7 effective ways to reduce period pain

7 effective ways to reduce period pain

Ah, painful rules. There is nothing like that – and when it is bad, it really is, really wrong.

I have had my period for over 20 years and I am still surprised almost every month by the intensity of my menstrual pain. Cramps, painful periods – or primary dysmenorrhea if you want to get chic – is incredibly common.

Menstrual pain affects the daily life of 20% of women.Latthe P, et al. (2012). Dysmenorrhea. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2012/0215/p386.html About 1 in 10 women experience such intense pain during their menstrual cycles that they should limit their activities one to three days a month. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. (2016). Menstrual pain: overview. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279324/

It is one day a month (or more) that you should write off completely just because your uterine lining has decided to lose.

Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to quickly get rid of menstrual pain. But there are ways to reduce cramps, relieve pain, and possibly prevent the cramps from getting worse in the first place.

"Menstrual pain is often caused by prostaglandins, hormone-like chemicals that cause uterine contraction," says Jolene Brighten, medical director of Rubus Health and author of "Beyond the pill. "

Although it seems that muscle contractions would cause pain, it is actually prostaglandins that take you to the cramps in town. As a general rule, the more prostaglandins in your body, the worse your period will make you feel.

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize these body chemicals and reduce your pain, although they don't always give you the quickest relief.

If you want to relieve pain naturally, there is bad news. The Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care Says There are Only Two Scientifically Proven Ways to Relieve Menstrual Pain: Oral Contraceptives and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which includes ibuprofen. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. (2016). Menstrual pain: overview. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279324/

This does not mean that these are the only options for pain relief – they just have the best scientific support. Unfortunately, there are very little research in cures for severe period pains, which could explain why there are so few medically approved solutions.

If you experience intense and constant pain, contraception may be able to alleviate the symptoms. Dmitrovic R et al. (2012). Continuous versus cyclical oral contraceptives for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized controlled trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3631421/ Obviously, it won't help that minute if you're stuck on the couch with cramps, but the pill tends to ease menstrual symptoms from the first month of use.

It doesn't always work – I still had painful menstrual cramps and I have been taking contraceptives for years – but it is worth asking your doctor to tell you about it.

If you are a ball of cramps, the best thing you can do is take ibuprofen with a coffee chaser. Evidence suggests that 200 milligrams (mg) of ibuprofen plus 100 mg of caffeine (about a cup of coffee) were very effective in relieving acute pain. Derry S et al. (2015). Single dose ibuprofen plus caffeine for acute postoperative pain in adults. https://www.cochrane.org/CD011509/SYMPT_single-dose-oral-ibuprofen-plus-caffeine-acute-postoperative-pain-adults

If you are trying to combat cramps, be sure to take an NSAID, not just any pain reliever. You need the anti-inflammatory properties of ibuprofen or naproxen (Aleve) to feel better. If you take Tylenol, you may have less a headache, but you will still have cramps.

If you're sensitive to NSAIDs or just don't like taking over-the-counter pills, you still have relief options.

Heating pads

If you want to avoid drugs completely, heat treatment may be your best option.

Whether you're using a hot water bottle, heating pad, or bathing in a warm bath, the heat helps your muscles relax and relieves pain. Lying down with something hot on your sore stomach or relaxing in the tub can also reduce your overall stress.

While there aren't a lot of studies on why the heat patches work, there is no downside to doing something nice and fun. relaxing – especially during the worst of your period.


"When I have cramps, I like to go running," said no one – probably already. For most of us, exercise is the last on the list of things to do when you have menstrual pain – but it can really help.

"Working helps reduce the level of prostaglandins and regulate digestion," says Elizabeth Trattner, certified acupuncturist. Since prostaglandins cause much of the pain, anything that reduces prostaglandins will make you feel better. In addition, training releases endorphins in the body, which improves your mood.

Trattner says it doesn't mean you are heading to a bootcamp course when you are feeling extreme pain. Instead, she recommends adding exercise before your period to help relieve cramps before they start. During your period (when you are not in pain), try going for a walk or doing some light activity, just to counteract these prostaglandins before they take their toll.


"In my clinical practice, I recommend that women aim for 300 mg of magnesium bysglicinate per night to help relieve menstrual cramps," says Brighten. She says magnesium can be effective in lowering prostaglandins and reducing pain.

Unfortunately, you can't just take magnesium and feel better in minutes. But an overnight dose often minimizes cramps during your period.


My dream diet is a full shot – just pizza, chocolate and ice cream for five full days. Unfortunately, this is the worst way to eat if you want to relieve menstrual pain. Processed and fried foods are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which is not good.

"When our diet is rich in omega-6, we create stronger prostaglandins," says Brighten. "To counter this, you need to include foods rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3s like salmon, sardines, nuts and flaxseeds.

Trattner recommends keeping a healthy, high-fiber diet for the last two weeks of your cycle. Sure, it means avoiding junk food when you want it most, but it can reduce the severity of cramps and pain once your period finally arrives in town.

If you've tried baths, workouts, and high-fiber foods and need something a little more hardcore, you have a few slightly more unusual options to try.

TENS machine

Hanging your stomach on a shock machine may not sound like fun, but that's the basic principle of a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machine. You stick a few small pads to your stomach and the machine sends electrical impulses to the muscles. This reduces the amount of pain signals that reach the brain, which relieves the pain.

It sounds a little scary, but it's surprisingly sweet. the National health service In the UK, there is not enough evidence to show that the TENS machine relieves pain, but a small study found that TENS relieves cramps. Proctor M et al. (2002). Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for primary dysmenorrhea. DO I: 10.1002 / 14651858.CD002123

Livia, a product that claims to "cut the menstrual pain," is essentially a TENS unit. But, like many products for women, it is much more expensive! A Livia Kit costs $ 149 while a TENS machine from Amazon only costs $ 27. Before you start shocking your abdomen, be sure to consult your doctor.


There is growing evidence that cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive part of marijuana, is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Nagarkatti P, et al. (2010). Cannabinoids as new anti-inflammatory drugs. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/ Studies on the drug have been sparse, so there isn't much scientific evidence for the effectiveness of CBD, but there are many anecdotal reports of how CBD works.

Whoopi Goldberg even has a range of medical cannabis products specially designed to make periods less miserable, so at least it's a fun fact that you can take out on your next quiz night.

So the next time the red witch comes to visit you, you will be able to stock up on magnesium, ibuprofen, heating pads, healthy food and workout videos. While none of these things can stop menstrual pain completely, it can provide much-needed relief to the best enemy of women.

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