Menstruation, while being an entirely natural part of a woman’s life, is often not the most comfortable and is dreaded by many women for the myriad of symptoms that can ensue, including uterine cramps, low back pain and migraines or severe headaches that coincide with the onset of menstruation with depressing regularity. For some women, pain and excessive bleeding are so severe that they have a hysterectomy or ablation surgery.
Thankfully, nature has provided many ways you can find relief from your symptoms.
Reflexology for Period Pain
Reflexology is a manipulative therapy that involves applying pressure to specific points on the feet, lower legs, face, hands or ears. Just like with acupuncture, each pressure point corresponds to different areas of the body and the application of pressure to one of these points may help that particular body system to function normally.
Medical research studies looking at complementary remedies for period pain have found that reflexology can reduce feelings of discomfort during the menstrual cycle. Doctors running a clinic in Turkey gave women with problem periods reflexology treatments three times a week, starting on day three or four of menstruation and ending at the onset of the next menstruation. The treatments reduced the amount of pain the women experienced and their need for analgesics, not just in the cycle they received the reflexology but also up to the third cycle afterwards.
Massage Therapy for Period Pain
Deep tissue massage can be effective if you experience painful cramps. The pain is caused by uterine contractions squeezing muscles and blood vessels and inhibiting their oxygen supply. Massage can help restore blood flow to the area as well as triggering the body’s production of endorphins, a hormone with pain relieving abilities that are stronger than morphine. If essential oils are added to the massage, they can boost its effectiveness. When trainee midwives tried massage to treat their monthly misery, they found that it worked better at beating pain when lavender oil was added to the massage balm, so much so that the development of a lavender oil based herbal medicine for period pain was suggested.
Massage has very few side-effects when compared with drugs like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, it’s cheap and has the convenience of being able to be self-administered at home.
Acupuncture for Period Pain
The National Institutes of Health recommends acupuncture as a treatment for period pain. Women treated with acupuncture had less pain and needed less pain relief than they had done prior to treatment. Acupuncture works by a principle similar to that of reflexology. The practitioner places fine needles at various energy points in the body. Just like with reflexology, these points correspond to body organs. Placing needles at these points unblocked energy, allowing it to flow and assisting the body in returning to symptom-free, healthy function. A less invasive form of acupuncture that involves no needles – acupressure – is available if you’re nervous of needles and according to The University of Maryland Medical Centre, it works well when combined with ibuprofen.
Diet for Period Pain
Making sure you have an optimal diet will help prevent PMS and the symptoms associated with menstruation.
Reduce or Stop Eating Red Meat and High fat Dairy – These products contain a lot of arachidonic acid which causes cramps and depending on your genetic makeup, encourages inflammation. Avoiding them, therefore, should reduce the inflammation in your body and the amount of period pain you feel.
Have Good Fats – Consuming a diet that contains plenty of good fats – omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil and other high fat natural foods like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado and nuts.
Reduce Caffeine – Reducing caffeine in tea, coffee, cola and high energy drinks can eliminate or reduce the severity of your cramps.
Consider Taking a B Complex Vitamin Supplement – B complex vitamins may help prevent menstrual migraines and headaches.
Consider Taking a Magnesium Supplement – Magnesium can stop uterine contractions and so may ease period pain. It is used in hospitals to stop pre-term labor in pregnant women due to its muscle smoothing properties. If you are taking any medication, check with your doctor first as magnesium can interact with certain medications.
If you experience sudden, severe pain that is different to your usual cycle or you think you may be pregnant, you should seek advice from your healthcare provider.
by Anne Heather