Many women around the world dread their monthly cycle. Mainly because this means that close to every 28 days, a menstruating woman may experience severe cramping, bloating, and abdominal pain. The National Institutes of Health reports that approximately 84 percent of women experience menstrual pain. Menstrual cramps occur as the uterus contracts to shed the endometrial lining. Unfortunately, these contractions can cause all sorts of pain rooted in the abdomen, pelvis, low back, thighs and groin. Here we look into the causes of period pain and some natural remedies to stop period pain or provide significant relief.
Causes of Painful Periods
Painful periods can be caused by several different medical conditions such as-
- Endometriosis – Endometriosis occurs when the uterine lining grows on the outside of the uterus. During menstruation, the body tries to shed the uterine lining. Unfortunately, the tissue growing outside the uterus has nowhere to go, resulting in painful abdominal cramping and heavy bleeding.
- Ovarian Cysts – Cysts that grow on the ovaries can cause painful periods.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease – Pelvic inflammatory disease is typically a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that can cause painful menstrual cramps.
- PMS – Premenstrual syndrome occurs when estrogen levels and progesterone levels decline at the beginning of a woman’s cycle eliciting cramping, irritability, and fatigue.
- PMDD – Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a more severe type of PMS. This condition often affects women who are dealing with high amounts of stress or depression.
- Uterine Fibroids – These benign growths can develop in the lining of the uterine. Fibroids can cause painful cramping along with heavy periods.
Natural Remedies for Period Pain
Dealing with painful periods every month can be frustrating and exhausting. Below are some natural remedies that can reduce stop or atleast reduce period pain.
Reduce Your Stress Levels – Stress causes muscles to tense up, which can exacerbate menstrual pain. Stress relief practices, including guided imagery, yoga, and deep breathing exercises, along with progressive muscle relaxation, can help reduce pain levels along with bloating and inflammation. Yoga reduces your stress levels, strengthens your pelvic muscles, and reduces inflammation. Some of the best yoga poses for period pain relief include the cobra pose, the cat pose, and the fish pose. These poses help to open up the pelvis and abdomen to relieve tension and stress.
Heat Therapy – Many women find that applying moist heat via a heating pad can help relieve their menstrual pain. In fact, one study showed that applying heat (104 degrees Fahrenheit) to the abdominal area and back is as effective as ibuprofen at relieving menstrual cramping and pain. If you do not have a heating pad, try a hot water bottle, a heated towel in the dryer, or a warm bath.
Herbal Remedies – Numerous herbs can help relieve your period pain. For example, chamomile tea relieves muscle spasms. Cinnamon reduces pain, bleeding, and nausea associated with menstruation. Ginger has been shown to work well at reducing pain. Finally, fennel has a compound that provides anti-spasmodic effects, which can help relieve menstrual cramps.
Exercise – Exercise can help relieve menstrual cramping by improving digestion and decreasing prostaglandins. At the beginning of menstruation, the cells in the uterine lining begin to break down and release inflammatory compounds called prostaglandins. These inflammatory chemicals cause muscles to cramp and blood vessels to constrict. As you exercise, your body begins to release endorphins, which can help relieve your pain. It is advisable to choose light workouts like walking or light stretching.
Increase Your Water Consumption – Bloating is a common symptom experienced during menstruation. When you are bloated, your menstrual cramps are typically worse. Drinking at least eight full glasses of purified water can reduce bloating and relieve abdominal pain. Bloating can be caused by dehydration as well as toxic exposure. Drinking plenty of water not only increases hydration but also helps toxins from your body. If possible, drink hot water as it will help to relax your muscles, increase your blood flow, and reduce uterine contractions. All of these may help reduce or relieve your menstrual cramps.
Magnesium – Magnesium can help normalize your hormone levels, particularly progesterone. Progesterone works by relaxing your uterine muscles, which will decrease the severity of your menstrual cramps. Magnesium also helps reduce the prostaglandins coursing throughout your body. Finally, magnesium supports an enzyme that is released by the liver which promotes natural estrogen excretion and reduces the risk of uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroids can increase pain during your period. Taking a magnesium supplement or eating foods that are rich in magnesium like flaxseed, legumes, beans, and tofu can help to reduce or eliminate period pain.
Acupuncture – Acupuncture can help to relieve your menstrual pain. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, pain during menstruation can be caused by blood deficiency, blood stagnation, or qi stagnation. Blood deficiency causes dull pain. Blood stagnation leads to stabbing sharp pain during the first three days of your period. Finally, qi stagnation causes the dull pain experienced midway through your menstrual cycle. Acupuncture helps relieve your period pain by activating the LI4 (Large intestine 4), the LV3 (Liver 3), SP8 (Spleen 8), and CV6 (Sea of Qi). When these acupuncture points are engaged, menstrual pain and bloating will diminish.
Holistic Treatment for Menstrual Issues
Menstrual pain can limit a woman’s ability to carry out even normal activities especially during the first few days of her cycle. While there is no foolproof method of stopping period pain quickly, there are several proven remedies that can help reduce period pain, relieve bloating, and improve the overall menstrual cycle. Our holistic practitioners specialize in women’s health issues including treatment for perimenopause, menopause, and other hormone issues. They also provide guidance on herbal supplements that help to relieve pain associated with periods and menstruation.