Menstrual cramps can be unpleasant and painful, but they do occur for a reason. When a woman is having her period, the uterus contracts, which means it squeezes or cramps up. That causes the lining of the uterus to come off and leave the body. The cramping of the uterus helps the period blood to flow out of the vagina.
Period cramps usually feel like throbbing pain in the lower belly and are usually worse in the first few days of the cycle. However, for most people, these cramps become less painful with increase in age.
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Menstrual cramps can be painful and uncomfortable, but there are many ways to treat them. Below are several effective tactics that can help to ease menstrual cramps.
1. Eat Healthier Foods
Many people usually crave fatty, salty and sugary foods during their menses, but such foods are not good. On the other hand, eating healthier foods can help to relieve menstrual discomfort. Anti-inflammatory foods such as blueberries, cherries, tomatoes, bell peppers and squash are excellent choices. Coldwater fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, dark leafy vegetables and almonds are also superb options.
2. Drink More Water
Drinking more water when one is having their period can help to ease bloating, which usually makes the symptoms worse. It helps to drink 6-8 glasses of water each day. Some females experience diarrhea or vomiting together with menstrual cramps. In such a case it’s essential to replace lost fluids by consuming plenty of water.
3. Avoid Caffeine
Eliminating caffeine can help to ease menstrual cramps. Caffeine is available in different forms such a coffee, tea, energy drinks and chocolate. Women who take caffeine on a daily basis might need to taper down gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms. A good substitute for caffeine is smoothies filled with antioxidant-rich berries, veggies and protein powder
4. Over-the-Counter Medicines
For severe menstrual cramps, over-the-counter medication such as aspirin, naproxen sodium and ibuprofen can decrease menstrual pain. However, it is essential to be careful with NSAIDS (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for those who have certain health problems. Such medicines can trigger gastrointestinal ulcers or worsen bleeding conditions.
5. Reach for Heat
Placing a heating pad or a hot water bottle on the lower belly or back works wonders for easing menstrual cramps. Such items are available at drugstores or online shops. The continuous application of heat might be as effective as ibuprofen for the relief of period pain. Heat causes the muscles to relax.
Getting on the move is an effective way of relieving menstrual cramps. Physical exercise releases endorphins, which are brain chemicals that promote good health. Whether one enjoys walking, jogging, swimming or running, it is safe to take part in such activities during menses. For those who experience fatigue, engaging in gentler forms of exercise like yoga and tai chi might be easier.
Massaging the abdomen for at least five minutes per day might help to ease menstrual discomfort. Massage encourages flow of blood. Massaging creams containing essential oils such as clary sage, marjoram or lavender have additional advantages for the body.
8. Take a Warm Bath
A warm bath might be just the thing one needs to soothe painful cramps. Adding some luxurious bubble baths and reading a favorite book can help to melt the tension away. For those who do not like baths, a warm shower can lead to similar advantages and decrease pelvic pain.
If the tactics mentioned above do not help to relieve menstrual cramps, it might be time to consult a doctor.