How to Alleviate Menstrual Cramps

Kate Willett with Healthline

About 80% of women who menstruate have reported PMS symptoms. Women suffering from PMS may experience cramps, bloating, headaches, back pain, and breast tenderness. For some women, PMS symptoms are annoying, for others they can be completely debilitating. In any case, if you’re suffering from PMS, chances are, you wish you weren’t.

While scientists and physicians have long speculated on the causes of PMS, recent research suggests that PMS is caused by inflammation triggered by a biomarker called C-reactive protein (CRP), indicating that the best way to treat PMS may be reducing inflammation through anti-inflammatory medication and natural methods of reducing inflammation.

Today’s blog post outlines some potential strategies women can use to combat inflammation that may result in monthly discomfort or pain. Please note that if you’re suffering from severe menstrual cramps, it’s important to consult your doctor as they may be caused by endometriosis or uterine fibroids.

Natural Strategies for Reducing Inflammation

Changes to your diet may also help reduce the inflammation causing menstrual pain. While many foods and supplements can be part of an anti-inflammatory diet, we’ve outlined some of the most potent options here.

Consume Omega-3’s

Omega-3’s, found in fish (salmon, tuna, halibut), and various nut and seed oils, have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3’s can also be consumed in supplement form.

A study published in the May 2000 issue of the journal Nutrition Research, showed that omega-3 fatty acid supplements along with vitamin B12 helped significantly reduce discomfort associated with menstrual cramps.

Take Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your body process calcium and may reduce inflammation. The research is still at early stages, but findings suggest vitamin D may be effective in treating menstrual cramps. Vitamin D is available in supplement form or can be consumed through dietary sources such as fish, eggs, and fortified milk.

Eat Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, which studies have shown to reduce inflammation. To get the most antioxidants, focus on colorful fruits and vegetables, such as berries, peppers, citrus fruits, broccoli, spinach, and kale.

Avoid Sugar

Sugar is a strong contributor to inflammation. Avoiding or reducing sugar may reduce menstrual pain. Sugar lurks in most processed foods, so check labels for maximum effect.

Anti-Inflammatory Medication

NSAIDS

NSAIDS, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Naproxen (available over-the-counter as Aleve) or Ibuprofen (available over-the-counter as Advil) are commonly used to treat arthritis, muscle and joint pain, and menstrual pain. Recent research confirms that NSAIDs are more effective than placebos in treating menstrual pain. Research suggests that Naproxen may be more effective in treating severe menstrual cramps than it is for moderate menstrual cramps.

If you decide to use NSAIDS, start taking the medicine at the beginning of your period or when you feel symptoms, and continue for two or three days or until symptoms have gone away. NSAIDS may be hard on your stomach, so they are best taken with food. A typical dose of Naproxen for menstrual pain is 550 mg taken every 12 hours or 275 mg taken every 6–8 hours as needed.

NSAIDS may cause side effects or have negative interactions with other medications, so it’s important to consult with your doctor before taking this medication.

Note from the editor: NSAIDS may have a blood thinning and can increase the bleeding.

Whether you decide to use NSAIDS or reduce inflammation naturally, through treating inflammation, you may find maximum relief of your menstrual discomfort.

About the Author:



Kate Willett is a freelance writer located in Los Angeles, CA. She writes about health, politics, and comedy. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.



References:

  1. http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jwh.2015.5529?journalCode=jwh
  2. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/period-pain-scientists-finally-work-out-why-menstruation-hurts-so-much-a7092981.html
  3. http://www.healthline.com/drugs/naproxen/oral-tablet#Highlights1
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072507/
  5. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menstrual-cramps/basics/treatment/con-20025447
  6. http://www.healthline.com/drugs/naproxen/oral-tablet#Dosage4
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6571974
  8. http://www.livestrong.com/article/496885-does-omega-3-affect-your-period/
  9. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/vitamin-d-pms-menstrual-cramps-italy_n_1305127.html
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7922442

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