In a rush but got fear of missing out? Here's a summary for you:
Period pain is very common and is considered to be a normal part of the menstrual cycle
Nine out of ten people that have periods will experience some type of discomfort and/or pain from their periods each month
Pain when on your period is usually felt as muscle cramps in the stomach which can also extend to the back and thighs
Some people may always have period pain but for others, it can be sporadic, worsening or lessening for different cycles
To relieve period cramps, there are many different options available including painkillers, heat, and even diet
Sometimes you may get pelvic pain/cramps even when you are not on your period
Period pain does not usually signify that anything is wrong with your health but in some cases, painful periods could be a symptom of endometriosis, uterine fibroids or adenomyosis.
If you experience very painful periods or your period symptoms change from what is normal for you, you should always talk to your GP
You're probably all too familiar with period pain - those cramps around your stomach, back, and thighs that creep in around the time of your period, and even sometimes occur in the middle of your cycle during ovulation. Whilst period pain is a common thing during the menstrual cycle, let's be honest, it's not fun. So what can you do to reduce your menstrual cramps and relieve your period pain? We did some digging and comprised a list of proven remedies from women's health experts that will help to reduce your cramping on your period.
What is period pain and why does it happen?
Period pain is a natural, normal part of the menstrual cycle and three in four women will experience period pain during their menstrual cycle, making it a very common symptom. Period pain shows up when the muscular wall of the womb tightens (contracts). Mild contractions continually occur in your womb, but they're usually so mild that you cannot feel them, however, during your period, the wall of the womb starts to contract more vigorously to help the womb lining shed as part of your period.
The contracting of the womb walls compresses the lining blood vessels which temporarily cuts off the blood supply and oxygen to your womb, making your womb release chemicals that trigger pain. And there you have it, hello period cramps.
When does period pain start?
For most people, period pain will usually show up just before your bleeding begins, but for some people, cramps can start several days before the start of their period. All of our bodies are different, which means the way we period will be different! Keeping track of your period is a great way to keep track of what's normal for your body. Read our blog on tracking your period here.
How long does does period pain last?
Period pain/cramps usually lasts for 48 to 72 hours, although it can last longer. It's usually at its worst when your bleeding is heaviest. If you have an extremely painful or heavy period, you should always check this out with your GP, as severe pain can sometimes be your body's way of telling you something isn't quite right!
So, what can I do to relieve period pain?
I know, getting out of bed when you're on your period probably sounds like your worst nightmare and you probably won't feel like doing anything during a painful period, but exercise being active can help with the pain and discomfort of periods by increasing your circulation and also helps to improve your mood by releasing endorphins that make you feel happy!
Our founder and she-e-o Paige loves gentle swimming, walking and dancing during her period!
2. Gimme all the heat!
Who doesn't love lying down with a hot water bottle during their period? Putting a heat pad or hot water bottle (wrapped in a tea towel - we don't want burns) on your tummy can help to reduce pain by bringing blood to circulate around the area of pain. A warm bath or shower can also relieve pain and help you to relax - win win.
3. Rest up
Spending some time just slowing down and looking after yourself can work wonders for period pain. Some strategies that people use are staying in bed, watching television, and treating yourself to your favourite foods and drink to lift your mood and help you relax. Having a friend or partner give you a massage can also be great for period pain, and just really nice in general. If there's no one else around, you can always give yourself a light circular massage in the affected areas like your stomach or back.
4. Sex on your period
Sex on your period might sound messy, but many people swear by it as a way of relieving period pain! Menstrual cramps are a result of your uterus contracting to release its lining. When you have an orgasm, the muscles of your uterus also contract. Then they release. That release should bring some relief from period cramps.
5. Lifestyle and diet
While this last remedy is not as quick of a fix, it will definitely help in the long term to reduce the amount of period pain and cramping you experience each month.
If you smoke, you might want to think about quitting - smoking is thought to increase the risk of period pain which increasingly can worsen as the smoking continues.
Your diet also has a big part to play in your menstrual cramps! Research has shown that a plant-based eating pattern work to decrease inflammation in the body which helps reduce your period pain. There's so many delicious plant-based food available now that you'll be spoiled for choice, but some great plant-based foods for reducing period cramps are leafy greens like kale and spinach, fatty nuts and seeds, bananas and pineapple, high in magnesium foods like oats, and calming teas like chamomile and ginger. Off to the kitchen I go!
Full list of remedies for cramp relief:
Remember: if your period pain is very severe or unmanageable, it's probably time to pay your GP a visit.