Immediate & Long Term Period Pain ReliefJun 18, 2019
Every woman should know how to stop period pain.
Imagine if when you started menses as a young woman, you were given a booklet labelled “How to prevent period cramps before they start”. Or a kit full of natural remedies and instructions on using them to stop period pain.
Sounds amazing doesn't it?! Do you think we could make this booklet and kit part of Sex-Ed in school?! One day maybe.
You’re here because you obviously suffer from menstrual pain. But is it regular period pain or something more?
What is ‘normal’ period pain?
There are 2 different kinds of period pain, which I’ll get to in a minute. But first I want to discuss the term ‘normal period pain’.
The thing is, it's actually not normal to have period pain. Yes, it's extremely common, but not normal.
Think about it....there's no way a natural body process was designed to be painful (The Universe isn’t that mean!)
Pain is our body telling us something is wrong. Depending on the type of period pain you have, it might be something you can fix through diet and supplements, or it might be something more serious.
Types of period pain
Primary Dysmenorrhea aka 'normal' period pain
This is when you experience some cramping in your lower pelvis or lower back during the first 1-2 days of your period.
These kind of period cramps don’t affect your daily life, they go away with Ibuprofen and can usually be eliminated altogether with the right diet and supplements.
This kind of period pain is caused by your body producing prostaglandins which cause your uterus to contract.
Secondary Dysmenorrhea aka severe period pain
This is pain caused by an underlying medical condition.
It can be a throbbing, burning or stabbing pain and it interferes with your daily life. It can last for several days around your period or you may experience it randomly.
Ibuprofen doesn’t relieve it and sometimes it can be so bad you vomit.
I’ve had this kind of pain. It's horrible. I used to genuinely think I was going to pass out because it was so intense.
Can you relate? If this sounds like you, it's best you make a GP appointment so you can find the underlaying cause.
LONG TERM PERIOD PAIN RELIEF
If you need relief right now, feel free to skip to the bottom of the post for instant period pain relief. But make sure you come back and read the rest of the article, otherwise your pain will be back next month, and the month after that…
No matter which pain you’re suffering from, below are a bunch of amazing natural remedies (backed by science of course!) you can utilise to make your period easier.
Surprise surprise, diet is first on the list! #foodismedicine
1. Remove dairy from your diet
Cows milk has a protein in it called A1 Casein and its highly reactive for some people.
When it's digested, it becomes a protein fragment called Casomorphin which causes inflammation and high histamine levels.
Removing dairy from your diet is one of the best ways to reduce your period pain, especially long term.
Experiment with removing nightshades as well
Reducing inflammation in your body is key to reducing pain. If you are one of the many women negatively affected by nightshades, consuming these will be contributing to your period pain.
2. Balance your omega 3 to omega 6 intake
One of the best things you can do to help with period pain is to increase your omega 3 fats and decrease your omega 6's.
I explain why this is so important in this post and I also cover how to pick the best supplements if you're not a big fish eater!
3. Make some adjustments in the week before your period
One week before your period and during your bleed, don’t consume caffeine, sugar or alcohol. You’ll be quite amazed at the difference you feel by eliminating these 3 things from your diet during this time.
Why sugar and alcohol need to go
They are both highly inflammatory and this is a key driver of period pain.
Plus they both negatively affect your mood due to the ‘come down’. A low mood can increase stress and this will also lead to worse period pain.
Why coffee needs to go too
Caffeine constricts your blood vessels and promotes dehydration.
Plus, our liver produces the enzyme CYP1A2 which is responsible for breaking caffeine down. This same enzyme is used in the breakdown of excess estrogen.
The issue is, only a very small number of women actually produce sufficient levels of CYP1A2. So when you’re body is using this precious enzyme to break down caffeine, it leaves very little to break down estrogen.
A sluggish liver and too much estrogen in comparison to progesterone are both big factors in period pain
...Ditching caffeine is worth it.
4. Increase your mineral intake
Ensuring you have enough key minerals in your body will not only help reduce or eliminate your period pain in the long term, but its also effective for providing short term pain relief
Magnesium – Remember how ‘normal’ period pain is caused by prostaglandins? Well if you have in your body, this will reduce the amount of prostaglandins produced, which means less pain.
Consider 300mg of magnesium daily to keep your levels up and you can use extra magnesium during your period to relieve cramps. If you get the runs, you’ve taken too much!
Zinc - Star mineral number 2 is zinc. Human studies show that a daily does of 30mg taken for the 4 days prior to your period, essentially stopped painful periods. Its believed to work by reducing prostaglandins and improving circulation to your uterus.
5. Consider the power of herbs & spices
Tumeric - This double blind, placebo controlled trial (aka the gold standard of clinical trials) shows that turmeric is an effective way to reduce your period symptoms.
Specifically, the main polyphenol in turmeric, called curcumin, can increase your brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a hormone in your nervous system which is known to be reduced in women who suffer from various pre menstrual symptoms including period cramps.
Curcumin is a also potent anti-inflammatory so its a double win.
Fennel - Multiple studies have shown that fennel extract is as effective as NSAID (ie Ibuprofen) at relieving period pain. Thanks Mother Nature!
Just keep in mind that herbal medicine is powerful stuff and needs to be respected.....because fennel is antispasmotic and relaxes your muscles, it can cause heavy periods for some women. If you have a history of excess bleeding, speak to a Herbalist before trying this.
SHORT TERM PERIOD PAIN RELIEF
"I need instant period pain relief. Like, an hour ago!"
I know what it feels like to be desperate for relief...below are the things you can do to relieve period cramps fast.
Note - These are quick fixes that will assist you now, but won’t stop the pain from coming back. You need to go back and look at the long term advice above if you want to know how to actually stop your period pain from coming back every month.
Quick fix #1 - Have an orgasm
Yep you read that right sister.
Here’s the deal, scientists haven’t really researched the link between orgasms and period pain relief (yet) but it makes absolute sense:
During sexual arousal, blood flow and circulation increase.
Then after an orgasm:
- The muscles in your uterus relax
- Your body is flooded with oxytocin, the feel good hormone
- You have a higher pain threshold
Amazing! Bub-bye cramps. I can personally attest that an orgasm works a treat if you need to relieve common period pain.
But wait, I have to tell you that unfortunately, for a small number of women, an orgasm can lead to stronger cramps. So proceed at your own risk (and pleasure)...
Quick fix #2 – Apply heat
This can be in the form of a good old fashioned hot water bottle, a heat pack you warm in the microwave or a warm bath (add some Epsom salts for extra relief).
Quick fix #3 – Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
It’s a device you stick onto your skin and it releases a current that essentially distracts your nerves so you don’t feel pain!
This one is very popular and is designed specifically for period pain.
Or there are plenty of cheaper ones on the market, but they are more clunky and less practical for work/school.
FYI - I've never tried these devices so can't give you any personal feedback. If you've used one, I would LOVE to hear about your experience in the comments below.
Quick fix #4 – Ibuprofen
Ibuprofen (such as Advil or Nurofen) act directly on the prostaglandins that cause your period pain.
Paracetamol isn't as effective for this type of pain so keep some ibuprofen handy for when you're really struggling with period pain.
Just keep in mind that it's not going to fix anything, it only masks the pain.
What about if it's not ‘normal’ period pain?
If you have an underlying health issue, you can certainly try all of the above methods to relieve your period cramps, but they are unlikely to provide the level of pain relief you’re looking for.
If your period pain is the severe kind I described at the beginning of this article, you may be one of the 1 in 10 women who suffer from Endometriosis. This is a whole body inflammatory disease.
If you want to learn more about Endometriosis, you might be interested to watch the film Endo What?
Endometriosis is an underlying cause of severe and debilitating period pain. I highly recommend you work with a professional if you think this might be you. If you need more guidance, book a call with me here.
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