Period pain is genuinely one of the least pleasant things a person can experience. 50% of the population should consider themselves lucky that this is something they will never have to experience. For the other 50%, it is important to find ways to soothe this pain which it flares up. Here are a few simple tips, some medicinal, some more homegrown. But all of them will work in some capacity or another.
Naprogesic is a non steroidal anti-inflammatory which goes a long way in relieving period pain. It works in a similar way to Ibuprofen: it works to suppress the production of a chemical called prostaglandins, the friendly little guy that causes pain and inflammation in your uterus. The key difference is in their ingredients. Naprogesic contains naproxen sodium which has a much longer half life in your system. Think of it this way: Ibuprofen is the quick sugar hit of a chocolate bar, while Naprogesic is the slow release of grains and fibres. This longer lifespan in your body means that it keeps those cramps at bay for much longer than Ibuprofen does. Having said that, in a pinch, Ibuprofen is still much much better than nothing. The other big difference between the two is in the side effects: Ibuprofen is more likely to cause an upset stomach or gastrointestinal bleeding, whereas Naprogesic is more likely to make you feel dizzy or drowsy.
By applying heat to the uterus, it promotes blood flow to the area which reduces pain and relaxes the muscles. You might consider using a microwavable heat pack or a hot water bottle. It is important to make sure that you don’t make it so hot that you will burn yourself, but for most people, the warmer the better. The position is really a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer them on the lower abdomen, while others prefer them on the lower back. A combination of both is usually worth trying. However, if this is not working, you could consider taking a long hot bath or shower instead.
It is important to note that this should only ever be light exercise. Running a marathon might not help relieve period pain, but a light walk should do the trick. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, it releases endorphins, the pleasure hormones that relieve pain, reduce stress and improve your mood. Essentially, they are natural painkillers. Secondly, exercise increases your blood flow to your uterus and other pelvic organs which helps relieve the pain. Finally, exercise is a welcome distraction, promoting relaxation and reducing stress. These are all infinitely valuable when trying to escape the doldrums of period pain.
Changing your diet
Processed foods, high in fats, sugars or salts can exacerbate cramps and bloating which increases inflammation in your body. Caffeine, alcohol, red meat and dairy are all common offenders. On the other hand, there are many foods that have anti inflammatory properties such as fatty fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables and seeds. Put all those together and you have some kind of delicious poke bowl, which is never a bad option. These kinds of foods regulate hormones like oestrogen to reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. It also boosts your energy which makes you more likely to get up and exercise. Everything is interconnected, after all.
If you are really into your natural remedies, there are a number of herbal options which can help to support your body against menstrual cramps. Ginger, cinnamon and tumeric all have anti-inflammatory properties. However, it is important that you discuss this with your healthcare provider as they can sometimes interfere with medications or cause side effects. For the most part, these work really well as supplementary treatments to be used alongside the medicinal options.
If your periods are getting to the point where they interfere with daily activities, it is worth discussing options with your GP. It may well be that there are some other factors at play.
Why do women have periods?
Women have periods as part of their menstrual cycle, which is a process that prepares the body for pregnancy. Each month, the lining of the uterus thickens in preparation for a fertilised egg to implant and grow into a foetus. If the egg is not fertilised, the uterus sheds its lining, resulting in menstrual bleeding. The menstrual cycle is regulated by hormones produced by the ovaries. Having a period is a sign that a woman's body is capable of becoming pregnant, and while it can be inconvenient, it is an important part of reproductive health and can provide insights into overall health.
How long do periods last?
Periods typically last 3-7 days, although the length can vary from woman to woman. The amount of bleeding can also vary, with some women experiencing light bleeding and others experiencing heavy bleeding.
At what age do women cease having periods?
Women stop having periods during a natural process called menopause, which typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. During menopause, the ovaries stop producing as much oestrogen and progesterone, which causes menstrual cycles to become less frequent and eventually stop altogether. This transition can take several years and is marked by a range of symptoms, including hot flashes, mood changes, and vaginal dryness
Does the birth control pill allow me to skip my period?
The birth control pill can allow women to skip periods or have fewer periods. Most birth control pills contain a combination of hormones (oestrogen and progestin) that prevent ovulation and thin the lining of the uterus, which can make periods lighter and shorter. Some newer forms of birth control pills, such as extended-cycle pills or continuous-dosing pills, are designed to allow women to skip periods altogether or have them less frequently, such as once every three months. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate birth control method and dosing schedule for each individual.