Menstrual cramps can be a woman’s nightmare. Women experience cramps during menstruation as the womb muscles contract and relax to aid in shedding the built-up lining.
While doctors are not entirely sure why some women experience painful cramps and others mild, several factors play a part in the pain’s intensity. Diet has mostly been linked to women experiencing painful cramps, but other factors include the use of birth control, endometriosis and growths in the womb. Other women also experience lower back pain, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. The good news is, there are several ways you can naturally reduce the pain:
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Apply heat: Heat boosts blood circulation, which can reduce pain. Applying heat to your abdomen can help relax the womb muscles. While using heating patches are more convenient, hot water bottles and heating pads are almost as effective. Research showed that using a heating patch also helped control mood swings and reduce fatigue, which most menstruating women experience. In case you can’t access a heat wrap, it’s possible to make one while at home. Take two pieces of fabric and sew together, leaving a hole at the top. Feel it with uncooked rice, sew the hole, and microwave the rice until it reaches your desired temperature. Be careful not to overheat it.
Massages: Just like applying heat, massages help with blood flow. Experts even recommend massaging yourself on the abdomen in a circular motion for about five minutes to reduce the pain. Using essential oils such as lavender and sage is also advisable as they contain compounds reported to relieve pain.
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Exercise: Any form of exercise can help reduce menstrual cramps. Doctors recommend about 30 minutes of low-to-medium intensity workouts for pain relief. Studies show that women who exercise during or before periods reported significant cramps reduction. If you experience fatigue, try stretching, or doing yoga. A study published in September 2016 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that 20 students who did a one-hour yoga session once a week for three months experienced fewer cramps than 20 other students who didn’t.
Avoid eating certain foods: Most women crave fatty, salty, and sugary foods while menstruating. However, experts recommend avoiding foods these as they cause bloating and retain water. Alcohol and caffeine are also highly discouraged as they increase inflammation, thus encouraging period pain. Instead, try anti-inflammatory foods such as tomatoes, cherries, bell papers, or blueberries. If you want to reduce your monthly cramps significantly, try eating healthy throughout the year, not a few days to your periods.
Try acupressure: Acupressure is the practice of applying pressure on acupuncture joints to signal the body to turn on its self-healing mechanism. This form of massage has been used for over 2000 years in traditional Chinese medicine to encourage qi’s (life energy) movement in the body. To relieve pain, apply pressure on the space between your thumb and index finger and move in circles for about five minutes. You can also apply pressure to other key points on the abdomen, feet, and back.
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