No woman wants to spend part of each month achy and uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are simple methods to help you kick those pesky cramps to the curb.
Apply Some Soothing Heat
A lot of women use heating pads, hot water bottles and the like to ease cramps. And with good reason: One study found that applying a heat patch was as effective as an over-the-counter painkiller.† And don’t forget the relaxing powers of warm water in the form of a shower or bath.
Engage in Some Exercise
You may want to just curl up on the couch with a heating pad. However, research suggests that movement might reduce your discomfort (and you can always use heat later).†
You shouldn’t engage in anything too strenuous: Walking at a moderately brisk pace will do nicely. Or try yoga, which has shown itself useful for easing menstrual pain in several studies.†
Drink More Water...and Less Caffeine
Speaking of water: It may seem odd to drink more when you’re already feeling bloated. But keep in mind that dehydration aggravates everything, including pain.
Make a habit of downing six to eight glasses of water a day, flavored with cucumber, lemon or mint if you really can’t stand plain water. You can also add foods full of water to your diet, such as celery, cucumber, lettuce and (of course) watermelon. (Try combining water, berries, cucumber and protein powder for a power smoothie.)
While you’re upping your water intake, cut down on regular coffee and other sources of caffeine, which may increase cramping.† Instead, try a cup of chamomile tea, long used as a relaxing bedtime beverage, or some warm low-sodium broth.
Avoid Foods That Promote Water Retention
Increasing your water intake won’t help unless you also eliminate foods that cause you to retain water. Salty stuff is a big no-no, of course (one salt source you may not have thought of: bread). But you should also avoid fatty and sugary foods as well as alcohol.
Eat an Anti-Cramping Diet
On the other side of the ledger, some foods—including almonds, avocados, brown rice flaxseed, leafy greens, peanut butter and walnuts—contain nutrients that may be particularly helpful when you’re feeling crampy.†
Try Some Self-Massage
Massaging your belly can encourage blood flow, which may help ease cramping.† You can try creating your own massage oil by combining a carrier oil, such as sweet almond, with a few drops of lavender essential oil. You can also visit an acupuncturist, who can not only give you a treatment session but can also tell you what points on the body to massage for at-home acupressure therapy.
Get More Sleep
Not getting enough sleep can lead to all sorts of problems, so it’s not surprising that sleeplessness has been associated with menstrual pain, too.† That warm bath and cup of chamomile tea may be helpful; you should also go to bed at the same time every night and put away the electronic devices an hour beforehand.
†The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described.
The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.