Menstrual pain, also referred to as period cramps, refers to pain that is located in the lower abdominal region and whose onset is marked by the start of one’s periods. This pain typically lasts for three days in many women, but may surpass this for those with heavy bleeding.
The pain is described as a pulsating pain which may either be sharp or dull depending on an individual’s body and cycle. The intensity of menstrual pain varies among different individuals, and ranges from a mild distraction to a debilitating condition that hampers one’s daily routine.
Studies show that women with the following conditions are predisposed to menstrual pain: early menarche (menarche refers to the onset of menstruation, the first period), heavy menses, obesity and lifestyle habits such as cigarette smoking and alcohol intake. The exact cause of menstrual pain can be traced back to the presence of prostaglandins.
These are chemical compounds that are produced by the body in order to trigger uterine contractions to allow for expulsion of blood. An increased concentration of prostaglandins leads to severe pain and more intense contractions. In addition to this pain, menstrual pain is often accompanied by symptoms such as diarrhea, headaches, nausea and vomiting. Many women will also experience body weakness and irritability.
Menstrual pain may also be exacerbated by conditions that affect the female reproductive system. These may include endometriosis, fibroids and infections of the organs among others. Extreme menstrual pain that prevents you from going about your daily chores warrants medical attention. Mild menstrual pain on the other hand, can be managed using a wide range of natural home remedies. These natural solutions have minimal side-effects and many of them are easy to get.
1. Hot Water Bottle:
Time Required: 20 Min or until you get relief from the pain.
What You Need: A hot water bottle, hot water, and soft towel. In the absence of this specialized bottle, a regular plastic bottle will work just fine. Other options include a towel, water microwave, and/or a hot bath.
A hot water bottle is, undoubtedly, one of the most popular home remedies for women who suffer menstrual pain. Heat application to the lower abdomen goes a long way in providing relief from the pain. This is because the heat relaxes the contracting uterine muscles, thus helping you manage the pain. This remedy requires the hot water bottle (available at stores) and hot water. The former has the advantage of retaining heat for longer.
In its absence however, you can always use a regular plastic water bottle. The only drawback for this option is that you may need to keep refilling with hot water to retain its efficiency. Other ways to get the most of this remedy include a hot bath, or using a hot towel by following the procedures below.
- Fill your choice bottle with hot water and place it on your lower abdomen. Cover the bottle with a soft towel to prevent the heat from dissipating.
- Let the bottle remain there for 5 minutes before alternating with the lower back.
- Do this as often as you need to until you get relief.
- Alternatively, soak the towel in the water and squeeze before microwaving for 5 minutes. Place the towel on your lower abdomen, and switch with the lower back until you get relief. When the towel cools, repeat the process until you feel better.
- Taking a hot bath as well can help manage menstrual pain.
- Do this twice daily, or more if so desired.
2. Fennel Seeds:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 Tablespoon of Fennel seeds, 1 cup of boiling water, a strainer, and 1 teaspoon of honey.
Fennel seeds are recommended for the management of menstrual pain because they have great antispasmodic traits. Herbs with these traits help lower the intensity of the uterine contractions, thus making the condition manageable. These seeds are also anti-inflammatory in nature, making them a great pain-buster. Regular use of fennel seeds, especially prior to the onset of the period, goes a long way in giving you relief from the cramps and overall bodily discomfort.
- Place the seeds in a cup and pour the boiling water over.
- Transfer the mixture to a pan and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat before passing the tea through a strainer to eliminate the boiled seeds.
- Stir in the honey and mix well before sipping on it while still hot. In addition to regular intake of this tea, you may want to increase your intake to three times daily a couple of days before your cycle starts.
3. Raw Ginger:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Fresh ginger root (about 1/2 inch), grater, a cup of water, a teaspoon of both honey, and lemon juice.
Ginger is popularly referred to as a ‘miracle herb, and for good reason. Ginger has excellent healing properties, and when it comes to the treatment of menstrual pain, the herb’s anti-inflammatory properties help relieve the discomfort. Ginger achieves this by decreasing the concentration of prostaglandins in the body. The herb also works well for women who feel weak and irritable as it helps manage the fatigue that is linked to menstrual cycles.
- Peel and clean the ginger root well before grating it. Use the smallest setting on the grater to ensure that you get a greater surface area for the tea-making process.
- Place the grated ginger in a cup and boil the resulting mixture for some five minutes.
- Pass the ginger tea through the strainer before adding the honey and lemon juice.
- Stir and enjoy this remedy at least three times daily during your menstrual cycle.
4. Cinnamon Tea (Herbal):
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1/2 Teaspoon of cinnamon powder, a cup of boiling hot water, and 1 teaspoon of honey.
Cinnamon is yet another wonder herb, thanks to its great healing properties. In addition to its antispasmodic properties which help manage the spasmic uterine contractions, cinnamon also assists with pain management thanks to its anti-inflammatory traits. Other benefits of using cinnamon include presence of nutrients such as Iron (which is vital for those with heavy bleeding), Manganese and Calcium.
The herb also provides you with dietary fiber without creating bloating. The best way to benefit from this herbal tea is by taking it at least 2 days prior to the start of your menstrual cycle. Make sure too, that you make it a regular part of your diet to ease the pain in the long run.
- Place the cinnamon powder in a cup and pour the hot water.
- Allow the herb to steep for 5 minutes. You may strain it if you want to.
- Add the honey and stir before drinking slowly. This tea is best taken hot three times a day in order to fight the pain associated with menstrual cycle.
5. Blackstrap Molasses:
Time Required: 15 Min
What You Need: 1 Tablespoon of blackstrap molasses and 1 cup of warm milk.
Blackstrap molasses, regarded as the highest grade and most nutritious of molasses, are a great remedy for menstrual pain. The process of creating these molasses means that it has the lowest concentration of sugars, and is laden with nutrients unlike its refined sugar counterpart.
Not only are these molasses rich in nutrients such as Iron, Manganese, Potassium and Vitamin B6, they also play an essential role in the prevention of blood clotting. During menstruation, this helps with the expulsion of blood by easing the muscles and soothing the contracting uterus muscles. This two-ingredient natural remedy is both effective and easy to prepare.
- Add the blackstrap molasses to the warm milk and stir.
- Drink this whenever the menstrual cramps set in and continue throughout your menstrual cycle.
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1/2 Cup of fresh parsley, 1 cup of boiling water, and a strainer.
Parsley is not only a great kitchen ingredient, it could also hold the answer to intense menstrual pain. These healing properties are attributed to the presence of two key ingredients, namely myristicin and apiol. The two ingredients enhance the expulsion of blood from the uterus by causing the dilation of the cervix while providing pain relief. For women with irregular cycles, increased intake of parsley is thought to help make the cycle regular.
- Sort and wash the fresh parsley before placing in the clean mug.
- Add the hot water to the parsley and allow to sit for five minutes. This is done to facilitate steeping and allow you get the most of the herb’s healing properties.
- Pass the mixture through the strainer and drink immediately to prevent the tea’s benefits from degenerating.
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 Tablespoon of basil leaves, 1 cup of boiling water, and sieve.
Basil leaves are yet another excellent herb for women who suffer menstrual pain, thanks to the leaves’ analgesic properties. The presence of an active compound known as caffeic acid allows for the leaves’ anti-inflammatory to provide you with relief from the cramps. You may prepare herbal tea as described below, or opt to simply add fresh basil leaves to your daily meals.
- Place the basil leaves in the cup of boiling water and cover.
- Allow the leaves to steep as the mixture cools.
- Sieve the mixture and sip on this drink as often as you need pain relief from the period pains.
8. Increased Intake of Magnesium and Calcium:
Time Required: Varies depending on the respective foods.
What You Need: Foods rich in Magnesium and Calcium. Supplements (optional).
Research shows that Calcium and Magnesium play a key role in helping women manage menstrual pain. Here’s how this works: a deficiency of calcium causes hyperactivity of muscles throughout the body. In women with period pains, this worsens the pain. By increasing your calcium intake, the muscles relax and uterine contractions reduce significantly, making this an ideal remedy for this condition. Calcium also has the advantage of preventing water retention and bloating while boosting your mood and preventing irritability.
Foods rich in Calcium include milk, yogurt and cheese. If you are lactose-intolerant, or do not take dairy as a choice, get your supply of calcium from legumes, seafood, leafy vegetables and fruits. Magnesium on the other hand, is used because it assists with the process of calcium absorption, in effect providing relief from menstrual pain. Foods rich in Magnesium include salmon, beans, nuts and different types of vegetables. Alternatively, use supplements in place of the different foods if you opt to. Make sure to follow the indicated dosages.
- Simply add the aforementioned foods to your diet and note whether you see any improvements in subsequent cycles.
- You may also use respective supplements.
9. Physical Exercise:
Time Required: Varies depending on your choice exercise.
What You Need: Comfortable exercise gear and equipment, as well as a positive mindset.
It is practically impossible to talk about natural remedies for menstrual pain without making mention of physical exercise. Exercise not only allows your body to release endorphins, it is also an excellent way to avoid bloating. Bloating is one of the most common symptoms of menstrual period, and one which often worsens the pain.
Walking is an effective exercise as it helps enhance the circulation of blood to the pelvic region, thus easing the pain. Swimming, while not practical for a number of women, is also a good form of exercise which you can indulge in. All you need to do is get into the right frame of mind and get active.
- Set up your schedule to accommodate at least 30 minutes of your choice exercise daily.
Other natural remedies that you may use to manage menstrual pain include papaya (which contains papain, a potent anti-inflammatory), flaxseed (which helps regulate the production of progesterone) and chamomile tea (for its antispasmodic properties). Alongside these remedies, it helps to improve your diet by steering clear of fats and increasing fresh fruits and vegetables. Massaging using essential oils has also been shown to be an ideal option for the treatment of menstrual pain. Lastly,. you may consider tracking your cycle as this prepares you psychologically and can at the very least, help you feel better.