Almost half the menstruating women experience pain and discomfort especially in the first three days of periods. Muscle contraction and relaxation causes shedding of the uterine wall lining during periods and expels it as menstrual flow. These contractions sometimes result in cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, abdominal pain, bloating and fatigue.
Menstrual cramps and abdominal discomfort can even disturb your daily routine and quality of life. Woman’s Era, in collaboration with everteen, the complete feminine hygiene expert, brings to you seven ways to cope with the pain and reduce the discomfort substantially:
USE HEATING PADS
The Journal of Physiotherapy asserts that heat has great potential to provide relief from period pain. It increases blood flow to the tissues and helps muscles relax, thereby alleviating pain. During periods, you can use a heating pad or a hot water bottle on your back and abdomen. You can also easily create your own thermal pad at home. Just soak a towel in a bowl of warm water and squeeze it. Apply this warm towel on the affected body part for instant relief.
MASSAGE WITH ESSENTIAL OILS
According to research published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, women who use essential oils to massage their lower abdomen experienced lesser period pain and for shorter durations as compared to women who used fragrant synthetic creams. A massage with hot essential oils like lavender, marjoram, and sage oil provides comfort to the aching area and tones down cramps.
KEEP YOUR GIRLY BITS EXTRA CLEAN DURING PERIODS
No matter which sanitary product you use to manage period flow, a pool down there can be a breeding ground for microbes, which can aggravate pain. Every time you change your sanitary essentials or take a pee, make sure you clean your vaginal area with a feminine intimate wash that maintains the natural pH balance of your vagina. While stepping outdoors, tuck in a few intimate hygiene wipes in your handbag, so you stay protected even if you need to use public toilets in malls, cinemas or offices. Never clean your intimate area from back to front, so that anal germs will not get wiped into your bikini line area. If you use a menstrual cup, make sure you empty it every 6 hours, even though it is capable of holding fluid for 8-10 hours. Replace tampons or sanitary pads every 4-6 hours.
SIP HERBAL TEAS
Naturally fragrant teas have pain relaxing properties and have been used traditionally for providing relief from menstrual symptoms. Teas such as turmeric, ginger, chamomile, fennel and red raspberry leaf are not only delicious but also ease cramps in menstruation. Ginger provides pain relief and treats nausea and upset stomach accompanying periods. Turmeric has anti-spasmodic properties and alleviates cramping. Fennel, chamomile and red raspberry leaf also help relieve cramping and pain.
WATCH WHAT YOU EAT
Research published in PubMed shows that ‘reducing the fat and increasing the vegetables in the diet helps ease monthly cramps’. Dr Aldo Palmieri, an obstetrician-gynaecologist at UCLA Health, has confirmed that low-fat diets decrease the levels of inflammation in the body, which can, in turn, lessen the intensity of period pain. A study by National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world’s largest biomedical library, and National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the world’s foremost medical research centres, has shown that fennel (saunf) can help fight menstrual cramps. A diet with high fibres and plant-based foods is also helpful in relieving period cramps. Stay away from too much caffeine, alcohol or salty food. Increase intake of food items like brown rice and flaxseeds to reduce swelling and inflammation, green leafy vegetables to provide iron content lost during periods, and fruits such as avocados and bananas to ease cramps.
TRY ACUPUNCTURE OR ACUPRESSURE
Acupuncture helps relax the nervous system and improves the blood flow to various organs. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect. A study at Western Sydney University in Australia found that women undergoing acupuncture in frequent sessions experienced notable improvements in decreasing intensity of period pain and related symptoms. A research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology cited that acupressure helps in significantly reducing period pains.
Exercises like walking or other mild physical activity can help lessen your menstrual pain. Doing aerobics increases blood circulation that lowers levels of prostaglandins in your system. This, in turn, reduces the period cramps. You can also try yoga asanas like head to knee stretch, wide angle forward bend, and reclined bound angle.
So, when your Aunt Flo visits you next month, don’t let her bring unwanted intruders like pain and cramps in as well. Stock up on herbal teas and adopt easy lifestyle changes to stay fighting fit even during periods.
If you know of any other time-tested ways to manage period discomfort, do share in the comments section below.