What Is Menstrual cramps?
Menstrual cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea are the cramping or throbbing pains that you get in your lower abdomen or back, just before or during your menstrual period. Most women experience menstrual cramps sometime during their lives while menstruating. Menstrual cramps may just be a mild discomfort or for some women, these can be so severe as to hamper their daily activities during the days when they have their period.
Menstrual cramps normally start a year or two when you begin having your period. And may decrease slowly over time and get less painful as you grow older and sometimes may stop completely when you have a baby. Sometimes, menstrual cramps may also be caused due to some underlying problem such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids.
What Are The Symptoms Of Menstrual cramps?
Some of the symptoms of menstrual cramps are:
- Discomfort or throbbing or cramping pain in your belly or lower abdomen (sometimes it can be quite intense)
- Pressure in your belly
- Pain that radiates to your inner thighs, hips and the lower back
- When the pain is very severe, it may cause symptoms including:
- Loose stools
- Upset stomach accompanied by vomiting
What Are The Causes Of Menstrual cramps?
- Cramps occur due to contractions of the uterus or the womb.
- Uterus contracts to expel the uterine lining caused by the presence of prostaglandins. A higher level of prostaglandins can cause more severe cramps.
Secondary dysmenorrhea (a problem in the reproductive organs that causes cramps).
- Endometriosis (when the endometrium or tissue lining the uterus is outside the uterus).
- PID or pelvic inflammatory disease (usually starts in the uterus and may spread to other parts of the reproductive organs and is caused by bacteria).
- Uterine fibroids (growths in the uterus).
- Adenomyosis (tissue that lines the uterus grows into the walls of the uterus).
- Cervical Stenosis (narrowing of the cervix or the lower part of the uterus).
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Menstrual cramps?
- If the cramps are mild, you can take aspirin or a mild pain reliever.
- You can use a hot water bottle or heat pad to relieve the pain in your tummy or back.
- Taking a warm bath can help to provide relief from pain.
- If you are having a lot of pain, it is a good idea to rest.
- Taking dietary supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin B1 and B6 and magnesium can help to alleviate menstrual cramps.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Menstrual cramps?
- Avoid psychological stress and anxiety, as this can increase the severity of the menstrual cramps.
- Don’t take painkillers on an empty stomach as they will worsen the condition of pain in the stomach.
What Are The Best Foods For Menstrual cramps?
- Having chamomile tea twice a day a week before your period can help to relieve menstrual cramps as the chamomile tea increases the levels of glycine in the urine that helps to prevent muscle spasms.
- Have brown rice which is rich in vitamin B6 that can help to reduce bloating and also the symptoms of menstrual cramps.
- Foods rich in manganese such as almonds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts help to ease menstrual cramps.
- Foods like sunflower seeds, liver, eggs, avocados and almonds are rich in vitamin E that can help to ease period cramps.
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, flaxseeds, olives, olive oil, etc. are rich in antioxidants and help to reduce inflammation and swelling and lessen the pain caused due to menstrual cramps.
- Foods like chicken, fish, papaya and leafy green vegetables, broccoli contain vitamins and iron that can help to reduce the symptoms of menstrual cramps.
- Boron helps to relieve menstrual pain. So, it is a good idea to eat foods like peanut butter, prunes, chickpeas, avocados and bananas that are rich in boron.
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. This can help to prevent water retention in the body and prevents bloating and cramps during menstruation. It is a good idea to drink warm or hot water as this increases the blood flow and can help to relax the cramped muscles.
- Eating foods that have a high-water content also helps to reduce menstrual cramps like watermelon, berries like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc., lettuce, celery, cucumbers, etc.
- Foods that are rich in calcium like dairy products, almonds, sesame seeds, and green leafy vegetables help to reduce pain caused due to menstrual cramps.
- Zinc supplementation to your diet a few days before your period can help to prevent bloating and menstrual cramps. Foods rich in zinc are red meat, poultry, oysters, etc.
What Are The Worst Foods For Menstrual cramps?
- Avoid foods that cause water retention in the body and bloating.
- Avoid fatty and fried foods like chips, fries, baked food, etc. as they worsen the symptoms of menstrual cramps.
- Avoid carbonated beverages and fizzy drinks like cola, soda, etc. as they cause bloating and increase the pain during periods.
- Cut down on salt in your diet or eliminate salt and avoid salty foods like bacon, canned foods, chips, packaged foods, etc. as they cause water retention and bloating and worsen the pain caused due to menstrual cramps.
- Avoid sugar and sugary foods like candy, jellies, ice cream, pastries, cakes, etc. as sugar increase menstrual cramping and pain. If you feel like having something sweet have fruits like raspberries, strawberries, etc. instead.
- Avoid foods with Omega-6 fatty acids like corn oil, safflower oil, etc., as these fats produce inflammatory substances and aggravate the menstrual pain.
What Are The Medicines For Menstrual cramps?
What Are The Tips To Manage Menstrual cramps?
- Research reveals that massaging your abdomen, back and side can provide relief from menstrual cramps. So, having a massage therapy for around 20 minutes can help in reducing pain.
- Studies show that exercising regularly or physical activity can help to prevent menstrual cramps. So, it is a good idea to follow a regular exercise routine. You can also do some yoga a few days before your period as yoga can help to reduce the pain during your period.
- Taking herbal supplements like fennel, pycnogenol, dill, cinnamon and ginger can help to lessen the severity and provide relief from menstrual cramp pain, as they contain anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic compounds that reduce the inflammation and swelling during periods.
- Alternative therapies like acupressure and acupuncture involve stimulating specific points of the body and can help to relieve menstrual cramps.