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9 Ways to relieve period cramps


So last week, a friend of mine in Port Harcourt nearly broke up with his girlfriend. What was the problem? Menstrual cramps. She had been going through a bit of a rough period at that time of the month (puns intended) and he was not there to properly “comfort her”. As a result, she threatened to break up with his uncaring behind. Long story short, they are back together. Moral of the story, not being there during menstrual cramps is a “break-upable” offence.

For some people, menstrual cramps may seem like a small reason to warrant a breakup. I mean, it’s just cramps right? But like it has been said:

“It’s like an injury someone is piercing a knife into, which is allowed to heal for a few minutes, then pierced again”

Menstrual cramps can be really painful and so it is important to learn how to deal with them effectively. This post lists some of the most effective ways of dealing with menstrual cramps.

First off, what exactly are menstrual cramps?

Menstrual cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea is the pulsing pain that usually occurs during menstruation periods. While menstrual pains can sometimes be slight, 15% of women say the menstrual pain they experience is severe. Menstrual pain can be classified into two kinds:

Primary dysmenorrhea: this is the more common one. It usually, begins 1-2 days before the period and lasts about 2-4 days. These cramps affect the lower abdomen and lower back.

Secondary dysmenorrhea: similar to the above, this pain is however caused by some medical issues such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids and pelvic inflammatory disease. Secondary dysmenorrhea is usually associated with the more severe menstrual cramps.

Women who usually have severe menstrual cramps are thus advised to seek medical attention to determine the cause of the pain.

Causes of menstrual cramps

When there is no sperm to fertilize the egg of the woman, the uterus contracts repeatedly to expel the egg and the lining of the uterus out of the body. These contractions inhibit blood flow to the lining of the uterus and are accompanied by the release of prostaglandins which are associated with pain. The repeated contractions result in menstrual cramps.

So, how do we deal with them?

You can take a painkiller

Whoever told you taking Felvin, Ibuprofen and other painkillers during your period is wrong, obviously did not do you a good deed. Research has shown that MODERATE (yeah, you saw that) use of a painkiller (especially the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory kind) can really ease your menstrual cramps. The reason is simple: menstrual cramps are caused by prostaglandin release and these drugs help to lower the amount of prostaglandins. Efficient eh?

Pop some contraceptives

Birth control pills may actually have been sent from medical heaven. Not only do they prevent unwanted babies, but they have actually been shown to reduce menstrual pain too. Note however that some women show side effects to contraceptives, like spotting, breast tenderness, nausea and even low sex drive.

Improve your diet

Eating food low in fat and high in vegetable content can ease the pain of menstrual cramps, according to a University of California professor. So, stock up on the veggies and carrots, and stop, for the lord’s sake, eating heavy fat food. Healthy fats from fish, nuts and vegetable oils are alright though.

Other things to avoid include: Large sugar contents, alcohol, caffeine (including coffee, cola nuts and carbonated soft drinks). Caffeine will make your uterus vessels tighter and make it harder to push the blood out, which will make your cramps a lot more painful. If you cannot avoid these things totally, at least try to cut down during the week of your period and observe for differences.

Drink a tea

I didn’t say slimming tea. However, some herbal teas have been shown to have an effect on the cramps felt during menstruation. Raspberry leaf tea, Chamomile tea, your basic ‘Lipton’ tea with peppermint oil, etc. I think this might be one of those times to hit up mama in the village for a good recipe.

Using a heated pad/bottle

This is one of the oldest and most effective ways of reducing the pain of menstrual cramps. Using these is as simple as placing the patch/pad or the hot water bottle over your abdomen. You can get a heated patch or a hot water bottle online. If you cannot afford to get a hot water bottle or heated patch, a simple trick is to get an old sock and fill it up with rice. Then take the filled sock and place in the microwave. Microwaving the sock will give you a makeshift heated patch that can last for one hour. Be careful not to place the pad immediately on your skin though, because it will be really hot.

Fish oil, Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin B1 supplements

Magnesium and calcium tablets (about 500mg magnesium and 1000mg calcium taken daily) have been shown to aid muscle relaxation and aid in reducing menstrual cramps. A research published in the Global Journal of Health Science also showed that 240 teenagers who usually suffered severe menstrual cramps, found their pains greatly reduced after they consumed 100mg a day of Vitamin B1 and 500mg a day of fish oil supplements. So, you could try that too.

Massaging with essential oils

While on the topic of spas and beauty parlours, another study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gyneacology research showed that 48 women with menstrual cramps showed relief when they were massaged on their lower abdomen with some essential oils. So, why not head to your closest spa and book a massage for that time of the month. Or you could shop online for some essential oils and get your partner to do it for you.

Acupuncture

A lot of us are really suspicious and skeptical of acupuncture , but the benefits can be really astounding. Experts have shown ability to reduce painful cramps by relaxing the nervous system through acupuncture needles. So, why not head to your closest beauty parlour or spa, there are several in Port Harcourt, where you could find a licensed and skilled acupuncturist.

Have an orgasm or a workout

Endorphins are natural hormones that function as stress and pain relievers, and trust me there is nothing more stressful than a fully burgeoning menstrual cramp. Endorphins are released especially during an orgasm and also after a workout, stretch or aerobic workout. Since during cramps, the last thing that may cross your mind will be a workout, you can settle for the more exciting and equally satisfying orgasm.

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