More than 50% of menstruating females suffer from dysmenorrhea (the fancy scientific name for menstrual cramps). Just imagine – at least 1 out of 2 young women you know experience pain almost once a month! Different females experience pain differently during their “code red”s, and although extremely severe menstrual cramps should receive medical attention, these home remedies can do the trick to alleviate some of the discomfort for the majority of dysmenorrhea-sufferers. These are natural remedies, so go ahead and try which ones work best for you!
Endorphins are your own body’s production of painkillers. Not only that, it acts as a mood lifter as well! Aerobic exercises make your body pump more blood, releasing endorphins to counteract the prostaglandins that promote cramping. Now you’re probably thinking, “I can’t even get out of bed; what do you mean exercise?” We totally understand. Once, I went for a run on my second day and came back regretting it sorely (literally, pun unintended). That’s why you should only engage in gentle/moderate exercises, like light jogging and yoga which we have already covered.
Alternatively, if you’re sexually active, you could work up an orgasm…that produces endorphins too!
In 2001, a small study published in Evidence-Based Nursing found that topically applied heat was equally effective in relieving period cramps as ibuprofen was. There are many ways to apply heat to your abdomen and back area: you could get a hot water bottle, make your own heat pack with cloth and rice, or order your own MenstruHeat to skip the hassle.
Warning: not ALL teas help with menstrual cramps. Those containing caffeine are completely not what you are working for. However, herbal and caffeine-free teas have traditionally been known to provide relief with cramps. A personal tip: you can hold your warm tea mug against your abdomen for added heated comfort in between sips, especially if you don’t have any other heat source with you at that point in time. We’ve already covered teas here, so you can source for the teas that suit you best!
Not exactly a home remedy unless you know somebody who is a certified acupuncturist, but here in Singapore it is relatively easy to find a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor near you. TCM’s philosophy is different from the western medicine school of thought, in that TCM concentrates on one’s wholeness of being. On the other hand, western medicine tends to treat illnesses in isolation, ignoring irrelevant symptoms. Though both has its merits, it could also possibly mean that TCM may be a more wholesome and effective choice of remedy for dysmenorrhea, given that premenstrual symptoms can manifest in many other symptoms other than cramps. You can read up on TCM remedies for menstrual cramps here. Acupuncture in particular is thought to relax your nervous system, so why not give this a try one day?
5. Diet Changes
Watching your diet could be the simplest yet hardest remedy (ahem, logical thinking VS. cravings and changes to appetite). There are so many lists out there of foods you should or shouldn’t take while on your period, but here are some of the easier to remember ones that are also easier to get in any common grocery store.
Firstly, you should take more calcium. Common sources of calcium include dairy products, sesame seeds, almonds and leafy green vegetables. Though take note, dairy products may aggravate other period symptoms, especially diarrhea. So be careful and choose your foods according to your own needs! Other things that are good for you are cinnamon and ginger.
Secondly, avoid certain foods as well. To me, anything that is generally accepted as ‘unhealthy’ should not be consumed, in particular: caffeine, fatty foods, carbonated drinks and alcohol. If you’re unsure, I say, stick to your gut feeling and trust it. I find that sometimes, I subconsciously have a bad feeling looking at or thinking of certain foods. Most of the time I regretted ignoring it. Better safe than sorry right?
Be free to experiment and see which ones work best for you. It is also said that these remedies are most efficient if you practice them regularly and diligently, so even though all you probably want to do is to curl in your bed and be miserable, taking the small effort to try remedies will definitely be worthwhile!