Period cramps are often a very unwelcome marker of each month. Some of us get off relatively lightly with the odd twinge or a general ache in our lower abdomen, and some of us suffer heavily, cramping from morning until night for 5 days + and being bound to the sofa, bed or somewhere in between.
The severity of our own period cramps can be dependent on a few different factors, but unfortunately there isn’t much we can do to stop them. However, there are a few things we can do to survive them, & possibly even ease them slightly!
#1 - FOODS & VITAMINS TO HELP EASE PERIOD CRAMPS
Eating a healthy diet may be a way to relieve period pain, as certain vitamins and minerals have been suggested to help reduce cramps.
Refined sugar may be what you’re craving but at all costs try not to cave.
Sugar is inflammatory in nature, and it increases the blood supply in your uterus. This can lead to additional water retention which further leads to abdomen pain. Also, if you are having other PMS symptoms then sugar can aggravate them in some cases,
Avoiding refined sugar and heavily processed foods can also help to keep your digestive system moving happily and reduce any additional bloating or discomfort.
Foods containing magnesium or taking magnesium supplements can be seen to help reduce cramping. It is also a great mineral supplement for a lot of women all month long.
It supports the nervous system and addresses feelings of nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, and irritability. Certainly, useful in our modern lives!
If you just want to boost your magnesium around your period, think leafy greens! Leafy green vegetables are rich in magnesium — think kale, spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli. But if you’re deficient, you can also opt for a magnesium glycinate or magnesium citrate supplement.
More research is still needed, but some evidence shows that vitamin B1, alongside magnesium, may help reduce period cramps. These are two vitamins and minerals that most adults typically get plenty of through a healthy diet.
Foods rich in vitamin B1 and magnesium include:
Nuts and seeds
Legumes & pulses, including beans, lentils and chickpeas
#2 - STAYING HYDRATED REDUCES PERIOD CRAMPS
Grab your water bottle, go easy on the salty foods & avoid alcohol!
That’s right, staying hydrated during your period can actually help ease those twinging cramps.
As our uterine wall is contracting to shed the lining, also known as your period, those cramps that come from that physical contraction can be made much worse if your body is dehydrated. Just like if you were to get a cramp at the gym or mid-run, its much worse if you’re not hydrated.
Decreasing caffeine & alcohol and reducing salt intake can help you stay hydrated, it is even recommended to cut the caffeine & alcohol a few days before you’re due to start menstruating to give your body a hydrated head-start.
Staying hydrated can also help to reduce bloating by keeping your digestive system moving nicely. Additionally, you can get more water into your diet by adding in water-rich fruits and vegetables like cucumber and watermelon.
You can sip on warm or hot water, which can actually help lessen period cramps from the inside. Warm teas & beverages have a relaxing effect on muscles and if you add some ginger, which has a long history as a natural pain-fighter, and a little cinnamon, which is also considered an anti-inflammatory that helps reduce the uterine spasms that cause cramps.
Try to stay away from hot cocoa or other sugary beverages, though, and stick to herbal teas, because excess sugar intake can worsen cramps.
# 3 - APPLYING HEAT HELPS PERIOD CRAMPS
Heat can help to relax the muscles inside your uterus which are contributing to cramping. Applying heat to your abdomen or even lower back can help to relieve that pain.
Your monthly period is reason enough to run yourself a warm, steamy comforting bath, or taking a long window-fogging shower, however the heat can also be very therapeutic to your body, especially those cramps.
The heat brings blood flow to your pelvic area, and this helps the muscles responsible for those cramps to relax, which means less cramping!
So soaking in a warm bath, or using a heating pad or hot water bottle are great ways to ease period pain, or try heating patches if you’re on the go for extra relief.
#4 – HOW EXERCISE CAN HELP EASE YOUR PERIOD CRAMPS
When you're in pain, you may think it's best just to relax and get some rest, which often can be the case depending on your own cramps. But physical activity is a natural pain reliever. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which are chemicals produced by the body that help block the perception of pain. Exercise is also a great way to reduce stress which also happens to affect how you feel pain.
Gentle exercise can be more than enough. You don’t need to thrash out an hour-long session at the gym or run a half marathon, just a nice walk, gentle jog for 20 mins, cycle ride or yoga class can be enough to ease those cramps by stretching the muscles and releasing the much-needed endorphins.
Regular yoga throughout the rest of your cycle can also be found to help with symptoms of PMS and menstrual cramps.
#5 – HOW AN ORGASM CAN HELP EASE PERIOD CRAMPS
You heard me, having an orgasm increases the blood flow to the uterus, which in turn helps to ease those cramps. Orgasms equally release the feel-good pleasure hormones oxytocin and dopamine, making it a double win for easing the cramps and boosting your mood.
Gynaecologists advise that if you are having an orgasm through vaginal sex on your period, make sure you use a condom, as you can still get pregnant on your period & sperm touching the cervix can actually cause inflammatory compounds, which can cause cramping to increase, which would entirely defeat the point!
Solo orgasms are also a great way to help ease those cramps and boost our own feel-good hormones. It’s not quite the same compound of hormones as an orgasm with a partner, but if you can still reach climax on your own, your blood flow will still relax those uterus muscles and ease those niggling cramps.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO TO EASE PERIOD CRAMPS?
In addition to these helpful tips to survive your monthly cramps, you can also try switching to or stocking up on natural, comfortable period underwear. The toxins and chemicals that are associated to be found in commercial tampons can aggravate period cramps. (you can read more info on this in our other articles)
Switching to natural, breathable Rosaseven period underwear keeps you comfortable and fully protected, whilst also reducing your use of tampons, which can equally ease your period cramps.