Menstrual cramp relief

A healthy woman, before pregnancy, will have to deal with her period about every 28 days. This means dealing with many different symptoms, including headaches, tenderness around the breasts, swelling, fatigue, bloating, and PMS. While some women have light periods that don’t give them horrible cramps, others find themselves missing school or work because their cramps are so horrible they can’t function. With the possibility of 13 periods every year, this can result in quite an impact on a woman’s life, especially if she experiences these horrible cramps with every period.

What causes these horrible cramps? Each month, the uterus prepares itself for pregnancy by changing its inner lining, called the endometrial tissue. When no fertilized egg appears to attach itself to this lining, the lining dies and falls away. When no egg attaches to the uterus wall, it releases a substance known as prostaglandin. This tells the muscles of the uterus to cut off the blood and oxygen to the lining. The endometrial tissue then dies and the uterus’s contractions push it out of the body. Sometimes, a woman’s body starts to release high levels of leukotrienes, a chemical that causes inflammation. These leukotrienes can also contribute to menstrual cramping.

However, there are several things that can help relieve the pain of menstrual cramps and let you take back your life. One option is medication. Many women get relief from simple over the counter pain relievers like aspirin, Midol, Tylenol, or any other product that contains acetaminophen. These pain relievers can often completely handle the pain from minor cramps. Other options are nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) that use ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or ketoprofen as their active ingredient. These include Advil, Motrin, and Aleve, just to name a few brands. For stronger cramps, a doctor may prescribe a prescription NSAID such as Ponstel. Birth control taken orally may also help by adjusting your hormone levels, although you often have to take it for several months before it starts to become effective.

There are also some foods that supposedly help to relieve menstrual cramps. Some of these foods do have enzymes and other things in them that have been scientifically shown to help relieve cramps, while others are more like old wives’ tales and such. Drinking fresh pineapple juice helps because it contains the enzyme bromelaine, which helps to relax muscles. Ginger tea or even ginger snap cookies are also good because ginger has some anti-inflammatory properties and helps to block the effects of the prostaglandin. It can also help if your diet is high in the B vitamins, calcium, and zinc since all of these help to reduce cramping. It can also help to simply eat while you have cramps. This forces the body to focus more on digesting food rather than on cramping.

There are several other techniques that may help to relieve cramping in some women. Because tension and stress make cramping worse, it helps to do whatever you can to relax. This may include a warm bath or taking a nap. Lying in the fetal position may also help. For some, using the heating pad on their back or abdomen provides some relief. Finally, as counterintuitive as it may be, some women actually get relief from doing a form of low impact exercise such as swimming, walking, or doing yoga.

Because every woman’s body is a little bit different, what works for you as a menstrual cramp reliever may not work for everyone. To really discover what is effective, you will have to try out different remedies and see how they affect your cramps. Some may not help at all, while others may seem like a miracle.

Last updated on Feb 6th, 2010 and filed under Women's Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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