How Can I Reduce Bad and Severe Period Pains and Cramps?
How Do You Help Ease Your Period Pains?
Period cramps are no fun, and I've noticed women desperately looking for help to solve their pains. Many of these women are at their wit's end and have no idea what they can do to ease the terrible period cramps (dysmenorrhea) they are having to endure most—if not all—months.
Before you assume you have a medical condition that might be the cause of your extreme period pain, how can you try to reduce the pains to bearable levels that don't leave you doubled up in agony, vomiting, or passing out? Let's move on to the solutions every woman should explore when suffering from period pains, especially those new to periods and the period cramps they experience.
These methods should be tried before you rush off to a doctor insisting on a deeper investigation. I urge you to give these a try before worrying or panicking about the level of pain you are going through. Use my tips below to help you live in relatively more comfort during Aunt Flo's visits!
26 Solutions to Decrease Period Pains and Cramps
- Mefenamic Acid 500mg. This is the one thing that saved me from the worst of the agonizing pains. While it's only available with a prescription, doctors will normally put at least six months worth on one prescription. It is an anti-cramp medication that actually stops the cramps, thereby addressing the actual cause of the pain. Painkillers are generally fighting a losing battle when it comes to really bad period pains—it is a bit like trying to put out a fire with a napkin. I have recommended mefenamic acid many times because of this.
- Warm Baths. A warm bath really does ease the pains that accompany your period. It seems to relax all the affected areas in a way a shower simply can't. Take some time to run a nice bath, preferably scented with essential oils like lavender, and put aside a good hour to relax and soak.
- Lavender or Clary Sage Essential Oils. I highly recommend lavender or clary sage oils (they need to be 'pure essential oils' if they are to work). Gently massage a small amount onto the painful areas and leave them for your skin to absorb. These oils are natural painkillers, but lavender is also a natural sedative that should help you sleep better despite the discomfort.
- A Hot Water Bottle. Hot water bottles are a blessing when it comes to period pains. These days, they don't have to contain water. You can find microwavable 'bottles' full of cereal products that are just as effective. A hot water bottle held against your abdomen with a towel between it and your bare skin can definitely ease the pain.
- Evening Primrose Oil. Many women swear by evening primrose oil as a cure for period pains. I haven't tried it, but I cannot dismiss the fact that many others have tried and found it works well. It's probably easiest to take it in a capsule form, and you should be able to easily find it at pharmacies and health food shops.
- The Pill. Assuming you aren't trying for a baby, the pill can help with period pains by regulating your hormones.
- Fetal Position. Lying in a fetal position with your knees tucked up against your chest can ease the pain caused by period cramps.
- Exercise. Mild exercise can help, although it's probably the last thing you feel like doing. Gentle exercise like walking and swimming will improve your blood supply and should help the cramps to decrease.
- Acupuncture. Many women swear by acupuncture for alleviating period pains. You have nothing to lose by giving it a try, as it has proven to be an effective method to address many types of painful conditions.
- Alcohol. A glass or two of your favorite tipple can help to relax you—while also thinning the blood—and thereby the cramping tissues as well. Give this a try, especially before bed to help you get to sleep.
- Massage. It's probably more relaxing if someone else does the massaging for you. Concentrate on the lower back and abdomen to ease the pain.
- Painkillers. I do recommend these in conjunction with other treatments such as Mefenamic Acid tablets. I also feel the two work best when used together. Painkillers alone rarely solve severe period cramps, probably because it is asking too much of them.
- Diet. No, I'm not saying to go on a diet! Adjust your diet to include plenty of foods high in zinc, calcium, and B vitamins. They should reduce the level of bloating and alleviate the cramps.
- Say No. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. I know I said to try a glass of your favorite tipple to ease the pains, but everyone is different—in some cases, alcohol can help, and in others, it will make the problem worse. You have to do what works for you.
- Meditation. Try meditation to control the pain and mentally 'switch it off'. In other words, talk to your brain and tell it what to do.
- Go Bananas. Eat plenty of bananas for their vitamin B6 content.
- A Pineapple Doesn't Hurt, Either. Eat fresh pineapples for their bromelain content. Bromelain is an enzyme thought to help relax muscles and therefore possibly help with menstrual cramps.
- Drink Up. Keep your fluid intake up, and drink plenty of water (approx 2 liters per day).
- Take Herbal Teas. There are many varieties for you to choose from. Popular choices include chamomile, valerian, raspberry leaf, peppermint, hibiscus (red tea), and red raspberry.
- Say No to Tampons. Avoid tampons, and try to use sanitary towels instead. This avoids pressure being placed on the cervix as the tampon swells up.
- Magnesium Tablets. Invest in some magnesium tablets from your local health food shop. The correct dose is between 100 and 200mg taken every two hours, but for no longer than two days. It is sold as magnesium chelate. 500mg of magnesium chelate contains 100mg of magnesium. You can ingest magnesium through your diet as well by eating more green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole-grain foods.
- Vitamin E. Vitamin E is also very helpful if taken for a couple of days prior to your period starting and also for the first few days of your period. Apparently, it is especially effective for teenagers with painful periods. In some cases, it may also make your periods lighter than normal. According to the National Institutes of Health, the correct daily dose is 15 mg (or 22.4 IU) of natural vitamin E.
- Yes to Zinc. Zinc can also be taken in tablet form. Do not exceed the recommended dosage because doing so can prevent your body absorbing copper, manganese, and molybdenum in food. Overdosing can also cause nausea, stomach irritation, and fatigue. The recommended dose for period pain is around 40mg of zinc daily for the initial month, then a lower dose of 20mg of zinc daily if it is going to be used on a long-term basis. Zinc in tablets can be labeled in different ways; essentially you will want either 220mg of ‘zinc chelate’ twice a day or 20mg of zinc (as chelate) twice a day. This will be made clear on the packaging though, so always double check before you take them.
- Chasteberry (Vitex Agnus Castus). Chasteberry helps period pain by increasing the effect of progesterone from the ovary. It is less likely to be effective if you are on the contraceptive pill. The correct dose is 1000mg taken each morning. Do not use this if you suspect you may be pregnant.
- Pernaton Gel. Pernaton gel is made from New Zealand green-lipped mussels and is a wonderful pain reliever for all sorts of different pains. The reviews on this product are amazing, and it is used extensively by people awaiting joint replacements, suffering from fibromyalgia, neck pains, and arthritis. I would strongly suggest you give this a try. Although it isn't a cheap product, a little goes a very long way.
- Iron Tablets. Most women suffer from anemia, which causes large clots and increased total blood volume. This then increases pressure on the cervix. Taking iron, especially during your period, normalizes flow so there are no clots helps lead to a lighter period with no pain as a result. This may help some who have heavy bleeding, and visitor Lyn found it especially helpful during her menopause for controlling her level of tiredness. Thanks to visitor Lyn for this tip!
Can You Eliminate Period Cramps Entirely?
I would like to point out that few things you do will completely remove discomfort or pain caused by period cramps. At best, you might be able to reduce the pain to a level that allows you to function in the workplace, school, or at home. It is also a mistake to swallow as many painkillers as you can, assume you have a serious medical problem because they don't work, and call the doctor. You first need to understand that period cramps are just cramps. A painkiller alone is fighting a losing battle because it can only smother or hide the pain—not remove the cause.
My Story With Period Pain
My own doctors failed to even suggest further investigations when I was going through menstrual pain. My years of pain could have largely been avoided if they had not made the mistake of simply taking my condition at "face value"—not to mention the results of the later investigations largely explained my infertility and how surgery could have allowed me to have a baby if I had known what was happening inside my body earlier.
What's Your Menstrual Story?
Many women simply suffer from bad period cramps and severe pain who do not have underlying problems like those I had. Any woman suffering from severe period pains should always explore all the obvious solutions before assuming her problem is as serious as mine was (or even worse). In most cases, it will most likely be a problem with pain alone. For young girls new to periods, the associated pains can be quite surprising, unfamiliar, and scary. It is worth noting that many women report the most severe period pains in the early years of their periods—these settled down as their bodies matured.
Additional Research Sources
- Endometriosis Care Centre of Australia - Herbal and Dietary Treatment for Period Pain
Dr Margaret Taylor is a General Practitioner and specialist in nutritional and herbal medicine. Her book is also available in the capsule to the right of this link.
- Why Am I Experiencing Severe Period Cramps?
If you suffer from severe period cramps, you need to read this article and see a doctor. Find out what may be causing the pain.