How to Relieve Menstrual Cramps

· October 11, 2016
If you have never experienced menstrual pains, you are really lucky. They can be incredibly painful and put you in bed for a day or two.

Before you try any remedy, just remember that it’s best to speak to your gynecologist if your cramps get to be unbearable. In some cases, menstrual cramps can be a symptom of a more serious problem.

Premenstrual syndrome and menstrual cramps

Premenstrual syndrome refers to a wide range of symptoms that begin during the second half of the cycle. These symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Cramps
  • Irritability
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Breast sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Food cravings
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Fatigue

These symptoms generally occur before menstruation begins and gradually disappear. In turn, menstrual cramps can happen during the entire period.

Woman touching her forehead to indicate a headache

Although there are many factors that can influence it, hormones are very important in defining if you have more or less menstrual cramps. 

Changes in estrogen and progesterone, hormones produced by the ovaries, control the woman’s cycle. There are even theories that say that these hormones can interact with certain chemicals in the brain to create other symptoms.

When these hormones are balanced, you may not have any discomfort or for this to be minimal. The problem occurs when hormones are not well balanced. This can be due to diet, exercise and your general habits.

The following methods can be a huge help if you have to tolerate very painful or uncomfortable cramps.

Also read:

How to Regulate Hormones through Exercise

Avoid large amounts of polyunsaturated fats

The body needs fats to rebuild cells and produce hormones, but it can only use the kind you give it. When you consume a high concentration of polyunsaturated fats, you will force the body to use them.

The problem is that polyunsaturated fats are unstable and easily oxidized. These oxidized fats cause inflammation and cell mutation.

Woman touching her stomach

When cells are introduced into the reproductive tissue, they can cause endometriosis. This is one of the main causes of menstrual cramps.

The fats you should avoid are:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Canola oil
  • Soy oil
  • Margarine

The recommended fats are:

  • Peanut oil
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Fish with Omega-3

Avoid foods that make you bloated to prevent menstrual cramps

Foods with grains and oils create inflammation in the body and can increase hormonal problems. The way these products affect you depends on your body. However, some studies suggest that people who have a diet free of grains suffer from less menstrual cramps.

It’s best to eat:

Get enough sleep to fight menstrual cramps

A woman sleeping to relieve her menstrual cramps

Sleeping is vital for balancing your hormones. It will help you live longer, achieve your ideal weight and get rid of menstrual cramps.

If you have sleeping problems try to eat lighter dinners, take a half hour to meditate, do a relaxing activity, or drink a warm infusion.

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Include exercise in your life to alleviate menstrual cramps

If you have a hormonal imbalance, light physical exercise can be a huge help. The best exercises are walking and swimming on the days that you have your period. 

Grueling exercise can aggravate the problem. Also, exercise balances other aspects like glucose in the blood, which can also aggravate menstrual cramps.

Drink an infusion for menstrual cramps

A tea or infusion can be enough to soothe menstrual cramps. You can choose the kind that you like the most and accompany it with a little bit of honey. The most popular options are:

  • Ginger tea with cinnamon
  • Anise tea
  • Green tea

Take ibuprofen

Many doctors recommend taking ibuprofen the day before the start of your period. This drug helps relieve stress in the pelvic area and allows you to enjoy the day with less discomfort. 

If your problem is excessive tension in the area, this will prevent cramps during the entire period.

If the discomfort continues in spite of following these recommendations, see your doctor.

Remember that menstrual cramps can alert you to a more serious problem. You should be alert to any changes, especially if they cause increased discomfort.

Daley, A. J. (2008). Exercise and primary dysmenorrhoea: A comprehensive and critical review of the literature. Sports Medicine. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200838080-00004

SMITH, M. D. (2017). Dietary Solutions for Menstrual Cramps. Better Nutrition.