How to Ease Period Cramps

Over half of menstruating women report some level of pain due to period cramps for one to two days per month. Period cramps, also known by the medical term dysmenorrhea, are not a cause for worry, but they can make it difficult to lead your normal lifestyle. The next time you’re seeking relief during your period, try one or more of the following techniques to ease your cramps.

  1. Apply heat
    In some instances, applying heat topically relieves period cramps just as effectively as over-the-counter pain medications. Place a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower back or abdomen. You may also get some relief by taking a warm or hot bath. Applying heat alongside taking pain medication will speed up the relief process.
  2. Increase your magnesium intake
    Magnesium assists with regulating nerve and muscle functioning, minimizing menstrual cramps. The recommended maximum daily magnesium allowance for adult women is 320 mg daily. One-half cup boiled spinach or one-ounce dry almonds contains around 80 mg. Consult with your doctor to determine your optimal dosage. Magnesium is available as a supplement and is found in many foods. Magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, fish, nuts, seeds, soybeans, avocados, bananas, and dark chocolate.
  3. Take fish oil and Vitamin B12 supplements
    Women who suffer menstrual pain may get some relief by taking fish oil supplements and vitamin B-12iii. These two supplements are suspected to work as they are known to decrease inflammation.
  4. Take an over-the-counter pain relief
    Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) pain relief medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen, offer relief for most mild menstrual crampsiv. Local release of prostaglandins brings about period cramps. Taking an NSAID decreases prostaglandin production and reduces general inflammation and pain. You’ll receive the most relief when you take pain medication as soon as bleeding starts, or you start to experience cramping. Always adhere to the recommended NSAID dosage. Consult with your doctor if you have a history of kidney issues or bleeding to confirm that NSAIDs are a good option for you.
  5. Know when to expect your period
    Periods normally occur on a predictable cycle. Knowing when to expect your next period is a good step in preparing and planning your time appropriately. Knowing what days you may need to spend more time on your health can help you plan the perfect spa day, work from home, or adapt your exercise routine. Try out the free Carefree® period tracker to plan out your cycle and never be surprised.
  6. Exercise
    Women who work out consistently often suffer less menstrual pain. When you do have cramps, the last thing you feel like doing is staying active. However, taking a few quick laps around the block or getting on the exercise bike will boost endorphins, getting rid of the pain. Aerobic exercise and stretching both help soothe cramps.
  7. Undergo a massage with essential oil
    Certain aromatic essential oils relieve period cramps when they’re massaged into the lower back. Massaging the abdomen proves effective for many women who suffer from cramps as well. Get into the habit of using a diluted essential oils mixture for your massages from the end of one period through the beginning of your next period.

If you experience severe period cramps or don’t receive any relief after trying one of the previous methods, consult with your gynecologist or another health care professional to check for more serious health issues.

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.

iProvided by WebMD. 2000, June 20. Fish Oil, Vitamin B-12 May Offer Relief During That Time of the Month. 
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iiWikipedia contributors. 2017, June 20. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
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