Menstrual cramps: What causes it and how to relieve the pain

Picture this, it’s that time of the month again. The days you dread, the days scarier than nightmares. Ladies, if we haven’t been clear enough, we are talking about periods. Are you familiar with the struggle? Those constant mood swings, nausea, constant hunger and the worst of them all, menstrual cramps.

All of us experience menstrual cramps. However, the intensity differs. While it’s not much of a discomfort for some women, it’s no less than the pain of bones being broken all at once. If you fall in the second category, you have our sympathies.

But have you ever wondered what causes that severe menstrual pain? You can explain periods, but what about the cramps that come with it? Well, we will be telling you all about them in a while. We will be also offering tips that can help you ease those cramps.

So let’s get started, shall we?

What causes period pain?

You must know that periods are caused when the uterus lining prepared to nourish the fertilized egg sheds. Along with it, the blood and tissues also get released.

Please note that this process of shedding requires the muscles and the blood vessels to contract. This contraction can cause severe pain in the back and lower abdomen.

As mentioned before, the intensity of pain differs from woman to woman. Higher levels of prostaglandins often cause more severe menstrual cramps. Prostaglandins are hormonelike agents (prostaglandins) involved in pain and inflammation that trigger the uterine muscle contractions.

To put it simply, women who experience severe pain have stronger uterine contractions than other women.  In the occurrence of strong uterine contractions, the blood supply to the uterus is shut down for a while, depriving the muscles of the uterus of oxygen, and ultimately causing pain. 

Although period cramps are natural, they can also point to certain medical conditions such as endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease. Endometriosis can cause fertility problems as well. Pelvic inflammatory disease can scar the fallopian tubes, increasing the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, wherein the fertilized egg implants outside your uterus. Other risk factors that can cause severe cramps also include the use of an intrauterine device (IUD), uterine fibroid tumour, and sexually transmitted diseases.

How to ease menstrual cramps?

Exercise

Exercise may be the last thing you would want to do when you are too tired and in pain to get up. But just so you know exercising can help with period cramps. Consider exercising your body’s natural pain reliever. It releases endorphins which help block the perception of pain. A quick 10-minute cardio may do the trick if you don’t have any medicines nearby.

A heating pad

A heating pad is a godsend for menstrual cramps. It can relax the muscles that contract during periods, easing the pain. So, if you haven’t already tried it, consider applying heat to your back or abdomen, wherever you feel the pain. You can also use heating patches in cases you are looking for on-the-go pain relievers.

Enjoy herbal teas

If you are a coffee person who hasn’t really enjoyed the benefits of drinking herbal teas, this is your excuse to welcome herbal teas into your life. Some herbal teas come with antibacterial properties that reduce muscle contractions in the uterus that are responsible for the painful cramps.

Consider drinking ginger, fennel and chamomile teas as they are rich in anti-inflammatory properties.

Consume anti-inflammatory food

Turns out, there are some food items that can help with menstrual cramps. These include berries, tomatoes, pineapples and certain spices such as ginger, garlic and turmeric. These foods can promote blood flow and relax the muscles that contract.

Massage therapy

Massages and spa sessions already feel heavenly. If you are somebody who goes for massage sessions once in a while, this is your excuse to take more sessions. As per research, massages can reduce uterine spasms, helping with period pain. It’s best to go for massage therapy in the abdominal area. But feel free to get a full body massage to get added perks.

Closing thoughts

Understanding the causes of menstrual cramps and knowing how to effectively relieve the pain is crucial for women’s well-being. While these cramps can be uncomfortable and disruptive, the good news is that various methods, from lifestyle changes and over-the-counter remedies to medical interventions, are available to help manage the discomfort. By staying informed and seeking appropriate solutions, women can navigate their menstrual cycles with greater ease and comfort, ensuring that this natural bodily process does not impede their daily lives or overall health.

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