What causes period pain?
Period pain occurs because our uterine muscles are contracting in order to shed the lining of the uterus. Bearing in mind that these muscles can contract strongly enough to deliver a baby, it is no wonder that we sometimes experience quite severe pain with our period.
Symptoms can vary from being very mild and infrequent, to severe and at times debilitating, but no matter how this symptom affects us, there are simple lifestyle tips we can try to help ease the pain.
1. Eat your greens!
When your abdomen is aching and you are feeling pretty miserable, often all we long for is a comforting bar of chocolate. However, eating well at this time of month is one of the best things you can do to help you through your period.
This isn’t just about eating a healthy balanced diet but including a little extra of those elements which help to battle the pain. Foods rich in magnesium, notably dark green leafy veg, such as kale, have this special property.
Magnesium is a mineral which is essential in muscle relaxation. Without it, our muscles would be continually contracting – hence why a magnesium deficiency is characterised by muscular tics, spasms and cramps.
Ensuring that you include enough magnesium in your diet will help to reduce over-enthusiastic uterine contractions.
2. Go nuts!
Manganese is another vital mineral. Research has found that lower levels of manganese is linked to increased period pain, as well as other symptoms of PMS, such as mood swings and difficulty concentrating.
Nuts are particularly rich in this mineral, especially, hazelnuts, pecans, macadamia and walnuts. Seeds have a similar nutritional profile to nuts, so too are rich in manganese. Pumpkin, chia, sesame, flaxseeds and sunflower seeds all make a great snack, and can easily be added into meals, which may just help to reduce your pain.
3. Have a banana
Bananas have natural pain-killing properties, and have been found to help reduce period pain, as well headaches.
This is thought to be because of the high level of potassium in this fruit, which helps to reduce muscular cramps. Additionally, bananas are rich in vitamin K, which can help to balance the hormones and menstrual flow, thus reducing period pain and other symptoms of PMS.
Drinking plenty of water is the best way to keep hydrated. Keeping hydrated is important, as otherwise your body has a habit of retaining water.
This can cause bloating, putting extra pressure on your abdomen, and worsen period pain. Drinking warm water can be particularly effective in relieving pain as it increases blood flow to the skin and causes the muscles to relax.
An ice-cold glass of water is a bit of a shock to the system, and is likely to cause a sudden contraction of muscles, something you probably want to avoid at this time of month.
If you are not fond of drinking too much plain water, some herbal tea may help. Raspberry leaf tea, in particular, is thought to reduce period pain.
When all you can think about is your aching belly, the last thing you probably feel like doing is getting up and exercising. However, a little exercise can do wonders for relieving your period pain. This is because exercise stretches out your muscles, reducing cramping, and thus alleviating pain.
Additionally, exercise releases endorphins, chemicals which are the body’s natural painkillers. So, even if you feel like you really can’t face vigorous exercise, going for a walk or a swim may help you to feel much better.
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise which strengthens the body, and relaxes the mind. This can be great during your period as it not only helps you find and inner calm to help you through this troublesome time, but it stretches muscles and releases endorphins too. Certain poses and stretches have been found to be particularly effective in relieving period pain.
6. Agnus Castus
Many women find that helping their body naturally with herbs is also a good way of reducing period pain.
One of the most popular herbs for this is Agnus castus, which has been traditionally used in stabilising the female hormones, and thus helping to reduce period pain. Fresh extracts of this herb are available in licensed herbal remedy A.Vogel Agnus castus oral drops.
How do you relieve period pain? Share your tips in the comment section below.