Menstrual Cramps: Causes & How to Relieve Them
As if that time of the month couldn't get any worse - your cramps set in. You want to stay in bed, wrapped up in your warm covers, curled into the fetal position, and hiding away from the rest of the world. We know the feeling. Unfortunately, you probably can't just hide out in bed for a few days every month. Here at the RepHreshing Truth, we want you to feel better, climb out from under your covers, and take on the day. So, we're here with the RepHreshing Truth on 4 ways to help soothe your menstrual cramps.
What Causes Menstrual Cramps?
In order to begin relieving the pain associated with menstrual cramps, we must understand what they are. The medical term for menstrual cramps is primary dysmenorrhea. Mayo Clinic defines dysmenorrhea as "throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen", caused by the contractions of your uterus, expelling its lining. Menstrual cramps affect more than an estimated 50% of women, with 15% describing their cramps as severe (MedicineNet).
Women with severe menstrual cramps may experience secondary dysmenorrhea, menstrual cramps caused by an underlying issue like endometriosis or uterine fibroids. You can learn more about secondary dysemenorrhea here, and be sure to consult your doctor if you suspect your cramps may be more serious. Women with primary dysmenorrhea can try one of the following remedies to sooth their menstrual cramps next time Aunt Flo pays a visit.
4 Tips to Soothe Cramps
- Break a Sweat
The last thing you want to do when you're crouched over with debilitating cramps is to go for a run. However, we encourage you to fight the urge to stay balled up and make a move! According to WebMD and Gustavo Rossi, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, "exercise relieves cramps because it helps release beta-endorphins, which are internal opioids - your own 'human morphine'". How great is that?
We know you're tempted to skip your usual workout that time of the month, but try to remember how great you will feel afterward! If you don't want to run or swim, try simple yoga poses like these 4 PMS Workout moves SELF Magazine recommends.
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Yes, it is an obvious one, but don't overlook it. Water really can work wonders in soothing your cramps. During the days leading up to (as well as during) your period, make sure you stay hydrated. Carry a refillable water bottle around with you and set goals to ensure you're drinking enough. You can even try a free app like Waterlogged to help keep you hydrated.
Healthline also recommends drinking warm water, such as a cup of (decaf) tea or eating water-based foods, like celery and watermelon. Relieving menstrual cramps can really be as easy as staying hydrated!
- Try a Dash of Cinnamon
There are a handful of foods, herbs, and spices that can help ease your menstrual pain. One such spice that we just can't get enough of is cinnamon! Cinnamon has been used as a digestive aid for years, and it may just soothe menstrual cramps, as it provides an "excellent source of dietary fiber, calcium, and iron, as well as magnesium, which may also help" with symptoms of menstruation (Healthline).
So sprinkle some cinnamon in your hot cocoa or try a decaf cinnamon flavored tea for a new way to soothe cramps.
- Draw a Warm Bath
Heat has the power to soothe aches, pains, and menstrual cramps by relaxing the cramping muscles in your uterus (Medical Daily). While heating pads and hot water bottles work wonders, climbing into a warm bath can really be the turning point in your menstrual cramp saga, soothing both abdominal cramps and back pains all at once! Immerse yourself in a tub of warm water, add a few drops of essential oil, and relax.
Menstrual cramps arrive once a month for many women, making it difficult for us to ignore them and hope things will be better next time around. We must be proactive with our cramps and prove to Aunt Flo that she cannot keep us down. Next time you feel your cramps starting to set in, remember this RepHreshing Truth and give one of these 4 tips a try.