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You are not alone if you experience period pain, also known as dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea can happen over and over again, along with the rest of the usual PMS symptoms. And for most women, this has already become part of their way of life. This gynecological condition can be so troublesome that many sufferers experience a reduced quality of life during their monthly cycle. However, there are many ways to stop Auntie Flo from overtaking one's existence. From simple heat therapy to the more advanced menstrual extraction, women now have more choices in dealing with period pain. Read on for these doable yet highly-effective tips that can help alleviate that dreaded monthly discomfort.
We all know how exercise is beneficial for our health. Yet, the importance of exercising during our period is typically underestimated. Working out provides many advantages, such as relieving menstrual cramps, boosting our mood, and giving us more energy. Intentional movement such as simple brisk walking releases endorphins which block pain receptors. These endorphins, popularly known as happy hormones, lower menstruation-related anxiety and promote a more pleasant disposition amidst the avalanche of PMS symptoms, such as fatigue and breast tenderness.
Additionally, as you exert physical effort, the heart beats faster, increasing blood flow and oxygen all over the body. As a result, you feel more energized and empowered to conquer your day. Exercise is a sure-fire way to feel better, whether specific yoga poses, brisk walking, or your regular spin class. However, keep in mind that exercising during "that time of the month" is only advisable when your flow is light to moderate.
Heat therapy is known to increase blood flow and thus ease period cramps. A heating pad can therefore provide soothing warmth to relax the uterus muscles. Make sure to avoid applying direct heat on your abdomen or sleeping on your heating pad to prevent accidents. Just before hopping into bed, you can also start warming up your body with a hot bath to gradually release the tension that has built up in your muscles during the entire day.
Caffeine in coffee worsens period pain by constricting blood vessel movement, thus contributing to more inflammation. In addition, coffee is a stimulant that does absolutely nothing to calm down your nerves or the muscles of your uterus. It can even disrupt sleep, making you feel tired and irritable.
While it is recommended to skip coffee during your period, experts suggest sipping herbal tea, specifically chamomile tea. Chamomile tea is a caffeine-free tea with antispasmodic properties that help relieve painful menstrual cramping. This mild floral-tasting herbal tea relaxes the body and mind, preparing you for a good night's sleep.
Avoid trans fats commonly found in fried foods (hello, french fries and burgers!) and in bakery items such as cakes and pastries. These fats are highly inflammatory and can even aggravate the pain during menstruation. Sugary food and drinks also promote inflammation, so better avoid these as much as you can. Instead, choose more healthful stuff such as salmon, rich in omega 3, known to reduce swelling and irritation. Green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach also have tons of nutrients (magnesium and calcium) to combat excessive uterine spasms, mainly responsible for those dreaded cramps.
Excessive levels of prostaglandins, which are responsible for uterine muscle contractions, can lead to severe period pain. Here is where NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may be beneficial.
When taken in moderation for specific situations, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and diclofenac, can do wonders in easing pain from period cramps by hindering the production of prostaglandins.
Among all the tips dealing with period pain, reducing stress might be one of the trickiest. However, with enough intentionality, ladies can take small steps, eventually leading to a significant decrease in stress and anxiety levels.
Breathing techniques are easy to follow and can be done anytime and anywhere, such as the 5-5-5 method. To do the latter, simply breathe in slowly through your nose for five seconds. Then breathe out slowly for five seconds (through your nose or mouth). Next, wait for another 5 seconds, and then do the same process thrice up to 1 minute.
Also, can ladies not sweat the small stuff? Easier said than done, right? Yet, choosing your battles wisely fosters harmonious relationships and promotes good health and general well-being.
In this day and age where women can be anything they want to be, period pain should not keep any of you from becoming your best selves. With proper exercise, the right food, good sleep, and intentional stress reduction techniques, you’ll soon be able to manage your dysmenorrhea better and regain control of your lives.
Sarwat Makkani, MD
Yanelquis Torres, MD
Fabiola Baptiste, NP
Karen Matta Toomey
Raga Mohamed Ali Osman
Sipra Talvikki Autio