Periods Suck: 5 At-Home Remedies for That Time of the Month

February 2, 2018   Menstruation & Menopause

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For many women, the menstrual cycle makes an appearance roughly twelve times a year. Have you ever wondered why you get a monthly visit in the first place? We can explain. As a woman, your uterine lining builds up in preparation for pregnancy. If no fertilization occurs upon ovulation, the uterine lining begins to shed (otherwise known as menstruation). During your period, the muscles of your uterus contract, which causes cramps. Some females even experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches.

If you suffer from any of these symptoms during your menstrual cycle, here are a few helpful remedies to try.

Watch your diet

When you have your period, it is common to want to eat a bunch of chocolate and greasy pizza slices. However, before you indulge, keep in mind that the worse you eat, the worse you may feel. Foods that are high in sugar, saturated fats, and salt can magnify your period symptoms. Drinking alcohol, carbonated beverages, and caffeine may even make you feel more bloated. If sugar is what you crave, try snacking on fruit like strawberries, peaches, or oranges. Instead of drinking caffeine, you may find that decaffeinated ginger or mint teas are soothing and help to alleviate cramps.

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A heating pad is your friend

As you’re lying on the couch watching Netflix, apply a heating pad to your lower abdomen and lower back to help ease the pain. Heat is a blessing when you have your period because it opens blood vessels and improves blood flow, which relieves pain. If you don’t have a heating pad, try a warm bath or hot towel instead.

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Stay hydrated

Water is key. Oddly enough, drinking plenty of water keeps your body from retaining water and helps to prevent bloating. Hot or warm water with a hint of lemon is better for cramps because it helps to increase blood flow and can relax cramped muscles. Eating food enriched with water is also recommended. Lettuce, celery, cucumbers, watermelon, or berries will help to increase your hydration.

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Catch some extra ZZZ’s

Sleep is crucial to a sound mind, body, and soul. Varying sleep patterns can disrupt your regular cycle, and you may notice an increase in irritability, fatigue, and stomach cramping. Listen to your body and take that short nap if needed.

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Take over-the-counter medication if needed for inflammation

When period cramps become unbearable, there are over-the-counter relief options that you can purchase. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are typically used to alleviate menstrual pain and heavy bleeding. Ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve), are among the NSAIDs recommended. If the medicine doesn’t help, contact your healthcare provider to explore other options for relief such as oral contraceptives.

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Maintain your exercise routine

Although your motivation may be lacking during this time of the month, remember the positive effect that working out has on our bodies. When exercising, your blood circulation increases, your digestive system gets to work, and you release endorphins, which can lead to less cramping. Exercising on a regular basis (three to four times a week) is beneficial to one’s overall health.

As always, listen to your body. Everyone is different and may not experience the same relief with each method.

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Rebecca Banaski, DO, MPH

Many women start taking their anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, too late into their menstrual cycle. If you have moderate to severe menstrual cramps that require you to take over-the-counter medications, it’s best to start it with the first day of menstrual flow and cramps prior to when they get severe. 

— Rebecca Banaski, D.O.,MPH

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