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Mar 15 2017
by Nicole Molinari

7 Ways to Deal With Menstrual Cramps

By Nicole Molinari - Mar 15 2017

This one is for the ladies. We've all (unfortunately) had cramps and they are nothing but a pain — figuratively and literally. Being such a widespread problem, it's surprising that not every woman is aware of what she can do to minimize her pain. In fact, some people just tread through their day, completely unaware of how they can manage their cramps. Fortunately, Fresh U is here to change that. Here are seven ways you can deal with your menstrual cramps.

1. Improve your diet.

Many people often resort to quick fixes for any type of pain. While they’re not necessarily bad, they often don’t deal with the root cause of the problem, allowing issues to continue in the future. To effectively deal with menstrual cramps, avoid consuming large amounts of alcohol, caffeine, salt and carbonated beverages. Increase your intake of vegetables and herbs. It’s also important to reduce your fat intake, and try to get 25-35 percent of your fats from fish, nuts and vegetable oils.

2. Safe painkillers.

Menstrual cramps often occur due to the release of a substance called prostaglandin, so painkillers can regulate your body’s production of prostaglandin. Please remember to consult with your doctor before trying any kind of medicine. It’s important to be aware of all your options and know how strong you want your medicine to be. Never forget that all medicines come with side effects, and for some people the potential side effects aren’t worth it.

3. Massage with essential oils.

Use oils like lavender, clary sage, cinnamon or marjoram, and dilute them to a three percent concentration. Massaging any areas of pain with these oils can help remove pain almost instantly. Healthline recommends using a mixture of a few essential oils, and massaging your abdomen with them once per day, for about one week before starting your period. If you have a reaction to any of the oils, stop using it.

4. Drink herbal teas.

Though there isn’t much research to back this idea up, it’s a tried and true method for many. Specifically, chamomile tea can boost anti-inflammatories in your body, which helps to regulate prostaglandin. Beware that some herbs can act like estrogens, so it’s important to check with your doctor before you decide to start drinking tea to offset your cramps. It's recommended that you begin drinking the tea about a week before you expect your period.

5. Apply heat.

While this may seem like a given, the science behind it proves that heat really is effective. Using a heating pad or a hot water bottle, you’ll relax your contracting muscles. When applied to the area of pain, your body’s heat receptors turn on, blocking the effect of chemical messengers that cause the pain. This only provides temporary relief, so it’s recommended that women use heat in addition to making a long-term change.

6. Consume enough Vitamin D.

In an interesting study, it was found that high doses of D3 led to significant reductions in menstrual cramps. In fact, it was reported that women’s pain dropped by 41 percent. That’s insane! Consult with your doctor or nutritionist about ways you can increase your Vitamin D consumption if you currently aren’t meeting it. There are foods you can consume to naturally give you a boost, but some people may require supplements to meet these needs.

7. Exercise. 

This sounds crazy, so I just want to clarify that I am not asking you to exercise when you already feel awful. Exercise can drastically reduce your pain in the long run, so much that the endorphins your body releases could be enough to eliminate the need for painkillers. Yoga has been identified as an effective, yet gentle exercise to help women who suffer from menstrual cramps. Poses that are most likely to help you are cat, fish and cobra. 

There you have it — seven tried and true ways of dealing with your cramps.  Some will be more effective than others depending on you and your body. Be sure to consult with your doctor before trying anything with potential side effects. Next time mother nature rolls around for her monthly stroll, try a few of these things and see what works best for you.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Nicole Molinari - Wilfrid Laurier University

Nicole is a sophomore at Wilfrid Laurier University who is pursuing a major in business administration and a minor in writing. She loves working part time as a lifeguard, and in her spare time she enjoys reading and making memories with friends. A victim of late night syndrome, she knows she needs more sleep but wouldn't want to live her life any other way.

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