Want to know how to reduce period pain naturally? Take a look at our recommendations.
Women are blessed and cursed with periods every month. Regular periods are a sign of good health, but periods come hand-in-hand with a variety of uncomfortable side effects: skin breakouts, cravings, hormonal imbalances, bloating and last but not least, dysmenorrhea aka period cramps.
90% of younger women experience dysmenorrhea at some point, with cramps ranging from mild to severe. Some period cramps can be so crippling that it becomes impossible to do daily tasks. In fact, more than half of the women who took part in a poll conducted by the BBC in 2016 said that their period interferes with their job. On top of that, only 27% of them felt comfortable enough to tell their boss about the problem.
We all know that there is still a taboo around periods – from hiding your tampons and rushing to the bathroom, to sitting at your desk and suffering in silence dreaming of 5 o’clock when you can rush home to bed and curl up with your hot water bottle. But until then we rely on painkillers, and a couple of painkillers throughout one week of each month of the year doesn’t sound like much until you consider that the average woman spends 2,280 days on her period throughout her lifetime. That’s an awful lot of painkillers!
So, if you like me suffer from period cramps but don’t want to overdo it with painkillers and would prefer to have a healthy, happy and less painful period naturally, then try the following natural remedies:
Firstly, make sure you’re staying hydrated by drinking enough water! Women experience fluctuations and bloating during periods, and if your oestrogen and progesterone levels recede, your body retains more water. This can impact your digestive system and lead to constipation, bloating and gas. Drinking enough water fights these side effects.
A study conducted in 2001 found that women who applied heat to the affected area felt less pain. Heat pads are claimed to be effective for reducing pain by increasing blood flow to the uterus and encouraging muscle relaxation.
Green vegetables like kale, spinach, swiss chard and collard greens restore our body’s iron levels, something that gets lost during menstruation. Adding more greens to your plate or smoothie will be good for both your health and your cramps.
Cinnamon has proven to help period cramps due to its anti-spasmodic properties. It’s shown to have a significant effect on reducing pain, menstrual bleeding, nausea and vomiting, which are side effects of dysmenorrhea.
Although the last thing you think of doing on your period is exercising, research has shown that low-intensity workouts have a positive impact on your body during your period. A total of 78% of the 14,000 women surveyed said exercise helped with side effects of periods. Taking a low-impact exercise class like Yoga or Pilates is great for this time of month – helping reduce period pain and clear you mind.
Your body will thank you for swapping your coffee for herbal tea during your period. There are so many herbal teas available on the market but anything containing ginger, raspberry leaf, chamomile, peppermint, fennel or cinnamon is what you should look out for and introduce to your diet.
Another swap to make is vitamins instead of painkillers. There are a variety of vitamins that could be taken in order to help your body through your period. For example, omega-3 helps lower inflammation, calcium citrate maintains muscle tone, vitamin D helps your body use calcium and reduces inflammation… There are many vitamins that could be useful for this time of the month, it’s just about finding what works for you.
While it’s important that we take supplements or swap caffeine for decaf during our period, it’s equally as important what you remove from your diet. Avoiding the following could also help reduce period pain:
Snacks (sweets, chocolate, crisps)
Giving in to your sugar cravings will give you short-lived pleasure. In the long-run it’s better to cut down on snacking, unless its dark chocolate which has shown to soothe emotions and provide health benefits. Dark chocolate with over 70% cocoa will relax your muscles due to its magnesium, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Consuming alcohol can cause menstrual irregularities and may cause cramping to last longer. A study conducted by the University of Southampton found that alcohol was linked to severe cases of PMS.
Try and avoid spicy food during your period as it can lead to gas, cramps and bloating. Be kind to your body and keep your meals mild!