When menstruating, the feeling of discomfort around the abdomen, lower back and thighs is quite common, as the muscles of the womb contract and relax constantly to help shed the built-up lining. At times, this movement of womb muscles causes cramps which range from mild to severe, depending upon the individual. More than half of menstruating women report about pain from period cramps for at least a day or two every month, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Some women may even experience headaches, nausea, or diarrhea along with it.
Doctors still haven’t been able to discover, why some women experience extreme cramps during menstruation while other don’t. However, there are certain factors that are associated with intense pain such as having heavy blood flow, just starting your period, use of birth control or having an overproduction of or sensitivity to prostaglandins (a hormone that influences womb). Other factors include conditions such as endometriosis (abnormal uterine tissue growth), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or fibromyalgia.
As menstruation is a phenomenon that occurs every month, and along with it the cramps which you all have to endure. Here are few do-it-yourself tips that can ease out your pain and also potentially lessen it during your next cycle.
Applying heat – Apply a hot water bag or a heating pad on your abdomen and lower back for fast relief. If you don’t have these take a warm bath or use a hot towel.
In 2012 study published in BMC Women’s Health that focused on menstruating women in the age group 18-30, it was found that a heat patch of 40 C was as effective as a painkiller.
Drink Tea – Drinking tea with low levels of caffeine, such as chamomile tea, ginger tea, lavender tea, green tea, lemongrass tea and many other herbal teas, can comfort your distressed muscles. Also, they can provide instant relief from the fatigue, decrease the amount of pain and re-freshen your mind.
Ginger, a wonder herb – Ginger has many health benefits, but do you know it can effectively ease menstrual cramps. Having ginger helps in lowering the levels of prostaglandins, a pain-causing hormone. Also, it helps in fighting fatigue and can also make irregular period regular.
How to have it – Grate or add dried ginger to water and boil it for 3-5 minutes, add a pinch of salt and honey to it. Drink it twice a day to soothe cramps and to keep your stomach calm.
Avoid these foods – Reducing or cutting out these foods a few days before and during menstruation can help in alleviating cramps and decrease tension. It is good to avoid food items that causes bloating and water retention. Some of them are – fatty foods, carbonated beverages, caffeine, alcohol and salty foods.
Massaging with essential oils – A massage therapy with essential oils for about 20 minutes can help reduce menstrual pain significantly. In a study by Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research that looked at period pain caused by endometriosis, it was found that massages on your abdomen, side and back can help reduce pain immediately and afterward.
In the age of advancement, when everything is a click away, technology has even found a way to “switch off” the period pain. A wearable device called “Livia” claims to work as an off-switch to menstrual pain by stimulating your nerves and blocking the pain from reaching the brain. It works on Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) technology, which transmits frequency to the nerve system that is very close to your body’s frequency. These signals reach the brain faster than pain signals, thus not giving brain the time to register pain signals.
The founder and CEO of Livia, Chen Nachum, insists on the safety of this device, that it has been tested so far on 163 women of which more than 80% reported to have successful pain relieving effects. Moreover, the company claims that this device works faster than pain medication and will eventually save tons of your money usually spent on pain killers and other medications.
Similarly, a new product and first of its kind in India, ‘Sirona’ which is also the idea of the makers of PeeBuddy has been introduced. This is a patch that can be applied to the lower back or abdomen to relieve you from some menstrual cramps stress. The patch claims to contain components such as menthol and eucalyptus oil, which helps in dilating the blood vessels, boost blood circulation and improve muscle mobility.
Dealing with period pain has become a topic for intensive research. With the evolution in technology, many similar products are being discovered, however this field still requires more research. In the meantime, the best thing would be to use the natural methods to ease out the period pain.