Know Your Body

Science-backed articles about women's health, fertility, sex, periods, and more.
Woman lying in bed grimacing and clutching stomach
Period pain6 Ways to Relieve Period CrampsMost women will, at some point in their lives, experience period cramps whether mild or severe. There are a few lucky ones that do not experience cramps, but for most of us, this is an unavoidable monthly occurrence. Period cramps happen during the Menses phase of your cycle, as your uterus is trying to help you expel the uterine lining, so it contracts in order to help physically push it out. This can become extremely painful and manifests as either a dull ache or a constant throbbing pain. Sometimes, period cramps come coupled with other issues, such as menstrual migraines, backaches, and general fatigue, making an all-around miserable combination. Luckily, there is a lot that you can do about it. Since it is such a common occurrence, there are many tried and tested ways to help you fight your cramps. Let's unpack some of these methods. 1. OTC Pain Medication This first way is a bit obvious, but for most women, it works effectively. An over-the-counter pain killer such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can dramatically decrease your cramps. It is usually advised that you do not take these on an empty stomach. Also, make sure that you follow the recommended dosage, as some of these meds can be relatively strong. 2. Heat Heat works wonders for period cramps because of how effective it is at relaxing the muscles in your uterus. The contractions and tension of your uterus are what cause the pain, so relaxing this tension can often make it go away. There are many ways to use heat to your advantage. A hot bath You can relax in a nice hot bath, which will not only help with cramps, but the pampering experience may also serve as a general pick-me-up during this time.A heating pad This can take the form of a hot water bottle, wheat bag, or any other device that can be heated up and safely applied to your body. Place the heating pad in the area where your pain is most severe. This is usually the stomach, but you may also experience pain in your legs or lower back, so you can adjust the position of the heating pad accordingly. A hot shower This functions the same as a hot bath does, but be careful not to make the water too hot so as to burn yourself. 3. Exercise We know the last thing you want to do when experiencing cramps is to run and jump around, but light exercise can do the world of good for someone experiencing cramps. Not only does it get your blood flowing, which will reduce inflammation and pain, but it also releases happy hormones (endorphins), which are natural pain relievers. Next time you are experiencing cramps, consider going for a light jog. 4. Change Up Your Diet There are certain foods and drinks which can make your cramps worse, as well as others that can make them better. Chamomile tea is one drink that can really help you fight pain and inflammation during your period. Foods to consider are: NutsLeafy greensAvocadosCinnamon (though a spice, not a food)TomatoesBlueberries Foods/Drink to avoid include: Chocolate (contrary to popular belief)CoffeeRed meatIntense spice (like chilies)Alcohol These are only a few examples. For a more in-depth discussion, take a look at our blog on the best foods for pain relief from menstrual cramps. 5. Have an Orgasm For some women, their libido is greatly increased during their menstrual cycle—even when experiencing cramps. A vaginal orgasm can be a great way to help with period cramps. Happy chemicals such as dopamine and oxytocin are released when you orgasm, which act as natural painkillers. Blood circulation also improves around your uterus, which can help to reduce the pain. 6. Drink Lots of Water Hydration is so important, especially when you are on your period. It will help increase blood flow, which will help relieve some pain from cramps. It will also help you avoid migraines and other painful symptoms associated with period pain, which will make you feel better overall. When Should You Seek Medical Attention for Period Pain? You know your body better than anyone else. If you experience period pain that is out of the ordinary, you should consider seeing a doctor as there may be further complications. If your cramps are so severe that you cannot perform daily tasks or even move, this is a clear indication that something is wrong. It is also always better to be safe than sorry! Conditions such as endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome are big culprits of severe cramps, so it is best to see a specialist if you suspect that something is wrong. We hope that these tips can help you to find some relief when experiencing menstrual cramps and that you try some—or all—of them.
Foods you should avoid on your period
Period painBest Foods for Pain Relief From Menstrual CrampsAny woman who has experienced menstrual migraines, cramps, and bloating knows how painful and inconvenient they can be. It’s no wonder so many of us look up ways on how to reduce menstrual pain instantly. There are different types of period pain, such as: Muscle and joint painsHeadaches/migraines BloatingBreast tendernessConstipationCrampsBloatingFatigue These symptoms, such as pelvic pain during period cycles, can be debilitating and completely ruin a day, so getting rid of them is often the only way to return to a normal and productive schedule. Fortunately, mother nature provides us with many natural ways to deal with painful cramps, upper abdominal pain during menstrual cycles, and the other discomforts we have to deal with once a month. What Causes Menstrual Pain? There is more than one reason for stomach pain during periods when (and sometimes before) our menstrual cycle begins. Uterine Contractions Caused by Prostaglandins The main reason for cramps is the uterus that contracts to help expel its lining. There are hormone-like substances that are called prostaglandins that cause uterine muscle contractions. If you have high levels of prostaglandins, you’ll experience more painful cramps. Some Have Cervical Stenosis Some women are unfortunate enough that they have cervical stenosis, in which case their cervix opening is so small it impedes menstrual flow. This results in pain due to the pressure within the uterus. The Growth of Adenomyosis Another reason for intense menstrual pain can be adenomyosis. When that is the case, the tissue lining the uterus grows into its muscular walls. Is Period Pain Good or Bad? Medically speaking, period pain is neither good nor bad. It is something natural that happens to healthy women during their menstrual cycle. However, if you are experiencing severe period symptoms, you should visit your doctor for a check-up to make sure nothing is wrong with your body. Does Drinking Water Help Relieve Period Pain? Water is a great way to relieve cramps and reduce bloating. Drinking hot water can also help increase your blood flow, which helps to relax your muscles and reduce cramps. Herbal teas are a great source of water that have additional benefits, such as dealing with insomnia and relieving stress. What Foods Are High in Water Content? If you want to know how to reduce menstrual pain instantly, there isn't a quick cure, but natural treatments work almost as fast as painkillers. Water is one such cure. Several fruits and veggies are high in water content and can help you reduce your cramps. Here are a few examples of good fruits and vegetables to consider to reduce period pain at home: PeachesLettuceOrangesMelons (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon)CucumbersPineapple What Foods Should You Eat to Reduce Period Pain? Foods that help with cramps are a great way to reduce period pain at home without visiting a pharmacy or doctor. In addition to the fruits and vegetables mentioned above, there are other foods you can work into your diet to deal with menstrual pain. Eat High Fiber Foods Foods that are high in fiber do offer pain relief for women dealing with menstrual cramps, headaches, and related symptoms. Fiber is fantastic, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Here are some examples of high-fiber foods: Chia seedsRaspberries (also antispasmodic)Black BeansAvocadoApplesOats Consume Calcium-Rich Food Calcium can alleviate several PMS symptoms such as fatigue, moodiness, and cramps. Calcium-rich foods include: KaleYogurtMilkCheeseDill Munch Boron-Containing Food Boron is another natural source for combating menstrual pain and is a mineral that aids the body in absorbing calcium. It also helps to reduce the length and intensity of period pain. Foods that are a source of boron are: Peanut ButterPrunesBananasAvocadosChickpeas Add Herbs and Spices There are many spices and herbs that can help you reduce the pain associated with menstruation. Utilize the following: GingerFennelSafflowerBasil Cinnamon What Foods Should You Avoid on Your Period? Just as there are foods great for dealing with unbearable period pain, there are foods that can make the pain worse. You're better off consuming these foods in moderation or not at all. Avoid the following, if possible: SaltSugarCoffeeAlcoholOverly Spicy FoodsRed Meat If you add the ‘good foods’ mentioned here and do your best to cut out the ‘bad foods,’ you may experience a much more tolerable menstrual cycle.
Teen girl suffering period pain from menstrual cramps
Period painHow to Help Your Teen With Severe Menstrual PainsMenstrual cramps are normal in all women, but some may have severe symptoms that are abnormal and may require treatment. Severe period pain in teenage girls is not uncommon due to changing hormone levels brought on by the transition to womanhood. What Are the Symptoms of Menstrual Cramps? Dysmenorrhea, also known as period pain or menstrual pain, is signified by lower abdominal pain that can extend to the lower back and thighs. The pain can vary from a dull, continuous ache to a constant throbbing, a cramping pain, or a more intense pain and causes extreme discomfort. Menstrual cramps can start one to three days before the onset of a period. They usually peak after 24 hours and subside within two to three days. Which Teens Are at Risk for Menstrual Cramps? No one is immune from period pains; some young women just happen to experience them more severely than others. Teens are at risk for menstrual cramps if they are newly pubescent and have not started having regular periods yet. Teenagers who get their period at an early age will also be more likely to experience menstrual cramps. Young women who have long or heavy periods may have more painful period pains than their peers. Often, a family history of menstrual cramps means that your daughter is more likely to get them. What Relieves Menstrual Cramps in Teens? You can't entirely rid of period cramps. However, if your teen is struggling with menstrual cramps, there are several things you can do to help ease her painful periods. Utilize Medications Non-prescription pain relievers, including ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, taken at the prescribed dosage at the onset of period pains will help ease her pain. Prescription anti-inflammatory drugs will also help, but due to their side effects, they should only be taken when the pain is really bad. Use Contraceptives Some contracepts have been proven to minimize or relieve the pain associated with heavy periods. Birth control Taking 'the pill,' an oral birth control medication, helps relieve menstrual cramps. Birth control works by reducing the number of prostaglandins in your teen's body—the chemicals responsible for making the uterus contract. Fewer contractions mean less pain. The pill can sometimes decrease the amount of blood flow which will also reduce discomfort. The contraceptive pill can similarly reduce the symptoms of PMS. IUD An IUD, or intrauterine device, can reduce menstrual cramps and make your teenage daughter's period lighter. Because it affects hormone production, it works the same way as the contraceptive pill. Try Natural Remedies Heating Pads Using a heated pad or wrapping a warm wrap around your daughter’s abdomen can help relax her uterine muscles—the ones responsible for the period cramps. Just be careful not to apply too much heat, as this can lead to increased bleeding, which in turn will lead to more painful cramping. Correct Diet Choices Believe it or not, some foods can make your daughter’s period pains worse, and some can make her period less painful. Here's what you can do: Drink more water.Consume Salmon and other Omega-3s.Eat leafy greens like kale and spinach.Add in fruit like bananas, pineapples, and kiwi.Use Eggs.Eat Peanut butterDrink Chamomile tea.Increase magnesium-rich foods like oats and dark chocolate. What Foods Shouldn’t She Eat? Your daughter doesn’t have to cut these foods out of her diet altogether because most of them are quite healthy, but around menstruation, she could try and avoid the following: Beetroot ChocolateHoney Coffee Dairy products Could Your Child Need Surgery for Menstrual Pain? In some extreme cases, very painful menstrual cramps can be a result of endometriosis. A qualified medical professional will be the only person that can diagnose this condition. In itself, endometriosis responds well to hormone contraceptives, as we discussed earlier. Very rarely is surgery necessary for this condition in teens and young women.
Symptoms of Menstrual Migraines and Some Natural Remedies
Period painSymptoms of Menstrual Migraines and Some Natural RemediesMenstrual migraines are sparked by the changes in hormones such as progesterone and estrogen that occur during a woman’s cycle. Some women's bodies are more sensitive to fluctuating hormone levels and will experience various menstrual-related pains such as migraines. Here we will be discussing some symptoms of menstrual migraines and point out natural remedies for treatment and pain management. What Are the Symptoms of Menstrual Migraines? A menstrual migraine can start before or during a woman's period and can happen every month. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to: A dull throbbing or severe pulsing headacheSensitivity to lightNauseaFatigueDizziness If you believe you are experiencing a menstrual migraine but are unsure, it's worth keeping a diary for at least 3 menstrual cycles. This will help you discern whether your migraines are linked to your periods or not. If they are related, a diary can also help pinpoint what stage in your cycle you get a migraine. It is important to note that it is the degree of the hormone levels shift, not the change itself, that determines how severe the headaches will be. How Do You Treat Menstrual Migraines? There are many ways to treat your menstrual headaches with medications and without. The duration and treatment for menstrual migraines depend on the severity of the headache. Your symptoms may last for a few hours, but they'll likely last days. Vitamin B-2, Coenzyme Q10, and Magnesium Supplements There are other vitamins reported to treat migraine headaches. According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamins like vitamin B-2 and coenzyme Q10 may reduce the severity of migraine attacks. Further research has shown that taking daily magnesium supplements can be effective at preventing menstrual-related migraines. Magnesium oxide is most frequently used for this purpose. Home Remedies to Naturally Get Rid of Headaches Snack Frequently There are other natural ways to treat your menstrual headache without the help of hormones or supplements. Eating small and frequent snacks will keep your blood sugar levels up. Low blood sugar levels caused by missing meals or going too long without food can trigger attacks. Avoid Stress Stress has been proven to trigger migraine attacks. If this proves difficult, find ways to deal with stress, such as taking regular exercise and using relaxation strategies. Exercises like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can relax your muscles, reduce tension, and also improve headache symptoms. Less muscle tension and stress may reduce the severity of your headaches. Too little sleep is also known to make headaches worse. Try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Preventing Hormonal Headaches Take a Steady Dose of Estrogen There are ways to prevent the attacks from happening. A noticeable dip in your estrogen levels will occur before your period, and this 'dip' is thought to trigger menstrual migraines. You can prevent this by taking a steady dose of estrogen throughout your menstrual cycle. If you're already on a hormonal birth control pill, switch to a continuous dose, there are also estrogen patches and gels you can use to stabilize estrogen levels. Utilize Iron Supplements While a decline in estrogen levels is believed to cause migraines right before or during the early days of a woman's period, Iron deficiency (anemia) has been proposed to be a potential trigger of migraines that occur during the last few days of a woman's period. Taking iron supplements may help prevent these late-onset menstrual migraines. Can Medications Make Menstrual Migraines Worse? Keeping track of the onset, duration, and severity of your migraines can help you pick a path for treatment. Research does not show that pain medication used for period cramps and other PMS symptoms will help menstrual migraines. This is because period cramps and PMS are caused by different hormones. So it is possible that taking these types of medications will have little or no effect on your menstrual migraines. Every woman is different, and each migraine can have a different root cause. You need to know your migraine to be able to choose the right medication. The right medications can help you prevent and treat your pain. But natural remedies also have amazing effects and have been shown to be effective at treating migraine headaches.