Ways to Alleviate Menstrual Cramps : If Aunt Flo’s once-monthly visit sends you into a chronic-pain spiral and subjects your insides to mid-morning pilates section, complete with core-contorting moves like the corkscrew, it’s time to nip those internal Charley horses in the bud. Nobody likes menstrual cramps, and they can range in severity from a minor annoyance to a debilitating test of your pain tolerance.
If you’d travel to the ends of the earth to address monthly flow frustrations, it’s time to take your menstrual cramp remedies back to the drawing board.
Is your period pain normal?
Like many reproductive health issues, it can be hard to find information about menstrual cramps and how to manage them best. Gauging what pain falls within the “normal” range can also pose a challenge for those misinformed menstruators. If your cramps leave you bed-bound once a month, it may be a sign of something more serious.
Some examples of problematic menstrual symptoms include cramps that worsen years after your first period, cramps accompanied by prolonged, heavy bleeding, and cramping that happens outside of your monthly period. If you’re worried about your menstrual health, consult some female health resources and schedule an appointment with your doctor.
It’s hard to cope with cramps even when they’re not part of a more significant problem. If heat packs and Ibuprofen aren’t doing it for you, fear not. Here are seven unusual ways to alleviate your menstrual cramps.
You’ll probably be happy to hear that more than one of the entries on this list involves snacking on a nutrient-rich and critically-acclaimed superfood. “Eat an avocado” might sound like an instruction out of a too-good-to-be-true (and myth-ridden) guidebook, but don’t be too quick to dismiss these little green wonders.
Avocados are a source of magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant. Magnesium also reduces prostaglandins, which are a source of inflammation usually associated with more severe menstrual cramps. For some extra good news, dark chocolate is another excellent source of magnesium.
Next time cramps have you doing the twist-and-shout, trying making avocado fudge brownies. Just replace most of the butter with freshly-sliced avocado, throw in some dark chocolate chips, and you’ll be munching your way to sweet relief in no time. Other cramp-killing ways to feed your sweet tooth include avocado-based ice cream from the store or the Vietnamese dessert Sinh tố bơ.
Give your ear a massage
Back in May of this year, @therealtiktokdoc went viral on TikTok for a video about how to relieve menstrual cramps with your ears. According to him, if you use the eraser end of a pencil to massage underneath the inferior crus of your ear, it could help relieve period cramps. The video has over one million views and thirteen thousand comments, with many swearing by this otology-meets-acupuncture hack.
Though many are skeptical of acupuncture’s efficacy, bad cramps might be the push you need to try going under the needle. Evidence suggests that regular acupuncture can reduce period pain by as much as 50%, so if your cramps feel like being stabbed, consider settling for being poked.
Treat yourself to a milkshake
Calcium is known to reduce PMS symptoms and period pain, so go ahead and treat yourself to an extra-thick milkshake. If dairy doesn’t agree with you, you can also find calcium in broccoli, oranges, and soybeans (hint-hint, delicious Chinese takeout).
Remember the tip about dark chocolate and magnesium? For an extra nutritional punch, spring for a milkshake with dark chocolate in it or sprinkled on top.
Channel your inner athlete
No, this tip isn’t about exercising (although that can help too if you’re up to it). Muscle contractions in the uterus are what cause menstrual cramps. When muscles cause pain elsewhere in the body, people often use kinesiology tape to help soothe the ache. Also called athletic tape, kinesiology tape works by lifting the skin off the affected muscles, allowing better blood flow and stabilization.
Even if you don’t feel like moving a muscle, it’ll help to apply a few strips of tape to your lower abdomen.
Practice your downward dog
Yoga, with its many low-impact poses and movements, can be an excellent way to relieve cramps. Being on your period can make it hard to want to move, which is why a customizable, slow-paced option like yoga is perfect for the occasion.
The best poses will be anything that opens up the muscles in your pelvis and abdomen. Try postures like the adapted child’s pose, cat-cow, and the goddess pose to start. There are also plenty of period-specific yoga routines on YouTube, so don’t hesitate to break out your mat.
It’s easy to joke about cramps, but knowing they happen every month can also be distressing. Listen to your body. If your cramps are especially severe (for example, to the point that they interfere with your daily activities), it may be a good idea to consult your doctor.
In the meantime, if you’re two Ibuprofen down with no relief, don’t be scared to get creative in your remedy search. Good luck and relaxed muscles to everyone.
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