Are menstrual cramps cramping your style? Here are 10 solutions to this common problem, also known as dysmenorrhea:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as diclofenac, ibuprofen and naproxen, can help relieve severe period pain. However, these drugs may cause headaches or stomach issues.
- Heat or cold therapy: Soaking in a hot bath or using a heating pad on your lower abdomen may ease menstrual cramps. Heat therapy works by relaxing the muscles of the uterus, increasing blood flow and easing pain. If a build-up of blood in your pelvis is causing your cramps, use an icepack to help draw the blood out of the pelvis and toward the extremities. Try using both hot and cold packs to see which works best for you.
- Exercise: Studies have found that physical exercise may help reduce the pain of menstrual cramps.
- Hormonal medication/therapy: Oral birth control pills contain hormones that prevent ovulation and reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. These hormones can also be delivered as an injection, a patch worn on your skin, an implant placed under your skin, a flexible ring inserted into your vagina or an intrauterine device (IUD).
- Clot-busters: Tranexamic acid is used to reduce menstrual blood loss. It’s part of a class of medications called antifibrinolytics.
- Chamomile tea: Studies have found that chamomile tea may ease muscle spasms and help fight inflammation.
- Vitamins and supplements: Vitamin D helps your body use calcium and may reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in fish oil may help lower inflammation.
- Stress reduction: Take positive steps to cut out unnecessary stress and you’ll decrease the frequency and severity of menstrual cramps.
- Diet: Reduce fat and eat more vegetables for cramp relief. Eliminate trans-fatty acids that are commonly found in commercially baked goods. Eat foods that are high in calcium such as beans, almonds and green leafy vegetables. Choose foods that are high in antioxidants, including blueberries, tomatoes, cherries, squash and bell pepper.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncturists treat menstrual pain based on an individualized assessment of the excesses and deficiencies of energy (qi) located in various meridians. These deficiencies are often detected in the liver and spleen meridians. Moxibustion (a technique in which the herb mugwort is burned over specific acupuncture points) is usually added to enhance needling treatment. Acupressure may also relieve period pain.
- American Family Physicians
- Mayo Clinic
- Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
- U.S. National Library of Medicine
To learn more about superior menstrual care, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.