It's 12am and your period just started. You search the nightstand for your midol pm and it's not there. Quick, what do you do? Here are five all natural ways to decrease period pain that you can put to work right now to calm even your worst menstrual cramps.
We've all been there. You wake up late in the night only to realize that your period has arrived — oh, and your uterus is kicking the crap out of your other internal organs. Keep reading to learn what causes period cramps, why you might not want to reach for the aspirin, and what you can do for all natural pain relief.
First off, you are not alone, sister! Did you know that 88% of all women report significant cramping during their cycles each month. According to a UK study, women report that they often miss a day of work per month due to cramps, and even if they go to work, they feel like their work is compromised because of their period pain.
When those cramps kick in, most women go straight for the aspirin or ibuprofen, but it turns out that that might not be the best idea — a recent review of NSAID use for dysmenorrhea (painful periods) concluded that “women using them need to be aware of the substantial risk of adverse effects.” Common adverse effects of NSAIDs include: stomach problems (bleeding, ulcer, upset stomach), high blood pressure, fluid retention and swelling, kidney problems, heart problems, and rashes.
So what causes cramps? Basically, as your body tries to get rid of your old uterine lining, an inflammatory process leads to contractions in the uterine walls. These contractions, what we normally call menstrual or period cramps, help to move the old lining out of the uterus. While there’s nothing wrong with a few mild twinges, if you suffer from intense period pain, it means that this process isn’t going as well as it should.
Don't worry — here are five totally natural ways for you to beat period pain.
Get a Move On…
…and do it on a regular basis. You don’t need to go to a midnight spin class or boot camp to get the benefit either. Research has shown that moderate, regular exercise was effective at significantly reducing cramps associated with menstruation. Even daily walks mixed with some yoga can get your blood pumping enough to reduce your cramping. When you wake up with cramps, try doing a combination of child’s pose, supine twist, and happy baby to relax the low back and abdominal muscles.
Love Thyself (or Someone Else)
This one is a little different for everyone, but lots of women report that orgasm makes a HUGE difference for their period cramps. Orgasm releases a cascade of feel-good chemicals in the body that can reduce pain. It also increases blood flow to your reproductive organs which may also help alleviate pain. Heck you’re already in bed and awake, why not use that time to GET BUSY.
Breathe Through It
Our hectic daily lives stress out every body system… especially your reproductive system. These high levels of stress and stress hormones affect liver function in the second half of your cycle and can contribute to both pms and cramping. Yoga, meditation, exercise and journaling have all been shown to reduce stress and the effects of stress on your body. In the moment, mindfulness exercises have been shown to decrease pain. Focus on your breath, and slowly scan your body from top to bottom. Notice anything that you’re feeling, but don’t focus on the pain. Slowly move your awareness around your body and you’ll notice the pain start to fade away.
The Alpha and The Omega. Ok, Actually Just the Omega.
Fish Oil and other Omega 3’s have been shown to naturally reduce pain by improving blood flow. Omega 3’s can also help reduce the clotting (and some menstrual pain) with their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant rich nutrients. They also decrease prostaglandin production related to menstrual cramping pain.
Magnesium Midnight Snacks
Magnesium. If you have a magnesium deficiency (only 20% of Americans get the RDA of magnesium), studies show supplementing with Magnesium could make help your cramps better. Alcohol, caffeine, sodas, sugar and processed foods can leech magnesium from your body leaving you prone to more cramping. Food is probably the easiest way to naturally supplement your magnesium intake, so reach for more leafy vegetables, beets, beans, shrimp and salmon to increase your daily intake.
Pain during your period can be equivalent to the pain felt during a heart attack — no one should “just have to deal” with that kind of pain. Whether it’s lost days at work, or days where you’re just not your strong, radiant, normal self, it’s time to take control of your life with better periods. Research shows traditional herbal medicine to be especially effective for common menstrual complaints. An industry leading Cochrane Systematic Review of 39 randomized control trials, including more than 3,400 women found that all natural formulas like Brazen’s were almost twice as effective for treating menstrual pain as pharmaceutical treatments like over the counter painkillers or birth control pills, all without significant adverse effects. Formulas like ours outperformed other natural treatments like acupuncture or using heating pads.