This article goes out to all the ladies. I am taking a plunge into the right on nitty-gritty things that many women will be able to relate to: Period Pain. Period Cramps. PMS. Whatever you want to call it. The monthly pain that comes with your menstrual cycle. The ones that can bring about symptoms so severe and strong that feel like being stabbed into the stomach. Several times.
By the way, if you are not much of a reader, scroll to the bottom of the page, where I cover the topics of this blog post in video!
Menstruation and Period Pain: Still taboo?
I am inspired to this article not just because I am a woman myself, and have suffered my share of “Premenstrual syndrome” (and symptoms), but also because, in the last week, a picture of someone I am following on Instagram has caused a wide reaction on the internet.
She had covered herself in her own Menstrual blood and posted the picture to her, quite popular, account.
While there have been various reactions to the topic from all kinds of online and digital magazines, all the way up to Marie Claire, I choose to take the opportunity to normalize this topic and offer solutions to the experience.
Since after all, this is one that each of us women knows so well.
Honestly, I am quite surprised I felt to respond to the criticism I saw on the internet.
I am not a menstrual blood enthusiast. I am also not a feminist or someone who feels that the topic needs to be overly emphasized.
But neither should this topic be a reason for such controversy.
It is part of our life, and I like the attempt to introduce ways for all of us to be more comfortable with the reality that, yes, we are “losing” blood every month. And it’s no big deal.
What is it that makes this time of the month uncomfortable?
For us women, it can literally be a pain in the bum.
It requires us to take action so that we don’t leave any stains behind where we go.
It can be significantly painful, to the point that not just we are unable to act or work, but to the point where our holy body and nervous system is in pain.
Also, it can bring about mood swings, emotionality, and oversensitivity.
And if that wasn’t enought, it also can bring about reactions like blemishes or dry skin, skin irritations – as well as changes in our overall body: from retaining water to increase in the size of our boobs – plus increased sensitivity.
There is a lot to nag about. Rightly so.
For the men, of course, there is a time where he maybe needs to be more attentive to the circumstance of his partner or friend. This could mean to take care of her more or leave her alone altogether.
And of course, there are is sex. Yes or no? Is it disgusting or does it not matter? Is it something to talk about or should it be ignored?
ugh… So many things to consider – no wonder that both men and women have developed a dread for “this time of the month”.
Of course, these are extremes. It’s not always that bad. And not for everyone.
What causes period cramps?
There are different studies that explain different causes of period pain. One explanation is that the cramps actually come from the contractions that move the thick lining of our uterus out of our body.
But whether you are suffering from premenstrual symptoms or do not notice a difference while you are having your period:
You will want to take care of yourself as best you can and fell as much at ease as possible, with little pain.
Here are the top 7 tips that I have found to be most effective to relieve period pain:
Diet and Digestion
In the many years of experimenting with all kinds of different foods and diets, in relation to menstrual pain, there is one thing, that I have come to notice as crucially important: Digestion.
How much food is in your belly? When was your last bowel movement? Are you bloated?
When there is already a situation that causes us to experience cramps and cramp up even more because of the pain, it is only logical, that having a full belly that puts more pressure on our belly, will cause more pain.
The same is true for air pockets trapped in your digestive tract. Whatever it is that causes your intestines to expand, make sure to let it go.
This can mean watching your diet closely when you know you will have your period in the next few days.
Avoiding the foods that you know will leave you bloated or constipated. And eating lighter foods, foods that pass through your body more quickly.
Eat more vegetables and salad, fruit, and avoid the bread and rice that only clog up your stomach.
But what if it is already too late?
Well, if you are already constipated, I would say get yourself a juice. Add in some ginger and/or turmeric and apple. Foods that will pass through your body quickly and activate your digestion. So that your body is encouraged to activate and digest more quickly.
And if you are already bloated? Find yourself a spot where you can be by yourself – and well, let it go. If you are in real pain, any bit of air trapped in your body will cause you more pain. It’s not worth it.
This one again is very much connected to avoiding any pressure – whether it is from internal organs or through external sources. Wear a dress or skirt. Wide pants. Stay in your PJs.
But don’t squeeze into that pair of skinny jeans or even well-fitting leggings.
When you are very sensitive, you want to make sure that there is enough space between the seam and your belly.
Ideally enough so that you could put your hand in between, on your belly. Which brings me to the next point.
Hot Water Bottle
Heat is the king of healing Menstrual Cramps.
If you can, lie down on your side – Embryo position. If your pain is strong, you might naturally gravitate towards this position anyways.
Take a hot water bottle and place it anywhere that you feel is best. In my own experience, this has been sometimes on my lower belly, sometimes between my legs and sometimes on my sternum.
If you don’t have a hot water bottle available, try to keep warm in other ways. Wrap up in blankets and place your hands on your belly.
Just make sure you are not cold, because if you are cold, you will just tense up more, which causes more pain.
Hydration – Hot Drinks
Like on every normal day, it is important to stay hydrated.
However, in this case, it is especially helpful if you drink hot drinks, like teas for example. The heat of the tea will soothe you from the inside out.
It’s the same principle as with digestion and clothing: Introduce the solution both internally as well as externally. Whether it is heat or reducing pressure.
There are special herbs that we know well for their soothing properties of period cramps and PMS like for example yarrow. You can find it on many wild lawns – just make sure you know it is really it, and don’t mistake it for its evil twin the poison parsley.
You can also buy the tea finished in health food stores.
There are literally so many herbs that help with PMS, from lavender to dandelion root to more exotic tonic herbs like ashwagandha. Combinations of Chineses and other adaptogenic Tonic herbs have proven over many thousands of years to be very effective.
If you are in a lot of pain or just have the opportunity to do so rest and lying down, is probably a good idea.
I like to personally always keep very busy, so actually being forced sometimes to lie in bed and rest can be a treat – even if in disguise.
In some cultures, this time in the month is a very sacred time for the woman.
You can use it for retreat, reflection, and just plain relaxation. Enjoy it as much as you can!
This is a small and fun little trick that, surprisingly has helped me tremendously on multiple occasions.
I am speaking of natural magnets here, though others might work too.
People of talk about the healing properties of crystals and the ability to influence our mental states and physical wellbeing.
Using magnets for period pain was one of the proofs for me to see that this really works. Take a magnet or so and put it on your belly.
I guess it could be explained by the iron present in our blood, and that it works somehow in this way to sooth the pain.
I am not sure. The only thing I need to know, is that it works each time.
While I am always trying to avoid pain medication and only use it as the very last resort – whether for period pain or headaches, there are situations where there really is no other option.
If the other solutions don’t help, and the pain persists, if you can’t stay at home and need to be somewhere. Use medication.
Also, if the pain is very strong every time, be sure to see a doctor and have yourself checked out. Sometimes severe pain can also be a sign that there is something else going on. So let a professional check you up if that is the case.
What is your experience?
So these were my top 7 tips for period pain. All well tested and approved by myself. Tried and validated in my own experience.
And I have found that by using these means, the pain usually doesn’t last very long. And especially, if I look at my digestion well in advance, I often have no pain at all.
What are other means do you use? Do you have a favorite herb or other remedies that you like to use? Maybe a secret massage technique?
Let me know! I’d love to learn more and add more techniques to my repertoire! After all, all of us women are experts in this field!