Painful periods are a reality for most women. To quote the data, more than 80% of women suffer from menstrual pain of some sort. Needless to say, this means their everyday schedule gets affected every month. And isn’t that the last thing you’d want to interfere with your wedding revelries or magical days leading up to it. Thankfully, there are a few things that can be done to ease those period cramps naturally. Incorporate them into your daily routine life and experience the results for yourself!
10 Ways To Relieve Severe Period Cramps!
Increase Your Intake Of Healthy Fats & Fiber
Healthy fats and fiber intake have been linked to painful periods, heavy bleeding, and annoying PMS symptoms. A diet rich in essential fats like ghee, coconut oil or flesh, nuts, omega-3 fatty acids (walnuts, flaxseeds, fish, etc.) can regulate your hormones and lessen your period woes. Start mindlessly lathering your roti with 1-2 tsp of ghee for both your meals. And if you’re concerned with ghee perturbing your bridal weight loss goals, let us remind you that ghee is rich in CLA’s and butyric acid which can help mobilize your stubborn fat.
Fiber, too, has a direct correlation with painful periods. Here’s why! Period pain is a direct result of excess prostaglandins in a woman’s body, which is a result of excess estrogen. Balancing these hormones is crucial for pain-free periods. Extra estrogen leaves our body through urine and bowels. Fiber helps soak up the estrogen in the intestine and eliminate it from our body. Low fiber means our body can’t get rid of excess estrogen, which leads to excess prostaglandins - you get it now!
Here’s a study that proves the correlation between menstrual pain and fiber. Lots of vegetables and fruits are key to comforting periods. Include these 30 high-fiber foods in your diet on a daily basis. Generally speaking, eating a well-balanced diet with proper roti, sabzi, dal, nuts and 5-10 serving of fruits & vegetables daily will make sure your fiber intake is optimum.
Exercising and being active can help reduce the intensity of period cramps. You might have experienced less period pain during months you were more active. The intensity or the hours you put in doesn’ matter, you just have to move away from your sedentary lifestyle. For girls working on a desk job, this is absolutely essential.
Moreover, exercise increases blood flow in your body and releases happy hormones like endorphins & serotonin. In a 2018 study, researchers proved that performing the aerobic exercise (or ‘cardio’) reduced the symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea in women. The cardio sessions were done 3 times a week, for 8 weeks, each time for 30 mins. Another study showed a positive correlation between exercise and improved period experience, including reduced anxiety. Therefore, exercising and staying active is a great way to ease cramps.
Birth Control Pills
Hormonal birth control is one of the modern methods to relieve period cramps and other PMS symptoms. It’s often prescribed to women experiencing irregular periods, heavy periods, acne, endometriosis or PCOS. Birth control pills help in controlling and balancing the hormone levels by ingesting the body with an artificial level of hormones.
Many couples already use it as their contraception method. It’s generally safe to use but you can experience some side effects while starting out like chest pain, headache, and dizziness. If symptoms are severe, you should contact your GYN immediately. Also, consult your doctor before starting on a birth control pill.
Check Your BMI
Weight is always a touchy subject for women. It’s depressing, overbearing, and disconcerting. Mostly because we have been fed this social media perfect body image all the time. Don’t worry though. That’s not what you need to get a healthy BMI. You just need to make sure that your weight is in perfect balance with your height and age. You can calculate your BMI here.
A 2018 study proved that both overweight and underweight women are at a higher risk of primary dysmenorrhea than women who maintain a healthy weight over time. Reason? Well, fat levels affect your hormone levels, which can thus influence estrogen amounts in your body.
The good news is you can easily negate this factor by staying more active, eating healthy - for obese women, or including more healthy fat-rich foods and sticking to yoga, stretching - for underweight women. Once your weight balances, your menstrual cramps will lessen down on their own,
Evening Primrose Oil
A holistic approach to unbearable period cramps is evening primrose oil. Often recommended for women who experience severe or overwhelming PMS symptoms like breast soreness, leg pain, drowsiness, and irritability, EPO can also effectively regulate your cycle while alleviating cramps.
The reason why EPO works is that it’s rich in essential fatty acids that are naturally anti-inflammatory and thwarts painful cramping in the lower abdomen and back. The fats also play an essential role in women’s health and regulate hormones. Since it’s a natural approach to alleviate period cramps, it will take a few months (4-5) to start showing results.
The science on EPO is minimal but the risks are very low. However, as with everything, do speak to your regular gynecologist about it. The dosage is around 500-1000 mg of primrose oil once a day for a few months. Your doctor might recommend starting magnesium and Vitamin B-6 tablets a week before your periods along with daily EPO to boost its efficiency.
You can try a good supplement here. Read the reviews for affirmations that it indeed helps the majority of women.
Minimize Junk Foods, Sugar & Refined Carbs
A recent study concluded that a diet high in sugars, caffeine, salt, and added fat can directly contribute to increased dysmenorrhea. Women who ate snacks high in sugar, salt, and fats more had 3 to 4 times severe dysmenorrhea than those whose diets were rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats, research work added. How much better would life be with your period pain intensity reduced 3 times with just a few healthy tweaks in your diet?
Yet another study proved diets high in vegetables, fruits, fish, and milk were associated with less menstrual pain. The same study showed skipping meals and crash diet also directly contributes to severe dysmenorrhea.
‘You’re what you eat’ and so are your periods. We’d highly recommend you reduce your intake of junk foods for better period experience and a better life, in general!
Eat Foods That Fight Inflammation
It all comes down to prostaglandins. Women who suffer from severe cramps produce 8 to 13 times more prostaglandins. These hormones in surplus cause inflammation and pain. Your first plan of action should be to reduce all dietary sources of inflammation like sugars and sweetened beverages, oils, soda, red meat, and refined carbohydrates.
Next, feed your body with food sources that are anti-inflammatory. Here’s a list:
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Root Vegetables
- Ginger, garlic and onion
- Culinary herbs
- Olive Oil
- Nuts and seeds, especially chia seeds
- Moringa Powder (Purchase here)
- Dark chocolate and cocoa
Before you lash back on meditation being pseudoscience and associate it with hippie-culture, there’s actually more to the practice. Meditation and mindfulness is more about being aware of your thoughts than controlling them. (as what people usually think) Read ‘Headspace Guide To Mindfulness & Meditation’ to understand more! Even Bill Gates recommends this book along with many others - as you can see in the reviews section.
Meditation and mindfulness can be a game-changer for painful periods. Read about this woman’s experience with mediation and how it mitigated her painful cramps.
All in all, meditation and focusing on your breath lets you see the pain for what it is and not the stress associated with it. Breathing in and out also helps in relaxing muscles, thereby, lowering the pain. The best part is you can do it while lying down, although, we wouldn’t recommend lying-down meditation on a daily basis!
Get Yourself Checked
At times, deficiencies in certain nutrients like Vitamin D, Iron, etc. can lead to painful cramps and heavy periods. Vitamin D is often recommended as a common supplement to treat period pain. It is known to reduce the extra prostaglandins and balance them out. Deficiency in Vitamin D occurs mainly due to a lack of sun exposure or application of sunscreen. Only 10-15 minutes of sun on your arms and legs, a few times a week, is all you need to maintain your Vitamin D levels.
Heavy menstrual bleeding along with severe pain directly signals anemia. Get yourself checked immediately. Because losing a lot of blood would make your anemia even worse. Apart from supplements, we highly recommend you start including iron-rich foods in your diet. Supplements are just a temporary solution. A few iron-rich foods include pulses (especially masoor and moong daal), chickpeas, kidney beans, and puffed rice. Yes, your daily staple muri has 25% DV of iron in just one cup and you are obviously eating more than that during your bhelpuri binge sessions. How amazing is that?
Another essential nutrient to ease period pain is magnesium - which helps in relaxing uterine muscles. Chocolates are rich in magnesium, this is the reason why you crave them on your periods. Keep a bar of dark chocolate with you when the period onsets. It really helps. Other magnesium-rich foods are spinach, nuts, rice, oatmeal, salmon, etc.
Check With Your OB/GYN
If you are someone who suffers from dysmenorrhea or heavy flow, get an appointment fixed with your OB/GYN asap. They would be able to advise you based on your personal struggles with menstruation. At times, the pain can be due to an underlying reason like fibroids or endometriosis. A quick scan would make things clearer for you. Schedule an appointment just as your wedding is fixed so your medication has time to show results.
Even though most of the period cramps you’ll experience are benign, imagine how wonderful it would feel when your uterus wouldn’t like to kill you every month. These are some fairly easy tips to practice daily. And they truly work. Try them for yourself. You’ll surely see a difference within one month.