Menstrual cramps are also called amenorrhea. Some people also call them period pains. This is sensational pain felt in lower abdomen during or before the menstrual period. This pain is very common in many women and it ranges from dull pain to annoying and severe pain. It also becomes extreme in some cases. Basically, menstrual cramps begin once the egg has been released in the ovaries and they can continue as the egg move down the fallopian tube. This pain is classified into two categories. There is the primary dysmenorrheal and secondary dysmenorrheal. Primary cramps are characterized a pain experienced in the lower back and abdomen. This pain may start one or two days before menses and it can last from two to four days. No underlying causes of this pain. Secondary dysmenorrheal is usually characterized by pain associated with identifiable causes such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis and pelvic inflammation, among other medical conditions. There are times when menstrual cramps cause discomfort such that the woman cannot perform any task.
Causes of Menstrual Cramps
There are different causes of menstrual cramps. Some of these causes can be avoided by proper dietary while others are medical conditions that may require medical treatment. They include the following;
- Uterine contractions: Each month, a woman usually has a menstrual period. When there egg is not fertilized after release it is expelled by the contraction of the uterus lining. Prostaglandin which is a hormone-like substance drives this process. This substance is also associated with inflammation and pain in some women. Uterine contractions cause menstrual cramps as they inhibit proper flow of blood in the endometrium or the uterus lining.
- Leukotrienes are also other causes of menstrual cramps. These substances are elevated during the menstruation period. These cause menstrual cramps in some women.
- Delayed sleep syndrome is another cause of cramps in women during menopause. This is common in women with irregular or premenstrual symptoms.
- Other underlying factors such as endometriosis may cause menstrual cramps. This is a tissue that can develop on the outer side of the uterus.
- Uterine fibroids: This is a growth or non-cancerous tumor found on the uterine wall.
- Pelvic inflammation disease: This is an infection that is usually transmitted sexually. It results from a bacterium.
- Adenomyosis: This is a tissue that grows on the uterus' masculine wall.
- Cervical stenosis: This is a situation where a woman has a small cervix opening that limits the flow of menses.
- Backward uterus lifting can also cause menstrual cramps. This can also be referred to as retroverted uterus.
- Poor dietary. For instance lack of fruits and sufficient fibers in the diet. Eating too much sugar or sweeteners can also make symptoms more severe.
Symptoms of Menstrual Cramps
There are different signs that can be used in diagnosing menstrual cramps. Majority of women who usually experience cramps are able to identify them when they start. Such women do not have to go to hospital or see a physician since they are conversant with the symptoms of menstrual cramps. However, in cases where there is extreme pain help of a doctor is important. Images of the vagina, abdominal area, cervix or the uterus and the fallopian tube may be necessary. Computerized tomography, ultrasound, MRI, laparoscopy and hysteroscopy are used in identifying the symptoms of menstrual cramps. Nevertheless, the most identifiable symptoms of menstrual cramps include;
- Thighs and lower back pain
- Throbbing, dull, and cramping pain on the lower abdominal area
- Sweating and vomiting
- Diarrhea and dizziness
- Constipation and loose stools
- Faint feeling
Menstrual Cramps Home remedies
There are a number of home remedies that have been used by women with menstrual cramps. The following home treatments have been proven to relieve pain associated with menstrual cramps; Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies and herbal remedies yourself! Here are some of the home remedies that you can try.
- Exercise: Exercises are very important in reducing pain resulting from cramps. It is advisable that if you have a routine workout, you stick to it when having menstrual cramps.
- Heat: Use of hot water in a bottle, heating pad or even hot baths have also been proven to be very effective home remedies for cramps. However, it is important to be cautious so as to avoid burning yourself while relaxing the tense muscles using heat.
- Go to the bathroom– Emptying the bladder every time there is a urine urge is also another important home remedy.
- Herbal Tea– Herbal teas are also another important home remedy for menstrual cramps. They include raspberry, chamomile, blackberry and mint. These can help in soothing tensed muscles. They can also help in soothing anxious moods.
- Hot liquids: Drinking hot liquids is also an effective home remedy for menstrual cramps. This is because warmth of these fluids helps in increasing the flow of blood in the pelvic region. It also helps in relaxing muscles. Such drinks include warmed lemonade and herbal teas.
- Ginger: Ginger is an effective home remedy for menstrual cramps. Just boil pound pieces of ginger in one cup of clean water for some minutes. You can use sugar to sweeten it then drink after meals on daily basis.
- Parsley: This home remedy increases menstruation as well as aiding in the regulation of monthly period. It also treats the pain that results from menstrual cramps. For the best results, parsley should be made of carrot, beet and juice from cucumber.
- Minerals and Vitamins: These are very effective in relieving pain that result from menstrual cramps. Eating foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals can help in relieving pain that result from menstrual pain. You can also take minerals and vitamin supplements.
- Cinnamon: This product has both antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties. These helps in easing the pain that results from muscle cramps. Cinnamon can be sprinkled on the tea or breakfast of the person having menstrual cramps.
- Basil: This has pain-killing component known as the caffeic acid. It give someone having muscle cramp relief. It can be used when cooking as a spice or even used in tea. Two tablespoons are enough in a pint of boiled water. One cup or half every hour of basil solution ca help in easing menstrual cramps.
- Magnesium: Magnesium helps in alleviating pain that may result from menstrual cramps. When taken before or even during periods, magnesium helps in the absorption of calcium.
- Yoga: There are yoga stretches that can help in relieving pain that results from menstrual cramps. They also offer relaxation to muscles which has a positive impact in relieving pain.
- Kitchen towel: This is an option for those without a bottle of hot water. Just soak it in warm water, wring our excessive water and place it on the microwave to heat up. Place it on your abdomen taking care that you do not burn the skin.
- Sexual intercourse: Having sex is also an effective home remedy for menstrual cramps. This is because having an orgasm facilitates muscle movements which enhance blood flow in the organs with congestion causing pain.
- Peppermint– Peppermint is one of the commonly used herbs for treat menstrual cramps. It offers are numbing and calming effect that makes it effective for treating headaches, flatulence and diarrhea. You can take it as tea and it is advisable to take four to five cups a day. It also comes in form of capsules and you can take them up to three times a day.
- Ginger– Ginger is also used to alleviate dysmenorrhea as it has great pain-relieving ingredients and also six anti-cramping compounds. It also a great herb for reducing inflammation that is common during menstruation. You can use the ginger roots to make tea and consume a number of cups three times daily.
- Bilberry– You can also use bilberry to treat menstrual cramps. It has effective anthocyanidins chemicals that offer a muscle-relaxing effect. You can eat the fruit of this herb or prepare tea with it. 80 to 200 mg of the herb can be a great for you as it has side effects if consumed in excess.
- Raspberry Leaves– Raspberry leaves are also an effective remedy for dysmenorrhea. You can use them to prepare a soothing tea that will help you relieve menstrual cramps and also relax the uterus and prevent any possible infections. You can take the tea for a number of times a day and you will get rid of the symptoms of menstrual cramps.
- Pycnogenol– Pycnogenol is also a great herbal remedy for menstrual cramps extracted from bark of pine trees. It helps reduce pain during menstrual periods.
- Try These– Lastly, you can also get the best Chinese herbs that help cure and reduce the effects of menstrual cramps. Some of the effective Chinese herbs are red peony root, cinnamon bark, fennel fruit, licorice root and Chinese angelica root to name but a few.
Diet for Menstrual Cramps
There are foods that have proven to be effective in relieving pain that results from menstrual cramps. Such foods include fresh fruits, whole grains and vegetables. A good diet for a woman having menstrual cramps should have these foods. It should also be rich in magnesium and calcium. Some of the foods that a woman should eat while having muscle cramps to help her in alleviating pain include;
- Kale and broccoli
- Bread and wheat pastas
- Chocolate. This acts as an antioxidant. It also helps in controlling moods
- Flax seeds. This should be sprinkled over cereal
- Fish with high amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Brown rice, oatmeal, and other whole grain foods
- Legumes such as peas, beans and lentils
- Spinach, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and swis chard
Basically the best foods to eat while having menstrual cramps are the ones that have high amounts of fiber; majority of such foods are from plants. Animal products do not have fiber. Thus, they are not good as part of a diet of someone having cramps. Therefore, it is important to avoid such foods. Foods such as yogurt and chicken products should be avoided as they prevents your from meeting the required amount of fibers in the body.
Prevention of Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual pain can be prevented. However, this is possible if you are keen on what you eat and what you avoid. To prevent menstrual cramps;
- Adopt a balanced diet. This should be rich in vegetables and fruits.
- Your diet should have low amounts of fats
- Lower your caffeine, alcohol, sweet and salt intake
- Have a regular and moderate exercise program. You may seek help of a physician to guide you on the best exercises
- Avoid stress in life. Although stress is not a major cause of cramps, avoiding it makes the pain resulting from cramps less severe.
- Avoid tobacco product or even smoking
- Have some yoga or biofeedback sessions. These trains a patient on important relaxation skills which can help in preventing menstrual cramps pain. Acupressure or acupuncture can also help in relieving cramps pain.
Generally, adopting a proper lifestyle can help in preventing menstrual cramps. Make sure that you eat well and have a regular exercise program.
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