Updated: Jan 20
In the last year my period pains have gotten unbearable. If you have read my previous posts relating to my periods (click here and here if you've not) you'll know that I'm still unsure if the pain is being caused from pcos or my copper IUD. Over the last year I've tried many things to help reduce the pain naturally, including diet and lifestyle changes. Whilst I have noticed a difference in certain aspects of my life, I cannot say that anything has reduced my cramps. During my period, I try and use natural remedies to relieve my cramps, here are a few of my top tips and tricks:
1) A good old heat pad or hot water bottle or microwaveable pad. This is more difficult to do in the summer months when you’re already hot but during the enter months I find having something warm comforting. Heat on your abdomen can help relax the muscles of the uterus in turn reducing the painful cramps.
2) TENS machines (tens stands for Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) - these devices emit small electric currents through sticky pads that are placed onto the skin, the idea is that the small electrical currents interfere with your pain receptors by sending tingling sensation from the TENS machine which has priority above any pain messages. Recently a device called the Livia came to the market, in my opinion this is just an overpriced TENS machine that gets away with over pricing itself because it’s marketed as a relief to period pain. A normal TENS machine for a fraction of the cost does exactly the same thing.
3) Yoga - now this is something I feel differently about each month. There are certain yoga poses, such as child's pose, that can help reduce period pains. It’s also known that light, gentle exercise can help reduce pain. Sometimes though, the pain for me is so bad that I cannot do anything but lie in a foetal position. I do, however, think that leading an active lifestyle and working out frequently can help reduce period pains.
4) Massage with essential oils - this is something on my list to try asap, I am actually on my period as I write this and do not have the essential oils required to hand. I have read that the best oils are lavender, clary sage and peppermint, I actually have lavender so I might try that later! I love the smell of essential oils and after reading into the benefits I am becoming more intrigued so this is definitely something I will look into for pain relief. (OK, I have actually just ordered peppermint and clary sage!)
5) Oh, this is one that you’ll all like! Having an orgasm! According to Healthline, Vaginal orgasms involve your whole body, including your spinal cord, which signals the release of neurotransmitters. A vaginal orgasm can trigger your brain to release neurotransmitters such as endorphins and oxytocin. Endorphins can decrease pain perception. I know people are not fans of penatrive sex whilst on their period but there are other options available!
6) Adding certain herbs such as calming camomile can help reduce cramps as can the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric. I like to include these as teas during my periods. If nothing else they taste nice and help me to keep up my water intake.
Alongside remedies for cramps as they happen, there are certain foods that can actually worsen our cramps. Here are a few: * Coffee - drinking coffee can make your period cramps a lot worse. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it makes the blood vessels in your body constrict. This can cause the vessels that feed your uterus to tighten, making your period cramps even more painful than they already were. I for one definitely notice this, if I drink coffee whilst on my period, within half an hour I regret it!
* Refined carbs and sugar - Your blood sugar fluctuates a lot when you are on your period. Consuming more sugar just adds fuel to the fire, your blood sugar level will rise and drop drastically. Additionally, sugar is inflammatory and can increase additional cramping. Refined sugar also causes your body to retain sodium and water, which leads to bloating and mood swings.
* Fatty foods - foods that are high in fat can increase the number of prostaglandins in your body and can make your uterus contract. Even fatty meats should be avoided during the period due to saturated fats which can worsen period pains.
* Chocolate - now this one is a toughie as we all crave chocolate on our periods. The problem is, most chocolate contains high sugar content, if you want chocolate choose dark chocolate and limit your intake to a few squares.
I also recently put up a post on instagram asking my followers what they do to alleviate period cramps, I have shared a few below. Tumeric latte CBD oil Clay sage and lavender oil Epson salt baths Vitamin D I hope this helps you during your period! I would love to know if you have any more tips and tricks? Either leave them below or pop on over to Instagram and comment on this post.