Period pain, or menstrual cramps, are very common with most women experiencing symptoms at some point in their life. A 2016 study found that as many as 88% of women aged 18-25 had experienced menstrual cramps in the previous 12 months. Interestingly this study also showed that only 1 in 3 women had spoken to a healthcare professional about their pain. While period pain is common it should not be so easily dismissed.
Pain that intensifies over multiple cycles, or the sudden onset of extreme pain can a be warning sign that something is wrong. And any menstrual symptom which dramatically affects your daily life should be investigated. Pain which leaves you bedridden or unable to function is not normal and you should see your doctor to ensure there is no underlying problem.
For most people though, pain is just another sign that their period has arrived. So what can you do to help naturally?
1. Many women report feeling bloated when they have their period. However, it is interesting to note that drinking more water has been associated with less pain. Increasing water intake to 8 cups per day reduced pain and even reduced the number of painkillers women needed to take during their period.
2. One of the best known natural treatments for period pain is the application of heat. A hot water bottle or heat pack can be used, or even a warm shower. Heat helps muscles to relax, easing the uterine cramping. A heat pack on your lower back is an easy way to relieve the back pain sometimes associated with menstruation.
3. Regular gentle exercise throughout your cycle is also likely to reduce pain. One study showed how regular yoga reduced pain and even reduced painkillers women used. It doesn’t have to be yoga, just something that gets your body moving regularly – a short walk around the block after work would be helpful too.
4. Vitamin supplements can also help reduce period pain. Calcium and magnesium are helpful for reducing muscle cramping including period cramps. Fish oil is also helpful in reducing menstrual pain though needs to be taken throughout your cycle. Our in-store naturopaths have many supplements available to help you improve your period pain. Just come in and ask. Prevalence and severity of dysmenorrhoea, and management options reported by young Australian women. Australian Family Physician. Vol 45, Issue 11, 2016.  The role of water intake in the severity of pain and menstrual distress among females suffering from primary dysmenorrhea: a semi-experimental study. BMC Women’s Health. 2021; 21:40  Effect of Yoga Exercise on Premenstrual Symptoms among Female Employees in Taiwan. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016 Jul; 13(7): 721