Feel like your uterus is wringing itself out like a wash cloth? An invisible puppy is using your insides as a chew toy? Then you, my friend, have experienced the period cramp. These unpleasant little contractions occur when your uterus sheds the lining it has spent weeks creating, contracting to push the lining out of the vagina. As the uterine wall muscles twist, they often cut off their own own blood supply, and this oxygen deprivation is part of what causes period pain. Don’t despair, though – besides popping a couple of ibuprofen, there are lots of natural remedies that can help do away with your cramps in no time.
1. Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot
Clutching a hot water bottle might make you feel like a tired stereotype – but this is one stereotype based on cold, hard facts. When you feel a temperature of over 40 degrees on your skin, your body will switch on heat receptors in that area, which reduces the effectiveness of pain neurotransmitters. Hot water bottles are very effective, but a warm bath or a cup of hot tea can also help bring your temperature up. Which brings us to….
2. Tea Time!
Tea is a fantastic natural remedy, and has been brewed for almost 2000 years due to its unique healing and revitalizing properties. Much more than just a soothing drink, the benefits of tea are grounded in scientific fact.
Chamomile tea is especially great for period relief, naturally elevating your glycine levels – a chemical that both reduces muscle spasms and acts as a nerve relaxant. Chamomile also has natural sedative properties, as well as being an anti-inflammatory.
Peppermint tea, raspberry leaf tea and cinnamon tea are also purported to soothe menstrual cramps, so try out a few and you’ll be feeling tea-riffic in no time (sorry, not sorry).
3. Shake It Off
If you don’t already have an annoying friend who tells you how much exercising on her period helps her cramps, then it’s time for you to BE that annoying friend. Prostaglandins are chemicals released in the body that trigger uterine contractions and the pesky pain that goes along with them.
When exercising, the body produces pain killing analgesia which burns off prostaglandins faster, making periods way less painful. Plus, you think that rush of endorphins feel good when not on your period?
Well think how amazing that boost will feel when you’re not at 100% – sweet, sweet relief. While aerobic exercises are best at getting your circulation going, partaking in a spot of yoga is also great at loosening up those hips and soothing any tension in the lower back. So if you’re tired of sipping tea under a pile of duvets, get up, get moving and give those cramps the heave-ho!
4. Bloat Be Gone
Ever find yourself loosening those belt buckles when you’re on your period? Then you may be familiar with period bloating. Period bloating is usually caused by water retention, and unfortunately the salty carbohydrate laden food that you crave at this time only makes your body retain even more water.
Cut out these (delicious) unhealthy foods in favor of some healthier fare, and keep your H20 levels up to minimize retention. Good news! Chocolate (the dark kind) contains high levels of potassium which helps to regulate sodium levels and beat that bloat by promoting water balance around the body. We knew it tasted so good for a reason!
5. Get Off
Yup, we saved the best til last. Whether you’re flying solo or partnering up, having sex will do wonders for period cramps. You know those contractions you feel in your vagina during orgasm? Well they increase blood flow, helping oxygen reach your uterine muscles and providing possibly the most powerful natural cramp relief of all.
Plus, when you orgasm, chemicals like dopamine, serotonin and endorphin are sent soaring through your bloodstream, making you feel happy, warm, satisfied and content. So next time you’re feeling down? You might as well get down and dirty. By the by, if you want more excuses to touch yourself, check out our 9 health benefits of masturbation…
If you feel like your cramps are holding you back from the more important things in life – don’t. There are so many natural ways to kick them to the curb, so try a few out and see what combo works for you. If you still can’t shake them, make sure to speak with your doctor.