Around 40 percent of women go through crippling cramps that put a break on normal functionality during their menstrual cycle.The culprit is usually increased production of prostaglandins, a hormone-like substance that can cause intense uterine contractions. For many women, cramps and bloating are the most uncomfortable parts of a menstrual period.
Make these 10 simple lifestyle changes around that time of the month to relieve menstrual pain and have a smooth, cramp-free period.
1. Pop a calcium, vitamin D and magnesium supplement
This helps curb PMS. Calcium along with vitamin D also relaxes your muscles. During the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle, magnesium levels drop, which can contribute to water retention, cramping, headaches, and an oversensitive nervous system. Getting 320 milligrams (mg) of the mineral a day could help counter these problems.
Try this yoga pose. A couple days before the onset of your period, do the bow pose once in a day. The body’s pressure on the abdomen positively stimulates the organs of digestion and reproduction, which helps to relieve constipation and menstrual discomfort. Bow Pose also helps to relieve fatigue, stress, and anxiety. However, avoid this one if you have a hernia, high blood pressure or have had surgery.
Light aerobic exercise also helps to decrease the severity of cramps and increases your endorphin levels. Endorphins help the body cope with depression and physical pain.
4. Sleep it off
Sleeping will numb your pain and relax your body.
5. Use a heating pad
Applying heat to your abdomen reduces muscular spasms and provides relief.
6. Take a hot shower
Taking a hot shower soothes away the pain. Also wash the genital area well with mild soap a day before your period starts even if you normally don’t douche.
7. Eat these foods
Eating calcium-rich foods, such as milk and yogurt, along with potassium-rich banana just before and at the onset of your cycle will reduce the severity of cramps and food cravings. Banana also contains serotonin, which reduces moodiness and overeating. Salmon or a handful of almonds that contain omega-3 fatty acids also provide much needed relief from cramps and food cravings.Opt for easily digestible greens that are a rich source of calcium and iron. Chicken also provides the iron that gets depleted during this period. Avoid salty foods as they cause bloating that can lead to cramps. Eliminate foods that are baked or fried.
During menstruation, the body releases the inflammatory kind of prostaglandins. Evening primrose oil contains an omega-6 essential fatty acid, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). By interfering with the production of these prostaglandins, the GLA in evening primrose oil may help alleviate menstrual cramps. Low levels of GLA in some women during menstruation cause PMS and breast pains. Avoid if you are taking other medication, however. Other herbs like black cohosh, ginger, and sesame seeds have also proved helpful.
9. Avoid caffeine and stay hydrated
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. These stimulants will encourage your muscles to contract and cause pain. Drink warm water, coconut water or pineapple juice. Warm water is usually better for cramps, as hot liquids increase blood flow to the skin and may relax cramped muscles. Calcium-rich coconut water relieves spasms, brings relief to stomach disorders like flatulence, diarrhea and vomiting, and prevents water retention. Pineapple contains bromelain, a natural anti-inflammatory enzyme that also beats bloat.
10. Get Intimate
Sex relieves menstrual cramps. Orgasm causes a surge in the calming hormone oxytocin (a natural chemical in the body that surges before and during climax) and feel-good hormones, such as endorphins, that may ease PMS.
Of all the above, yoga is by far the most effective, followed by consuming yogurt with banana, and staying hydrated. You will be amazed at how normal your body feels. For mild cramps a heating pad is just as effective. Try what works for you and stay comfortable.
Featured photo credit: Natural ways to soothe your monthly painful cramps via flickr.com