Period pain (or dysmenorrhea) can have a negative impact on women’s wellbeing during their period. This can affect your routine and your ability to regulate emotions or to function properly in your day-to-day life. If you suffer from strong pain that impacts your normal rhythm, it might be useful to see a specialist or to try some home remedies to make your days a bit more pleasant each month.
If you decide to see a specialist, it is very likely they will give you painkillers (something like paracetamol or codeine-depending on the gravity of the situation) or birth control pills. Painkillers have the role to reduce inflammation in the body. They inhibit the production of prostaglandins and can relieve period pain in that way. However, although they do not have significant negative consequences for your health, there is always the risk that you will become addicted to them. In long term, you will have to increase the intake amount in order to see a reduction of pain.
Similarly, if you are advised to go with the birth control pills, personally I do not recommend them as they can have serious negative effects on your body functioning. Not to add they should not be used for treating period cramps. It is not the objective of this article to go into the pros and cons of the birth control pills, but if you are interested, check my previous article on what birth control pills are and their side effects.
If you consider that before seeing a specialist you would prefer trying something at home, I will recommend below my own home remedies that work for me and that are also scientifically proven.
1. Mindfulness practice
In my first day the pain is usually quite strong. So this is the day when I mostly want everyone to leave me alone and to not ask me anything difficult to do. I am less capable of concentrating and solving problems and all I really want is to be in my lovely home, having the time for myself. In that day, when I see that the pain is becoming unbearable, I usually go for short sessions of meditation. Just tap on Youtube “meditation to relieve menstrual pain” and you will find plenty of nice videos. I personally prefer not to recommend a particular one because perhaps we don’t all resonate with the same voice, but there will definitely be one for you. Doing a 10 minutes session, two or three times a day it really helps me relieve the pain and feel better.
2. Healthy diet
Sugar or generally junk food is definitely something we shouldn’t have if we suffer from dysmenorrhea. Sugar and processed food are inflammatory foods. This means they will accentuate the pain and make it worse for us. I know that some of us are very tempted to reach for comfort food during our period, but this will not help us if we have pain. However, the typical veggies, fruits and healthy proteins will help us feel better. Also:
- vitamin D, E
These are important for the normal functioning of our body and are proven to help reduce menstrual pain. You can check their level by undertaking a blood test and consult your GP before starting their administration. You don’t have to take them every day unless your levels are very low. Personally, I take magnesium before and during the first days of my cycle, vitamin D every day for three weeks (from autumn to spring) with a week of pause. Omega-3 I only take it from foods (I try having salmon or other omega-3 fatty foods 2-3 times a week). Lastly, the zinc and vitamin E I take them every 3 days. To ensure efficiency, do not forget to do a pause occasionally so they rest efficient for your body.
It can be difficult to take omega-3 from food only, some good supplements I sometimes use for this are: primrose and borage oil capsules.
3. Limit your stress
Something easy to say, I know. Tell me not to think of a dolphin and that’s exactly what I will think of. However, it is important to keep in mind that stress affects your body and your reproductive system implicitly. Working on limiting the level of stress and how it impacts you will ultimately influence how you perceive the pain.
4. Massage with essentials oil, such as pepper mint
Essential oils are well recognised for their health benefits. Pepper mint is particularly good at relieving pain. It also helps to:
- prevent or reduce vomiting.
- help the body eliminate mucus.
- reduce muscle spasms.
- reduce flatulence.
- promote sweating.
- stops itching
It is important to note that pepper mint essential oil has to be diluted in some carrier oil before being applied topically. So mix 2-3 drops with some oil/coconut or other carrier oils and then massage it into your skin (on your ovaries area). Try being mindful when you do it, fully present and conscious. Believing in the results and knowing why you are doing it does half of the work.
5. Boost your endorphins level
Although you are suffering, do not forget that everything depends on your perception. You might be angry or frustrated or irritated because of the pain. But this should not stop you from doing things you enjoy and that will make you feel happy and feel good at the end. If you are a sporty, maybe you cannot go running or do intensive sports but perhaps a walk could work this time. Similar with other activities. Try to not let your pain control you and what you do but instead with the pain, go ahead and do things you enjoy.
Many articles propose and refer to sexual activity as a form of pain relief, but I believe that what they actually want to say is that the more endorphins your body relieves, the better you will feel. And it’s not just sex that will help you with this. Everything that makes you happy will work.