warm bath. Heat improves blood flow and may ease the pain.
- Lie down and put a pillow under your knees, or lie on your side and bring your knees up to your chest.
- Use pads instead of tampons.
- Get regular exercise.
What can make cramps worse?
7 foods that can make your period cramps worse
- 01/8Avoid these foods during your period. The monthly menstrual cycle is often accompanied by a lot of symptoms like fatigue, bloating, mood swings and cramps.
What foods do you eat when you have period cramps?
Period cramps can be awful and often come with unpleasant symptoms like nausea or bloating. Most people reach for pain relievers or a heating pad when period cramps hit, but the foods you eat can also play a role in how bad your cramps feel. Many foods can help ease cramps, while others can actually make them worse.
What kind of fish is good for menstrual cramps?
The fatty fish can help alleviate cramps and breast tenderness. Salmon and other cold-water fish are rich in fatty acids known as omega-3s. Omega-3s help to reduce inflammation, which makes them good for general pain relief including the pain of menstrual cramps, according to one small trial.
When To Contact A Doctor
A person may wish to speak with a doctor if home remedies do not help reduce cramps or if they are experiencing very severe cramping.
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 contacting a doctor include:
- 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.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about home remedies for menstrual cramps.
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Theyre Paired With Heavy Abnormal Bleeding
If your cramping is associated with heavy, abnormal bleeding, that can also be a sign that something more serious is going on. If youre soaking through more than a pad an hour over a two-hour time period, thats abnormal bleeding, warns Dr. Levine. Thats worrisome. Thats not regular period cramps or regular period bleeding.
How Your Menstrual Cycle Can Impact Exercise And Athletic Training
There are two main phases of the menstrual cycle: the follicular phase and the luteal phase.
What is the follicular phase? The follicular phase happens during the first half of your cycle. What is the luteal phase? The luteal phase is the second half of your cycle. These two halves feature distinctly different hormone levels, with lower levels during the follicular phase and higher levels during the luteal phase.
Researchers and physicians are discovering that these hormone levels have a big impact on muscle development and how an athletes body uses energy.
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Start By Swapping Out Unhealthy Snacks Or Meals For A Healthier Option
No one expects you to become a healthy eating machine overnight. The good news is that even making small steps can put you on the path to better health. Here are some examples to help you get started:
- Try oatmeal for breakfast and skip donuts or pastries. This swap increases the amount of heart-healthy whole grains while also eliminating saturated and trans fats.
- Instead of eating hot dogs or deli meat for lunch, make a trip to the salad bar and load up your plate with nutritious veggies. And to get heart-healthy fats, opt for an oil-based vinaigrette instead of creamier dressings.
- Instead of a steak, choose an oily fish like salmon for a boost in healthy fats from omega-3 fatty acids while also reducing saturated fats.
- Eat unsalted nuts instead of chips, fries or buttered popcorn to fill up with good fats and protein while reducing salt and bad fats.
- Drink water and other calorie-free beverages to cut down on calories.
Engage In Gentle Exercise
Although exercise might be the last thing many people feel like doing when they have cramps, it may provide pain relief.
Strenuous exercise might not be beneficial if a person is in pain, but gentle stretching, going for a walk, or doing yoga may help. Exercise also releases endorphins, which are natures natural pain relievers.
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Living With Period Pain
To help you manage period pain in the longer term, your doctor might prescribe the combined oral contraceptive pill or another hormonal form of contraception such as a vaginal ring, implant or a hormone-releasing intra-uterine device . These reduce the amount of prostaglandins released during your period and make your periods lighter.
You could also consider taking nutritional supplements such as magnesium, vitamin B1 , vitamin E, pyridoxine or fish oil.
Quitting smoking and reducing the amount of alcohol you drink may reduce period pain.
It is a good idea to keep a diary of your pain, bleeding and any other symptoms to show your doctor. This will help them diagnose whether there is an underlying medical cause for your period pain.
How Are Severe Menstrual Cramps Diagnosed
If you have severe menstrual cramps, a visit to your doctor is the only way to determine the exact cause of your pain. During your visit, your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms. If we need additional information to confirm a diagnosis, a pelvic exam or ultrasound might be needed. These tests will help pinpoint the exact cause of your pain so your doctor can recommend the best treatment options for you.
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Carry Personal Heating Pads
There are several heating pads that can be attached to the abdominal region and activated with a slight push.
These are the best heating pads for menstrual cramps you can try.Pick anyone that suits you.
They are so sleek that they are not detectable over the clothes. You can attach it to the abdomen or keep it in under pockets to soothe the cramps.
Heating the region relaxes the muscles and makes menstrual flow a simpler affair.
Ensure that the region does not get over heated as it might burn the skin or cause redness.
Acupuncture May Help By Relaxing The Nervous System
Acupuncture can help relieve cramps, says Jeannie Bianchi, a licensed acupuncturist in San Francisco. This ancient Asian healing method is thought to relax the nervous system, allow more blood to flow to internal organs, and quell inflammation, Bianchi says.
In a review published in April 2016 in the CochraneDatabase of Systematic Reviews experts looked at 42 studies that observed the effects of acupuncture on period cramps. Each compared acupuncture with no treatment, conventional treatment , or a sham acupuncture procedure. Many of the studies found that the acupuncture group had less period pain and no side effects. The researchers emphasize, however, that the quality of all of the studies was poor.
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Start Hormonal Birth Control
Birth control can stop period pain if cramps are caused by a hormone imbalance. Balancing your levels of estrogen and progesterone helps thin the uterine lining so it sheds more easily. Hormonal birth control also regulates the length and frequency of your period. Some forms of birth control can completely alleviate period cramps by stopping your period altogether. Talk to your OB-GYN about birth control options, including the pill, birth control shot or hormonal IUD. Then, youll be able to choose the type of birth control that works best for you.
Your Thyroid Is Out Of Whack
Your thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. It makes thyroid hormone, which provides the spark for bodily functions like digestion, generation of body heat, detoxification and ovulation. Every single cell in your body needs thyroid hormone.
The most common thyroid problem is when the gland is underactive, which is called hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism interferes with ovulation, which means youll be making less progesterone. And remember that low progesterone promotes inflammation.
Heavy menstrual bleeding can be a symptom of an underactive thyroid. Unfortunately many women with hypothyroidism never get diagnosed because the standard screening test doesnt show the whole picture. I always recommend a complete thyroid panel that includes TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies.
Getting the right thyroid tests can be tricky. Ive had many patients tell me that their conventional doctors straight-up refuse to order a full thyroid panel for them. Its really frustrating, but thankfully you can get a thyroid panel for yourself online.
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Get Help Relieving Period Cramps
If youve tried all the menstrual cramp treatments on this list and still have painful periods, or you want to know up front which options will work best for you, talk to your primary care doctor or OB-GYN.
At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, our womens health doctors can prescribe stronger treatments for menstrual cramps that can go a long way to improve your quality of life during that time of the month. A little help from a doctor might be the best way to stop dreading your periods.
Curl Up With A Heating Pad To Ease Period Cramps
The uterus is a muscle, so anything that helps relax muscles, like applying heat, can be beneficial, Thielen says.
Indeed, research published in Evidence-Based Nursing found that topically applied heat was just as effective as ibuprofen for period cramps. Over the two study days, the women used heat alone, heat plus ibuprofen, ibuprofen alone, or a placebo. The best results were in the heat plus ibuprofen group adding heat led to faster improvements.
A review published in March 2014 in The Journal of Physiotherapy also found that heat significantly lessened a womans period pain.
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You Dont Have To Suffer
Muscle cramps during the menstrual cycle are generally mild with no debilitating effects. That said, there are many women who unfortunately suffer with severe pain and muscle tension.
The range of cramping discomfort often depends on the timing of puberty, genetics, and lifestyle choices. You could stop cramps fast, and possibly even prevent them from developing before your period, with natural home remedies. By changing your diet, routine, and incorporating exercises that target the stomach muscles, you may be able to stop stressing about your next period and enjoy daily activities every day of the month.
Doheny, K., â10 Ways To Relieve Period Crampsâ, Everyday Health , last accessed June 9, 2017.Ipatenco, S., âHow To Get Rid Of Menstrual Cramps Fast,â Live Strong, August 16, 2013 , last accessed June 9, 2017.â13 Ways To Get Rid Of Your Period Cramps,â Web MD , last accessed June 9, 2017.âHome Remedies to Relieve Menstrual Pain,â Healthline, Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT on February 3, 2017 , last accessed June 9, 2017.
Try Some Yoga Poses To Ease Menstrual Pain
Whether it’s the stretching of your muscles or the relaxing effect of the poses, a regular yoga practice can indeed help your cramps.
When 20 undergraduate students did an hour-long yoga program once a week for three months, they had less menstrual cramping and period distress than 20 women who didnt, according to researchers for a study published in September 2016 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
The Journal of Physiotherapy review that sanctioned heating pads also found benefits for yoga.
You can practice during your period or between them, but some instructors advise women against doing inverted poses in the midst of menstruation, so as not interfere with your natural flow.
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Symptoms Of Menstrual Pain
Besides cramps in the lower abdomen, you may also have some of these symptoms with menstrual cramps:
- Current medications
- What things seem to improve or worsen the pain
The doctor will perform a pelvic exam to check for any problems. If there are concerns about a possible infection, cervical cultures and a blood test will confirm the diagnosis. You might get these tests, too:
- The doctor may order a pregnancy test if your periods are irregular or you are not using birth control regularly.
- An ultrasound exam is necessary if the doctor discovers any abnormal masses during the pelvic exam or there is a new onset of menstrual pain.
- A doctor may recommend a laparoscopy, which is a minor surgical procedure allowing the doctor to look directly into the pelvic cavity with a fiber-optic scope. This is an outpatient procedure using very small incisions.
- A hysteroscopy is another possible procedure. By inserting a hysteroscope through the , the doctor can see inside the cervix and the inside of the uterus without incisions. This can be done in a doctor’s office or a hospital.