Health

Simple Ways To Deal With Menstrual Cramps

Shikha Batra
11 to 16 years

Created by Shikha Batra
Updated on Jul 18, 2020

Simple Ways To Deal With Menstrual Cramps
Reviewed by Expert panel

Ahh..! That monthly annoying cycle pain is back again! Sometimes it is dull while it could be extreme at other times that one could hardly get out of bed. This pain is real and uncomfortable. It is a secret of the arrival of period or menstruation, which is normal vaginal bleeding that happens as part of a woman's monthly cycle.

What a woman is experiencing is menstrual cramping or dysmenorrhea (which is the medical term for menstrual cramps) which is caused by uterine contractions and occur just before and/or during their menstrual periods. It can last for one or two to several days in some cases. This pain might also be felt during the middle of the cycle i.e. during ovulation. Menstrual cramps usually are felt in the lower abdomen. The pain may sometimes even radiate towards the lower back and upper thighs. It could sometimes be severe enough to interfere with daily activities.

What are the causes of menstrual cramping?

Menstrual cramps can be primary or secondary. Primary cramping or dysmenorrhea is the pain caused due to excess of prostaglandins which are the compounds that are released from the uterine lining as it prepares to be shed.

While secondary dysmenorrhea could be caused due to another underlying root cause such as a health condition like endometriosis which is a painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterine cavity. 

This tissue could grow on ovaries, bowel and tissues lining the pelvis. This tissue trapped in pelvis could cause many symptoms including severe pain during periods. There could be other causes for secondary dysmenorrhea as well such as adenomyosis, uterine fibroids, cervical stenosis or pelvic inflammatory disease which is an infection in the woman's reproductive organs.

What are the symptoms of menstrual cramping?

The symptoms of menstrual cramping include :

  • Throbbing or cramping pain in the lower abdomen

  • Pain in thighs and lower back

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Loose stools

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Fatigue

When should one see a doctor?

If one has painful menstrual cramps that are severe and are getting worse over time (over 2 or 3 months) it could be a red flag. Besides if it is paired with excessive bleeding, fever and suddenly feels worse and uncomfortable than what has been experienced at previous times then it's time to see your doctor. 

Ask yourself these questions and if the answer is a 'Yes', one should consider consulting a doctor-

  • Are these cramps interfering with my daily life?

  • Do they last for more than two days?

  • Do I have cramps on occasions other than during my period?

  • Have I noticed a change in how these menstrual cramps feel over time?

  • Are these cramps often accompanied by heavy bleeding or clotting? 

  • Is there no relief in pain caused by menstrual cramps from over-the-counter pain medication?

The doctor might review the medical history and perform a physical exam including a pelvic exam and/or a Pap test. They might recommend additional tests such as an ultrasound, a CT scan and a gynaecological laparoscopy to confirm a diagnosis. 

How to deal with menstrual cramping?

There are many ways that can help ease these cramps:

  • Over-the-counter pain medicines are available which can be taken only after consulting your doctor.

  • Putting a heating pad on your stomach or lower back where it is aching might give relief.

  • Regular exercise also helps in relieving pain by increasing blood circulation and easing stress.

  • Having a hot bath might relax you and give a soothing feeling by easing out stress.

  • Manage stress by doing yoga, breathing exercise and pamper yourself.

  • Take ample rest.

  • Taking a healthy diet by adding more of fibre in your diet by increasing consumption of salads and fruits might be an efficient way of dealing with bloating which is another cause for cramps.

  • Having an orgasm eases out the pain.

  • Acupressure and acupuncture using essential oils might relieve pain during cramps.

  • Take hot drinks like a cup of green tea.

  • Hormonal birth control methods such as oral contraceptives might be advised by your doctor to reduce pain.

  • Take supplements such as certain vitamins like vitamin B1 and B6, fish oil, omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, fenugreek etc.

Menstrual cramps may feel a different or unique experience for every woman. They could be a constant dull ache or occasional shooting pains or anything in between. These cramps might lessen with age for some while there may be other women who might have never experienced period cramps. The pain may stop entirely for some if a woman has a baby. While for others these cramps can get in the way of their regular activities and make this time of the month an uncomfortable one for them.

Most women are afraid to speak to their doctor about their cramps due to 'periods' being a tabooed subject. If a woman has severe menstrual cramps, a visit to the doctor is the best way to determine the exact underlying cause for the same.

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

 

 

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