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12 Home Remedies to Relieve Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual Cramps Home Remedies

Menstrual Cramps Home Remedies - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

30-Second-Summary
  • Menstruation cramps hit menstruating women before and during the period.
  • In medical terms, menstrual pain is called "dysmenorrhea."
  • Over 84% of women experience icky, annoying menstrual cramps.
  • Around 25% of women experience severe period pain.
  • Menstrual cramps are felt around the lower back, abdomen, and thigh and may result from uterine contractions.
  • Menstrual cramp causes include overproduction of prostaglandins, strong uterine contractions, endometriosis, or uterine defects.
  • Many women take NSAIDs to reduce period cramps.
  • Menstrual cramps home remedies may provide relief from period cramps.
  • Diet, exercise, and sex may alleviate menstrual cramps.
  • Gynecologists suggest taking birth control pills for pain relief.
  • Normal period cramps may improve with age.

Introduction

Women experience nagging menstrual pain around the abdomen and pelvic regions during the menstrual period. Over 84% of women are affected by menstrual cramps, while 25% complain of severe menstrual cramps.

Obesity, stress, smoking, diet, and lack of physical activities can make the cramps worse. But the important question is how to reduce menstrual pain instantly?

Some menstrual cramps home remedies may help you deal with the killer cramps. Home remedies might not completely alleviate the discomfort but might make it manageable.

Additionally, lifestyle changes can help. Before sharing those hacks, we will find out what makes menstrual cramps painful.

Why Are Period Cramps Painful?

Menstrual cramps are painful because the discomfort involves the contraction of the uterus. Normally after ovulation, if pregnancy doesn’t occur, the endometrium produces hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins.

Prostaglandins prompt the uterine muscle to shrink and throw out the uterine lining in blood clot form.

Period pain occurs due to this muscle contraction and passing of clots through the narrow passage of the cervical canal.

Additionally, some women may have cervical canals that are unusually narrow and feel intense pain.

In some cases, emotional stress can make the pain intense. If severe pain bothers you for a long time, it is wise to check if you have endometriosis, fibroid, or PID conditions.

What Are the Causes of Menstrual Cramps?

Causes of Menstrual Cramps
Women experience mild to severe menstrual pain during periods. Normal menstrual cramps are called primary dysmenorrhea, and severe and abnormal cramps are secondary dysmenorrhea.

The pain is usually felt in the lower abdomen and pelvic area and may spread to the thighs. Menstrual cramps are a result of prostaglandin overproduction.

If pregnancy does not occur after ovulation, estrogen and progesterone levels in women dwindle.

The endometrium tissues get swollen and ready to be shed. Prostaglandins are the chemical compounds discharged from the uterine lining.

During menstruation, the womb gets rid of unwanted tissue and blood by shrinking and relaxing in a particular way.

When bloody tissues clot and move through the cervix, it causes an intense cramping sensation.

Furthermore, menstrual cramps could be a result of a narrow cervical canal or a retroverted uterus.

While mild pain, dizziness, bloating, and headache are part of primary dysmenorrhea, some women can have severe discomfort.

If your menstrual cramps stay even after your period ends, heavy bleeding, severe pelvic pain, pain during sex, and spotting between cycles, you may consult your doctor.

Secondary dysmenorrhea can result from conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Can You Heal Menstrual Cramps with Home Remedies?

Menstrual cramp causes discomfort and may affect your daily activities. It may lead to less productivity. Severe pain and heavy bleeding may even result in a medical emergency.

There are ways you can reduce the discomfort. You may try relieving menstrual cramps with home remedies for pain relief. From performing yoga to switching to a healthy diet, there are plenty of things you can do. Women follow different pain-relief strategies to deal with period cramps.

Some women turn to herbal remedies, and others find comfort in heat treatments. Gynecologists suggest mild exercise and diet adjustment and may also recommend NSAIDs. Abdominal massage with essential oils may help reduce menstrual discomfort.

Here we share 12 ways you can find menstrual cramps relief at home.

Menstrual cramps relief tips

1. Drink Herbal Tea

Herbal tea ranks high among the menstrual cramps home remedies preferred by women for relief. Herbal teas such as ginger, chamomile, cinnamon, green, oolong are popular options for menstrual pain relief.

Of these, green tea and oolong tea are particularly beneficial, according to one study. Researchers have found that green tea has a high concentration of catechins that inhibit COX-2 and minimize prostaglandin production.

Chamomile tea also helps reduce menstrual cramps as it has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antispasmodic properties. Another study[1] confirms the efficacy of chamomile tea in relieving menstrual pains and PMS symptoms.

2. Diet

For many women, monthly periods are a dreadful phase accompanied by annoying, painful cramps, continuous lower body aches, dizziness, or headache.

Often, bloating and mood swings are part of the package. Taking care of your diet may help you handle the period cramps better.

A study[2] explains that salty snacks, sugar, desserts, and tea and coffee increase menstrual cramps in young women.

On the other hand, eating foods rich in calcium, such as yogurt, milk, and cheese, or dark, leafy greens, such as dill, if you are lactose sensitive, may help with menstrual cramps relief.

  • Foods rich in magnesium are also beneficial for managing menstrual and PMS discomforts. Kale, avocados, artichokes, pumpkin seeds, and spinach are magnesium-rich foods.

    Certain nuts such as walnuts, cashews, and almonds also supply an adequate amount of magnesium that may help you cope better with icky menstrual cramps.

  • Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids may keep the prostaglandin levels in control. Therefore, a diet of sardines, mackerel, salmon, and anchovies may help reduce menstrual cramps.

    This study[3] supports fish oil’s efficacy in alleviating pain intensity in primary dysmenorrhea.

3. Turmeric, Ginger, and Cinnamon

Turmeric is one of the proven menstrual cramps home remedies that can soothe your period cramps fast.

Curcumin, an active compound present in turmeric, is said to play a role in reducing PMS symptoms and period cramps.

Active ingredients present in curcumin have anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin also works as an antioxidant and analgesic.

This study[4] is an indication that curcumin attenuates the severity of uncomfortable PMS and period cramps. Ginger, too, has been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for relieving primary dysmenorrhea symptoms.

Cinnamon is another useful ingredient loaded with polyphenols and offers impressive health benefits. According to a review[5], cinnamon exhibits an antispasmodic effect due to its main component, cinnamaldehyde, and significantly reduces pain and menstrual bleeding.

4. Take Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an important role in many physiological processes. Biological actions of vitamin D are vital in female reproductive physiology.

Prostaglandins are considered the main culprits of menstrual cramp causes. Vitamin D inhibits COX-2 expression and controls prostaglandin action. It also reduces cytokine production that causes inflammation.

Many studies prove that supplementation of vitamin D can significantly improve dysmenorrhea and PMS symptoms. Staying in the sun is one of the ways to increase vitamin D in the body.

Additionally, fatty fish and seafood such as tuna, sardines, mackerel, and shrimp can provide the body with vitamin D. Tofu and mushrooms are vitamin-D fortified foods you can consider in your diet.

Finally, ask your physician to recommend a vitamin D supplement to ensure you have adequate levels.

Taking a hot bath

5. Consider Heat Therapy

Heat therapy is one of the popular menstrual cramps home remedies that may give you relief from period pains. Taking a hot bath or shower increases blood flow to the pelvic area and relaxes pelvic muscles.

Muscle relaxation reduces muscle spasms and gives relief from pain. However, you can’t take a bath for the whole day, so consider using heat wrap or hot water bags or bottles.

Alternatively, you can consider wearing self-heating pads that you stick on your clothes and enjoy the heated comfort for long hours.

6. Drink Adequate Water

Staying hydrated can help ease menstruation discomfort. Just by upping your water intake, you can get some relief from nagging menstrual cramps.

Though drinking plain water won’t diminish your cramps immediately, it can increase blood circulation and reduce the pain.

When you deprive your body of the required amount of water, it releases vasopressin. Vasopressin is a hormone that impacts uterine contractions that cause period cramps.

Vasopressin also shrinks the blood vessels and restricts blood flow to the uterus, leading to painful muscle tension. Also, drinking water may reduce bloating.

7. Try Acupuncture and Acupressure

Both acupuncture and acupressure are traditional Chinese practices for pain relief. In acupuncture, tiny needles are used in specific body points.

Acupuncture is of different types: manual, warm acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, and auricular acupuncture.

As this study informs, a randomized controlled trial has shown the efficacy of pain reduction using electro-acupuncture.

It also indicates that manual and warm acupuncture performed better than NSAIDs in providing menstrual cramps relief.

Auricular acupressure is a noninvasive complementary pain relief therapy that alleviates menstrual pain and distress as per this study[6].

Massage Essential Oils

8. Massage Essential Oils

Some essential oils may give you menstrual cramps relief. Concentrated plant extracts used in massage therapy offer significant pain reduction.

For the best result, you may consider using a blend of essential oils. As this double-blind, randomized study indicates, aromatherapy with a 2:1:1 blend of clary sage, lavender, and marjoram has effectively decreased the intensity of menstrual cramps.

In another study, 10 minutes of abdominal massage for seven days with a blend of cinnamon, clove, rose, and lavender oils in a 1.5:1.5:1:1 ratio mixed with sweet almond oil led to pain reduction.

9. Ditch Caffeine

Reducing soda and caffeine intake before and during the period may offer menstrual cramps relief.

Caffeine shrinks blood vessels and makes cramps more intense by constricting the uterus. Caffeine can also increase irritability and make you feel jittery.

So if you need an alternative pick-me-up as you start your day or an afternoon energizer before and during the period, opt for healthier options such as smoothies and fruit juice.

Herbal teas like ginger and lemon have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.

10. Exercise

Many women ask how to reduce menstrual pain instantly, and gynecology experts suggest exercise as one of the ways. Exercise boosts endorphins creating a happy, positive mood.

It also metabolizes prostaglandins that alleviate the cramps. You need not join a HIIT session. Gentle exercises, such as swimming, walking, and cycling, would be good. Alternatively, you may consider doing yoga.

Yoga can be an extremely beneficial pain management strategy for menstrual cramps relief.

Apart from muscle relaxation, yoga also helps stabilize mood swings women face during menstruation.

Try these three yoga positions to help period cramps:

Bhujangasana or the Cobra Stretch

The cobra pose promotes blood circulation in the body and strengthens the upper and middle back. It also manage stress and fatigue.

  • To start, lie on your stomach.
  • Rest your forehead on the ground.
  • Keep both legs close together.
  • Your palms should touch the floor, and elbows placed parallel to the torso.
  • Taking a deep breath, lift your head, chest, and abdomen.
  • Your navel should touch the floor.
  • Keep breathing.
  • Exhale and slowly return to your starting position.
  • Relax.

Dhanurashana or the Bow Pose

The bow pose energizes the back and abdominal muscles. Ideal for alleviating menstrual pain, the bow pose requires to be performed 4-5 hours after having the main meal.

  • To start, lie on your stomach.
  • Keep the feet apart.
  • Folding your knees, try to hold your ankles by taking your hands backward.
  • Lift your chest and take a deep breath.
  • Look straight.
  • Stabilize the pose by making your body look like a bow.
  • Take long, deep breaths.
  • Return to the starting position breathing out.
  • Relax.

Matsyasana or the Fish Pose

  • Start with lying down on your back.
  • Place your feet together and keep your hands alongside the body.
  • Place the hands beneath the hips and draw your elbows close to each other.
  • Take a breath and lift your head.
  • Put the chest up.
  • Elevating the chest, place your head backward and try to touch the top of your head to the floor.
  • Count to 20.
  • Keep your breathing gentle.
  • Lift your head, lower the chest, and return to the starting position.
  • Do the corpse pose or Savasana.
  • Relax.

11. Pain Medications

Many women turn to OTC NSAIDs for period pain relief. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are popular options for menstrual cramps relief. These medications reduce the production of prostaglandins and soothe inflammation. NSAIDs also check excessive bleeding.

Products specifically manufactured for menstrual cramps relief combine NSAIDs and antiprostaglandins that effectively reduce menstrual discomforts. Often, doctors recommend taking OCPs or patches that stop ovulation and help lessen pain.

Transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TENS) is also an effective way on how to reduce menstrual pain instantly.

12. Rest

When menstrual cramps hit, you need rest. During menstruation, your progesterone level drops. You may find it difficult to relax.

However, by staying well-rested, you allow your body to relax the muscles, lessen the pain, and improve blood flow to the troubled regions.

Sleeping in the fetal position is often suggested as it helps relax the muscles around the abdominal area. Keep a pillow under your knees to ensure good blood flow and muscle relaxation if you lie on your back.

Staying well-rested

How to Tell if Your Period Cramping Is Normal

Though menstrual cramps are painful and annoying, primary dysmenorrhea is considered normal, and most women experience it during the period.

The pain is a result of the overproduction of prostaglandins and uterine shrinking. However, some women suffer excessive bleeding, severe pelvic pain, prolonged cramps, nausea, and fatigue.

Severe cramps may be a sign of endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and pelvic inflammatory disease, to name a few.

If your cramps get worse and menstrual cramps home remedies or NSAIDs fail to give you relief, you may consider consulting a doctor. If you can manage the period cramps with NSAIDs or home care remedies, you need not worry.

Conclusion

Menstrual cramps may be dreadful to women, and they also bring along unpleasant side effects such as nausea, fatigue, dizziness, backaches, etc. However, they are usually manageable with different home remedies. Women usually know what works for them.

You may find relief from nagging pain by avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco and switching to a healthy eating. A walk or orgasmic sex may give you relief as well.

Taking over-the-counter medications before the pain starts is also a good move. The best thing about primary dysmenorrhea is that they improve as you age.

However, if you notice your cramps staying longer than they would, you should talk to your doctor.

Often, women may suffer from secondary menstrual cramps that will require medical attention. You may also need tests such as a pelvic exam, ultrasound, or laparoscopy.

The idea is to get checked for any complications. Finally, don’t let menstrual cramps affect the quality of your life.

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