Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) or stomach pain during periods are quite common. Most females experience cramps before and/or during menstrual periods. At times, these cramps can create so much discomfort that they might even interfere and hinder everyday activities.
There is no certain answer or explanation as to why women experience stomach cramps during periods but factors that might be associated with painful menstruation include:
• Having heavy blood flow
• Being under age 20 or just beginning of the menstrual period
• Never having had a baby
• Having the first child
• Reaching puberty before the age of 11
• Having irregular periods
• Overproduction of or sensitivity to prostaglandins, a hormone that affects the womb
• Use of birth control
• Endometriosis, a condition of abnormal growth of uterine tissue
To get relieved from menstrual pain, women can go for over-the-counter, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. These drugs help reduce pain but might not as effective as oral contraception.
According to a study conducted in 2010 on 23 women with pain due to endometriosis, it was found that massage therapy for about 20 minutes significantly helped in reducing the pain. Massaging with essential oils may provide some additional benefits.
Food items that may cause water retention and bloating should be avoided. Some of them include fatty foods, carbonated beverages, high-sodium (salty) foods, alcohol, and caffeine. You can always find better alternatives. Avoiding these food items may help reduce cramps.
According to a study, conducted on 147 women of 18-30 years in 2012, applying heat to the abdomen and lower back was as effective as ibuprofen. So, get a heating pad for heat therapy.
Herbs possess anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties which to a certain extent can reduce stomach cramps during period. Therefore, add herbs like pycnogenol, fennel seeds, cinnamon, dill, ginger, and so on to your diet.
While there are no pieces of evidence on the effect of orgasms on stomach cramps, science proposes it may help. The effect of orgasms can be seen on the whole body. It triggers the brain to release neurotransmitters like endorphins and oxytocin which can ease the pain feeling.
As mentioned already, home remedies may work for mild and temporary pain but it is highly recommended to see a doctor if it is severe and has started preventing you from doing your basic tasks.
See your doctor, if you experience any of the below-mentioned symptoms:
• Back-to-back three painful menstrual periods
• Constant severe pain
• Heavy bleeding
• Pelvic pain when not menstruating
• Cramping with diarrhoea and nausea
• OTC drugs or other home remedies do not work
• Passing blood clots
Besides these, if you feel sudden cramping or pelvic pain, it might be a sign of infection. If the infection is not treated in time, it can cause scar tissue that can affect pelvic organs and may create fertility issues. Some of the symptoms of an infection include fever, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, and severe pelvic pain.
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