6 Ways to Relieve Period Cramps

By Alice Bassett
Joel Taylor
Edited by Joel Taylor

Published April 30, 2022.

Woman lying in bed grimacing and clutching stomach

Most 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:

  • Nuts
  • Leafy greens
  • Avocados
  • Cinnamon (though a spice, not a food)
  • Tomatoes
  • Blueberries

Foods/Drink to avoid include:

  • Chocolate (contrary to popular belief)
  • Coffee
  • Red meat
  • Intense 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.