Menstrual cramps can be very frustrating yet embarrassing, and to think this is something some of us have to face month after month? The thought of it becomes tiring.
Over time,we’ve all heard of helpful period hacks to reduce menstrual cramps such as exercise, medications, hot water bottles and so on.
The million dollar question is “do they always work?”
Fine, some of them do and some do not, but now, we shall be finding out how to eliminate menstrual cramps for good.
Menstruation is simply a woman’s monthly bleeding, usually referred to as period or monthlies, whichever term you use to refer to it, is fine as long as we understand what you mean.
WHY DO FEMALES HAVE TO MENSTRUATE? WHAT’S THE NEED?
As a young girl,I always wondered why ladies(females) had to waste blood(so I thought) or bleed every month. Well, till I got to find out.
To understand fully how a woman’s body is structured and organised, you could check it out here.
The uterus(womb) lining builds up before you menstruate to prepare you for pregnancy. The menstrual cycle is being controlled by hormones which are Estrogen and Progesterone.
During your menstrual cycle, these hormones make the eggs in your ovaries mature — when an egg is mature, that means it’s ready to be fertilized by a sperm cell. These hormones also make the lining of your uterus thick and spongy.
So if your egg does get fertilized, it has a nice cushy place to land and start a pregnancy. This lining is made of tissue and blood, like almost everything else inside our bodies. It has lots of nutrients to help a pregnancy grow.
About halfway through your menstrual cycle, your hormones tell one of your ovaries to release a mature egg — this is called ovulation. Most people don’t feel it when they ovulate, but some ovulation symptoms are bloating, spotting, or a little pain in your lower belly that you may only feel on one side.
Once the egg leaves your ovary, it travels through one of your fallopian tubes toward your uterus.
If pregnancy doesn’t happen, your body doesn’t need the thick lining in your uterus. Your lining breaks down, and the blood, nutrients, and tissue flow out of your body through your vagina. Voilà, it’s your period!
If you do get pregnant, your body needs the lining — that’s why your period stops during pregnancy. Your period comes back when you’re not pregnant anymore.
However, the typical menstrual cycle lasts for about 28- 35 days, this value varies amongst individuals.
SO WHAT MAKES MENSTRUAL CRAMPS TO OCCUR?
Menstrual cramps are most likely caused by too much release of prostaglandins. Now these prostaglandins (PGs) are a fundamental part of the process, but when they are released in excess, causes painful cramps.
The reason for the excess release is what may be known or not known.
So, in the case of no pathological condition being the reason for the excess release of prostaglandins (PGs), this is what happens.
The endometrial cells( cells that make up the womb) are broken down as you menstruate, and thereby releases some amounts of prostaglandins.
Normally, one of the functions of prostaglandins(PGs) is to constrict blood vessels , so when the vessels in the womb are constricted, the uterus muscle layer contracts causing painful cramps.
And this is the basis for which NSAIDS (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are given to relieve you of the pain, because these NSAIDs reduce production of prostaglandins responsible for causing this pain.
PERIOD CRAMPS AND…
• Smoking: Females that smoke are more likely to experience painful menstrual cramps.
• Sex: Research has shown that sex and orgasms can help relieve your menstrual cramps.
• Exercise: Various kinds of exercise exhibit a likelihood of easing menstrual cramps. This is so because they increase blood flow to the areas around the abdomen including the uterus.
• Stress: Either as a result of much work or perhaps emotional/mental kind of stress increases your chances of having menstrual cramps.
• Alcohol: It promotes dehydration and is linked to increasing cramps due to this.
TO LESSEN PAINFUL CRAMPS IF YOU EXPERIENCE THEM, AVOID EATING;
– Fatty foods such as doughnuts, cheese, french fries, potato chips, etc
– Refined Grains: like bread and pastries
– Salad dressings, margarine, and all kinds of cooking oils.
– Animal and dairy products like meats, egg, milk, fish, etc.
It might not be an easy journey trying to stop eating them, but by avoiding them little by little, it is certainly possible.
GETTING RELIEVED OF MENSTRUAL CRAMPS
• DRINK MORE WATER
Bloating is what causes discomfort and what makes cramps worse. So drinking water reduces/ eases bloating. If the water is hot, better for you as it increases blood flow around your body and calms your uterine muscles.
To make it easier, just in case, you don’t like plain fluids,you could begin with a glass of fruit-containing water.
• REDUCE SALT INTAKE
How is this possible you may ask? You only have to add little to whatever you’re eating, because salt encourages fluid retention which is not good in avoiding cramps.
• DIET CANNOT BE OVER-EMPHASIZED
Anti-inflammatory foods like tomatoes, pineapples, ginger and garlic, vegetables, walnuts, salmon, etc reduce inflammation by promoting blood flow in the uterus.
• DISTANCE YOURSELF FROM FRIES
Run away from french fries as said earlier , even cookies, onion rings, crackers, pasta, etc. They encourage period plainly increasing inflammation and reducing blood flow around.
• GO FOR FISH OILS, VIT D, CALCIUM…
These nutrients are so useful in eliminating cramps. Calcium helps relieve menstrual cramp especially if they are taken adequately.
Essential levels of Vit D helps in reducing production of prostaglandins(PGs) and same also applies for fish oil. The good news is that these nutrients are abundant in our daily meals, increase their intake.
• TAKE HERBAL TEAS
Herbal teas have anti-inflammatory properties and antispasmodic compounds that can reduce the muscle spasms in the uterus that cause cramping. Drinking chamomile, fennel or ginger tea is an easy, natural way to relieve menstrual cramps. Plus, herbal teas can have other benefits like stress relief and helping with insomnia.
• SAY NO TO CAFFEINE
Here, caffeine is used as an umbrella for coffee, soda, carbonated drinks, chocolate and so on. Instead, try taking smoothies which are loaded with essential and useful nutrients.
Asides these, other things that could help you get relief from menstrual cramps include
– Having a good sleep routine
– Acupuncture therapy
– Massage therapy
– Applying heat to cramp areas.
– Taking a warm bath
– Taking Birth Control Pills (Yea, they help)
– Over-the-counter medication remedies
– Reduce Stress.