It happens every month like clockwork. The slow, dull ache, that turns quickly into a roaring, searing pain. You can’t tell if you’re ever going to be able to get out of the fetal position again, or if laying on the couch is really even helping. Is ice cream going to fix it? Chocolate? What, if anything, can possibly make these horrendous period cramps go away?
Gynecologist Dr. Carole Neuman has seen her fair share of women who suffer needlessly and endlessly from menstrual cramps. Because our gynecological clinic is a place that’s rooted and practiced upon the basis of compassion, trust us when we say that we believe you. We know how painful menstrual cramps can be, and we are more than happy to share some ideas and potential remedies that could make a difference in your menstrual cycle. Take a look at some things that can help the pain go away, and schedule a visit with our gynecologist today!
What causes the pain?
Before diving into remedies, it’s important for women (and really, everyone) to understand what causes cramping during one’s period. To start, we should make it clear that while menstrual cramps are a common symptom, not everyone experiences them.
Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for menstrual cramps, and for many women, they occur just before and/or during their period. While there are certain conditions that can cause particularly severe cramping, oftentimes it’s due to your uterus contracting. During a period, the uterus begins to contract, in order to properly get rid of its lining. As Mayo Clinic states, “Hormonelike substances (prostaglandins) involved in pain and inflammation trigger the uterine muscle contractions. Higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with more-severe menstrual cramps.”
In a further blog, we’ll cover a few of the other conditions that can result in severe period pain and cramping. But until that time, know that for many women, this is the cause of cramping, and there are things that can be done about it.
Remedies to Try
Of course, there’s no guarantee that any one of these things will make your cramps completely disappear — in fact, that’s pretty unlikely, because cramps are the symptom, not the cause. But when you’re doubled over in pain and looking for something to help, try some of these ideas to get some relief.
When your uterus is contracting, this means that the muscles in your uterus are tightening up (which is what’s causing the pain). Applying heat can help those muscles relax, calm down a little bit, and make the pain begin to ease up. If you’re feeling some particularly rough waves of pain, a heating pad or hot water bottle could very well make a difference.
Vitamin D is most effective for reducing period pain when taken preventatively. A study was conducted, in which a group of women were given a vitamin D supplement five days before their period, and a second group received a placebo. As Medical Daily reports, “Their pain score dropped by 41 percent, while those in the placebo group saw no change.”
Again, in order for this to truly make a difference, try upping your vitamin D intake at least a week before your period starts — though ideally you should be having a consistent and steady diet that’s comprised of all essential nutrients and vitamins. Fish, such as tuna and salmon, cheese, milk, and eggs are all great examples of foods that are high in vitamin D.
We get it — when you feel as though your uterus is exploding, the last thing you want to do is go for a run. This is again more of a preventative measure, because regular exercise can greatly reduce your overall pain scale when it comes to period cramps (and more than anything, is just good for you to do). That being said, try to go for a walk or do any kind of physical activity that you can. We know how good it sounds to curl up in a ball and watch something on Netflix, but exercising releases endorphins, which can counter and lessen the pain that you’re experiencing.
When it comes to period pain, a remedy is a remedy! Medical Daily reports that, “Before an orgasm, the uterus is more relaxed, and at the moment of climax, blood flow increases, helping to relieve the cramps.” Additionally, orgasms release endorphins, which are also excellent pain-relievers. And hey, as we said, physical activity is a great way to relieve some of the pain — this just happens to arguably be a little more fun than jogging.
Some women swear by Tylenol, others swear by Midol, but in either case, there are some medications available that could help alleviate some of the pain. Here are some things to note about some of the most common medications:
- Advil and Motrin are anti-inflammatories, meaning they work to reduce swelling. While ibuprofen works for some women to combat their period pain, it’s not always the case — particularly when one’s uterus is contracting, and not swollen or inflamed.
- Tylenol is an acetaminophen, which is a pain-reliever that does not reduce swelling.
- Midol is a combination of several ingredients, including acetaminophen, caffeine, and an antihistamine, designed to combat a number of period symptoms.
What if the remedies aren’t working?
If nothing is working, if the pain is so intense that you can barely make it through the day, it’s time to schedule an appointment with our gynecologist. You should absolutely not have to suffer, and you shouldn’t think that your pain is something that you just have to “deal with.” Our GYN clinic is here because we acknowledge your pain, your experience, and we are here to make everything easier.
In our next blog, we’ll cover some of the negative stigmas that exist with a woman’s menstrual cycle, and how you can break through them. Neuman GYN is here to ensure that you are cared for — not just when you’re at our women’s health center, but when you’re everywhere else, as well. Schedule your next appointment today, and we’ll work together to find a solution for reducing your menstrual cramps.