As a menstrual cycle runs its monthly course, a significant portion of the population has to battle painful periods symptoms. The discomfort can range from mild cramps to debilitating pain that can interfere with everyday life. While it might be prevalent, menstrual pain isn’t always discussed and treated as it should be. That’s due to a combination of factors, such as lack of resources, embarrassment, and confusion regarding what’s normal.
Fortunately, you will be better equipped to face menstrual misery each month with the correct information and proper support. Some strategies may pinpoint specific symptoms, while others take a more holistic approach to your period woes. Here are four tips for coping with period pain.
Modern medicine makes it tremendously easier to navigate menstrual discomforts. Over-the-counter medicines are an accessible and effective treatment route for many people with brutal periods. Midol and Pamprin are specifically marketed toward treating menstrual symptoms like bloating, fatigue, and cramping. OTC medicines like ibuprofen are anti-inflammatory drugs that can diminish painful period cramps, while acetaminophen can be an effective pain blocker.
While over-the-counter medicines can be beneficial, some women need prescription-strength treatments to get relief. Hormonal birth control is popular for managing painful period symptoms like heavy bleeding and cramping. Along with more consistent periods and pregnancy prevention, some options have additional benefits. For example, a combination birth control pill like Junel Fe can lighten periods, reduce period-associated pain, and help treat hormonal acne.
A healthy diet and exercise should already be a regular part of your routine, and even more so during your period. You’ll especially want to consume a diet rich in iron and anti-inflammatory foods to offset period symptoms. Options like salmon, tomatoes, and berries are packed with anti-inflammatory properties, which can alleviate cramps. To get more iron, eat lean red meat and leafy greens, which assist with blood production. In addition, citrus fruits can lessen PMS-related nausea, while chamomile tea can help relax your uterus and nerves.
Specific types of exercise can also be extra beneficial during your time of the month. For example, doing aerobic exercises in the days leading up to your period can be a lifesaver if you experience mood swings and fatigue. Walking and other light cardio are great for cardiovascular health and a good fit if Aunt Flo has you feeling low. Yoga and pilates are a fantastic fit to relax your body and mind before, during, and after your period. Regardless of your exercise plan, moving your body releases endorphins that naturally reduce pain and elevate your mood.
Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for menstrual cramps that aren’t tied to an underlying medical condition. While experiencing some discomfort during your period is usually normal, it could signal a more significant issue. Conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis can all cause excruciating periods. Many of these conditions have similar symptoms, so it can be challenging to get an initial diagnosis.
PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder among females of reproductive age. Symptoms include missed periods, excess body hair, acne, infertility, and weight gain. For pelvic inflammatory disease, common indicators are pelvic pain, heavy periods, painful urination, and discomfort during sex. PID is usually caused by sexually transmitted bacteria spreading to the uterus and other reproductive organs.
If you have endometriosis, tissues that should grow inside the uterus develop on the outside of the organ. This condition often causes heavy periods, painful sex, and fertility issues. In the case of uterine fibroids, noncancerous growths appear on the uterus that can range in size. Heavy menstruation, pelvic pressure, frequent urination, and backaches can all be linked to uterine fibroids. Talk to your doctor about whether you have any of these conditions so you can be properly diagnosed and receive treatment.
Stress does more than interfere with your mental and emotional health. The physical effects of stress can worsen period symptoms like cramping, fatigue, and mood swings. Luckily, there are multiple ways to manage your stress and make Aunt Flo’s visit more bearable. Curling up with a heating pad, a warm cup of tea, and a good book can be a centering and soothing experience. Writing out your feelings in a journal is another beneficial way to self-soothe and reduce anxiety as you pour it onto the page.
Relaxation techniques like breathwork and meditation can be tremendously calming and centering whenever you feel off balance. Regular exercise, especially mindful practices like yoga, can relieve stressful thoughts and boost your endorphins. You also shouldn’t forget to get plenty of rest and eat a healthy diet. And if you want a sweet pick-me-up, treat yourself to some dark chocolate. The anti-inflammatory properties are helpful for period pains, and the deliciousness can bring you a moment of stress-free bliss.
Periods are a natural part of life that doesn’t have to be painful. Implementing the right treatments and strategies can make managing your time of the month easier. Remember that every person’s journey through menstrual pain is different, so it may take trial and error to discover the most effective options for you. You and your period likely have many more years ahead together. Understanding your body and cycle helps create a harmony that lets you peacefully coexist.