Period cramps, or dysmenorrhea, are a pain in your lower abdomen before or during menstruation. Menstrual cramps are cramping pains that can last for a few days. It could be a discomfort to some, however, it could be severe for many. Thankfully, there are three quick methods you can do for period cramp relief. These methods are heat packs, over-the-counter medicines, and exercise.
Periods are unavoidable, with symptoms varying per person. Some women may find it difficult to even get up or move during the process. In some cases, severe pain may be a sign of a condition that requires medical attention. It is good to know what you can do to make these cramps easier. In this article, you will learn about some strategies to manage period pain, its causes and symptoms, and how Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) can help.
3 Quick Methods for Period Cramp Relief
There are three quick methods for period cramp relief. Firstly, heat packs or heating pads are helpful with period cramps in the same way that they help soothe other muscular pains. They are designed to apply to your abdominal area where the heat radiates through your skin to the source of pain. This is a good way to relax your muscles for up to 12 hours.
To relieve pain, another quick and easy method is the over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines. These medicines contain active ingredients such as ibuprofen, naproxen, mefenamic acid, aspirin, diclofenac, and ketoprofen. Alternatively, you can try paracetamol if you have short-term pains. Paracetamol is the most common recommendation to relieve pain.
Lastly, doing exercises regularly can help reduce pain. Exercise increases blood circulation in your body. Moreover, it releases endorphins. Some of the best exercises to ease menstrual pain include aerobic exercise, pelvic tucks, yoga poses, light weight lifting, and pilates. Most of these exercises target your pelvic and abdominal muscles, help you stretch and relax your muscles, and reduce inflammation.
Other Ways to Relieve Period Cramps
Most of the time, you can treat menstrual cramps at home. To help reduce pain, these are the safe and effective home remedies:
- Try some yoga poses or stretching exercises for your muscles.
- Drink some herbal teas to calm the cramping.
- Curl up with a heating pad to relax muscles.
- Pop a safe painkiller to cut inflammation.
- Do an acupuncture healing method to help relax the nervous system.
- Increase magnesium intake by eating food like almonds, spinach, yogurt, black beans, and peanut butter.
- Massage with essential oils.
- Have a healthy diet by swapping out less healthy fats like saturated fats for unsaturated healthier ones.
Period Cramp Relief: Causes & Symptoms
Understanding periods is the first step towards relief from period cramps. Menstrual cramps are caused by the contractions in your uterus. These contractions are due to changes in hormone levels. During menstruation, the uterus releases its lining. It is expelled out of the vagina as blood. Therefore, the uterus’ contractions during this process can be a cause of pain.
Women who are more likely to experience menstrual pain are those who are below 30 years old and started puberty at age 11 or earlier. Those who smoke and have an inactive and unhealthy lifestyle may have a higher chance of experiencing this pain. Additionally, those who have heavy or irregular bleeding during periods and have a family history of period pain generally experience worse symptoms.
There are several signs and symptoms of period cramps. You may feel an aching pain or a feeling of pressure in your belly. Sometimes, it can be severe. You may also feel pain in your hips, lower back, and inner thighs. When cramps are serious, symptoms may include an upset stomach, vomiting, and loose stools.
What to Do When Cramps are Severe
If you experience severe or unusual cramps, it may be worth seeking medical attention. It may be a sign of a deeper issue. A doctor should examine if there is a gynecologic condition or any other health problems. Depending on the condition, they can prescribe medications or advise changes in diet or fitness that may help.
Period cramps are typically not severe enough to need medical attention. It is always best to get checked out when in doubt, however, especially if the pain is really bad. Some issues that require attention may include endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and pelvic inflammatory disease.
TENS Therapy for Period Cramp Relief
TENS therapy is a non-invasive pain treatment method. It can be used for a wide variety of pains. This makes it an ideal source of relief for period cramps. TENS therapy uses electrical pulses to stimulate the body to release endorphins. The pulses also block pain signals from travelling from the nerves to the brain. These pulses are delivered to the body via electrode pads placed over the affected area.
TENS is very simple to use. First, identify the area you will treat and attach the pads. For period cramps, the best spot to place the pads is the lower abdomen or back. Once the pads are attached, turn on the device and begin a session. There may be a preset mode for period relief, or you can experiment with the settings to find the best intensity for you.
After your session, turn the device off and remove the pads. Make sure to always clean the pads after use. Wireless TENS devices are highly mobile, so feel free to take them with you in case you want to use them throughout the day.
Guidelines for Using TENS
TENS therapy is very safe and has no major side effects. However, there are still some basic guidelines to follow to maximise safety. First, monitor pad placement. They should not go on top of wounds, bones, joints, the spine, or temples. If you have a heart condition, do not place pads on your chest, and consult a doctor before use.
Second, do not use TENS too much. The most common side effect people notice is mild skin irritation when TENS is used in the same place too much. Take a 20-minute break between sessions, and stop for longer if your skin starts to hurt.
Period cramps or dysmenorrhea are very common in most women. There are times when it greatly affects your daily routines as pain can be throbbing and annoying. Fortunately, there are three quick ways for period cramp relief. They are heat packs, over-the-counter medicines, and exercise. Heat packs will help relax your muscles. Pain medication can help relieve pain. Exercise can help increase blood flow in your body, reduce inflammation, and stretch your pelvic and abdominal muscles.
Aside from these methods, there is also TENS therapy, which is a method of reducing pain. It is a non-invasive and drug-free treatment for treating menstrual pain. TENS therapy uses a device that has electrode pads that you have to place on your lower abdomen or lower back. Through these pads, electrical pulses will be delivered to provide pain relief to your nerves. For this, iTENS Australia offers a wireless unit for pain management.