How many times have you heard that period pain is “just part of being a woman”?
That it’s “normal” to suffer crippling cramps or blinding menstrual migraines? Or that it’s “natural” to dread your period every single month?
Period pain is often written off as a standard part of being a woman - something you might come to expect after years of watching your mum or older sister pop Panadol as soon as “that time” of the month rolls around.
But did you know severe pain and cramping associated with your menstrual cycle is NOT normal?
It can be a sign that something is not quite right.
It may suggest that there could be a hormonal imbalance, an underlying health condition or a nutritional gap that needs to be addressed.
Ideally, your cycle should come and go with minimal disruption to your daily life, and minimal discomfort.
It’s a myth that you should have to suffer with it every month. And it’s also a myth that the only way to deal with period pain is with over the counter meds.
What is period pain?
Over half of those who menstruate, experience period pain (also known medically as dysmenorrhea) for one to two days every single month.
This pain can come in various forms and can affect people differently.
For some, it can mean headaches, general discomfort, or backache. For others, it could be sensitive, swollen breasts and muscle tension. One of the most common forms of period pain, however, is menstrual cramps.
What causes period pain?
Period cramps are caused by contractions in your uterus which are triggered by changes in your body’s hormone levels.
When you menstruate, your uterus contracts and sheds its lining. This can cause blood vessels in the uterus to become squeezed or compressed.
During this process, the blood supply to the cells in your uterus is temporarily cut off. Detecting a lack of oxygen, these cells release chemicals which trigger pain.
As these pain-triggering chemicals are released, so are other substances called prostaglandins. These encourage even stronger uterine contractions, increasing pain levels and triggering inflammation.
10 natural remedies to help with period pain
Periods are not easy and unfortunately, so many of us suffer in silence each month.
The good news is that there are numerous natural remedies out there that can help make your period more “It’s a Wonderful Life” than “The Exorcist”- y’know, just like those annoying tampon ads say we’re supposed to feel...
Your grandmother’s hot water bottle is nothing to scoff at! Heat is a tried and true method of relieving pain caused by menstrual cramps. And even better, it’s cheap, with no nasty side effects!
Heat can help your muscles relax, aid improved blood flow and relieve tension in your body. To reap the most benefits, try sitting with a heating pad, taking a hot shower or relaxing in a hot bath for at least 30 minutes.
Water helps the body naturally eliminate toxins and other bacteria that may cause illness and also helps carry oxygen to our cells, helping them to function at full capacity.
Keeping hydrated during your period is key to helping your body alleviate some of the pain and reduce unwelcome bloating.
Some women experience diarrhoea or vomiting along with their cramps each month so it's important to replace lost fluids. Where possible try to avoid salty foods and alcohol as these can dehydrate your body.
Aim to drink at least 2 litres each day, increasing your amounts when exercising.
Ditch the caffeine
Caffeine might make the world go round for some, but drinking it while on your period could make your cramps significantly 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.
If you are a diehard coffee drinker and can’t cut it out entirely, try avoiding it just in the week leading up to your period or consider switching to a decaf alternative.
Remember that caffeine comes in many forms including coffee, tea, soda, chocolate and energy drinks.
Try massage therapy
Did you know that by giving yourself a gentle massage for just 20 minutes can help relax your body and ease period pain? Massages may reduce uterine spasms by relaxing the uterus
And the best part? It’s super simple!
To start, focus on applying gentle pressure on your abdomen and lower back, working in slow circular motions to boost blood flow.
Practise good sleep hygiene
A rise in body temperature, nausea and cramping experienced during our periods can make it difficult for our bodies to unwind at night. Ironically, lack of sleep can lower our pain threshold, and make these symptoms feel much worse the next day.
It’s a vicious cycle.
Implementing a relaxing nighttime routine during your period can help prepare and train your body for sleep.
Trick your body into feeling “sleepy” with a warm bath or shower before bed and introduce some mind relaxation techniques such as meditation to help you unwind.
Boost those endorphins
Often during our period, we have an urge to go into hibernation mode, close up shop and aim to just “get through it” with copious amounts of couch and blanket time.
When you’re feeling bloated and crampy the last thing you feel like doing is getting your sweat on but hear us out!
During your period, your body produces prostaglandins, which is a hormone that causes the uterine muscles to contract (ugh,) but endorphins from exercise help fight it off (yay)!
Exercising actually increases the blood flow to the pelvic region as well as releasing endorphins – the happy hormone that makes you feel great!
Fight pain with pleasure
For many women, the days during your period, are considered off-limits as far as sex goes. And we get why.
Period sex can be messy and the idea of getting naked when we often feel our most bloated and crampy can feel far from sexy. But did you know that there is anecdotal evidence that period sex can help with menstrual cramp relief?!
During an orgasm, your pelvic muscles contract and release, which may reduce the pelvic pain and cramping associated with menstruation.
Orgasms also signal your brain to release endorphins and oxytocin.
These feel-good hormones help reduce pain and boost our overall mood- a big plus if your flow makes you draggy, easily irritated, or just crummy in general!
Support your body with Triumph
In addition to a healthy balanced diet, your body can also need a little extra support through supplementation to ensure it is getting adequate levels of the right minerals, vitamins and nutrients during your period.
Triumph is a monthly cycle supplement, specifically formulated around the 3 phases of your menstrual cycle and gives your body exactly what it needs to support the symptoms experienced throughout each phase.
In each daily dose, you are getting 55 key nutrients such as Ginger, Magnesium, Vitamin B1, Zinc & Thiamine, all linked to its powerful effects on treating issues from inflammation, muscle tension and pain.
Stretch it out
Yoga has consistently been reported to help reduce symptoms such as headaches, muscle pains, insomnia and mood dips. Plus, it can boost your overall health and wellbeing.
Some of the best poses suggested for easing period pain include:
- Child’s Pose- stretches out sore stiff back muscles
- Reclined Goddess Pose- opens up and gently stretches the groin and hips
- Locust Pose- massages the abdominal muscles and reproductive organs.
Before taking part, remember to listen to what your body is telling you and only perform the poses that feel comfortable to you.
Be gentle, take it slow & remember- if you'd rather cuddle up in the foetal position on the couch- that can be considered your yoga too!
If you're looking for a quick natural remedy that you can do literally anywhere, acupressure might be the answer!
Used as a self-healing therapy for centuries, acupressure is based on the concept of life energy which flows through "meridians" in the body. In treatment, physical pressure is applied to acupuncture points with the aim of clearing blockages in these meridians.
Applying pressure to key points on the back, abdomen, feet, and the fleshy part between your thumb and index finger can be effective treatments for pain.
According to a 2004 study, rubbing circles on your calf at a point above your ankle can relieve period pain.
Fancy giving it a go?
Step 1: Measure 4 fingers up from your inner ankle bone.
Step 2: Firmly rub this area for several minutes.
Step 3: Repeat daily or as needed before and during your period.
When to see a doctor about period pain?
Although period pain is common, red flags or a reason to consult a doctor include the following:
- When the pain you are experiencing is not natural for you e.g. more intense than usual, in a different place or lasting longer than usual
- Severe bleeding which is not typical for you
- Unusual or new symptoms such as vomiting
- Signs of anemia such as tiredness, paler skin or hair loss
- When the pain is impacting your day to day living or causing you to regularly miss work
- Temperature above 38°C. Although it is common that your body temperature fluctuates during your cycle, a high temperature could be a sign of an infection
We'd LOVE to hear if you’ve tried any of these pain-relieving methods or if you have any other tricks we should know about. Share your tips in the comments below!
If you enjoyed this blog, why not check out some of our similar posts:
- Let’s Talk About: Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
- Tips for Coping with Self-Isolation When the PMS Struggle is Real
- Skin vs. Menstrual Cycle: A Modern Day Tale of Fear, Loathing & Hormones