Menstruation is often associated with symptoms, like bloating, fatigue, headache, breast tenderness, and cramps. The worst among them is menstrual cramps, which are felt in the lower abdominal area, along with a radiating pain and discomfort in the lower back and legs. This cramping (termed dysmenorrhea) is further classified into primary and secondary dysmenorrhea. While primary dysmenorrhea denotes common menstrual cramps, secondary dysmenorrhea refers to those cramps, that are caused by disorders of the reproductive organs. Primary dysmenorrhea starts shortly before the menstrual cycle or during its onset; whereas secondary dysmenorrhea can be experienced well ahead of the monthly cycle and lasts longer than the former. Most women experience only mild symptoms, but in some cases, the cramps can be severe or debilitating. While some resort to painkillers for menstrual cramp relief, others try various other methods.
Tips for Menstrual Cramp Relief
Menstrual cramps are caused by contraction and relaxation of the uterus, during menstruation. Strong contractions of the uterus compresses the nearby blood vessels and cuts off the blood supply to its muscle tissues. This causes severe pain as there is no oxygen supply to that part. Apart from use of painkillers, there are many ways to relieve menstrual cramps. Painkillers may cause side effects in the long run. So it is always better to avoid such medication. A change in the diet and lifestyle, along with some home remedies, may prove effective.
Exercises are important for maintaining the overall health of a person. The severity of menstrual cramps can be reduced or eliminated with the right exercises. Stretching exercises are highly beneficial for relief from menstrual cramps, but make sure that the stretching involves the abdomen, lower back, buttocks, upper thighs, and legs. Cycling with your legs up in the air, is said to be the best exercise for this purpose.
Lay on your back and raise your legs slowly. Bring them to your chest and hold that position for a few seconds before bringing them down slowly. Even regular walking, swimming or yoga, are found to be effective to relieve menstrual cramps. Such exercises improve the blood circulation to the pelvic region, and relieve the pain and bloating associated with menstruation.
While intake of certain food items during menstruation may help to relieve cramps, there are some foods that may worsen the symptoms and cramps. Even though it is advisable to eat healthy all the time, you have to be extra cautious about the intake of certain foods during menstruation.
- It will be beneficial to reduce the intake of salt and sugar, from the week prior to one's period.
- For some others, reducing intake of caffeine may prove effective. Avoid junk food and cold food.
- Consuming pineapple juice is another way to relieve menstrual cramps. Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which helps to relax the muscles and ease the pain.
- Try to include more calcium-rich food items in your diet. Calcium maintains muscle tone and prevent cramps.
- Ginger root is also good for relief from menstrual cramps, as it can block the action of prostaglandin, a hormone, which triggers such cramps.
- You must have a balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, fish, and chicken. If you stick to a balanced diet that provides all nutrients, the severity of menstrual cramps can be reduced to a large extent.
- Place a warm heating pad on your abdomen and back. You may also go for a warm bath, which relaxes the body and ease the pain.
- Get enough rest and go for a light massage. For some women, breathing exercises are also found to be effective.
- Others feel good by moving around, instead of lying down or sitting. Such people should try some light exercises or yoga too.
- Staying hydrated may also prove beneficial for relief from menstrual cramps. Consume fresh fruit juices, water and lots of fluid during this period.
- Avoid smoking and excess alcohol consumption. Sufficient sleep and good nutrition are also recommended.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.