Do you dread your monthly cycles? Are they interfering with your daily life and holding you back from reaching your potential?
For a lot of women around the world, period pain is a serious issue. It’s not an excuse to bunk work or skip school/college. It’s a real health condition that hampers day to day activities and life.
It’s estimated that 50%-70% of women all over the world experience some degree of period pain and cramping. These cramps can strike right before or during menstruation. In fact, many women get them routinely. Menstrual cramps, that can range from mild to severe crippling ones, are usually felt in the lower belly, back or thighs. Though they affect all ages of menstruating women, they usually happen for the first time, a year or two after a girl first gets her period. With age, they usually become less painful and may stop entirely after you have your first baby. Your doctor may call your cramps “dysmenorrhea”.
What Causes Them
The explanation lies in the fact that a woman’s uterus (womb) must shed its inner lining each month – and this job requires contractions in the uterus, which is a muscle. As the uterus contracts, it can press against nearby blood vessels – reducing the blood flow in them. If the contractions are too strong, due to this constriction, the supply of oxygen to the uterus can get briefly interrupted. It’s this lack of oxygen that gives you pain and cramping.
For some women, the hormonal changes that trigger menstruation may be more pronounced, causing the uterus to contract even more vigorously and more painfully.
Chances are, you know all too well how it feels. You may have:
- Aching pain in your belly (sometimes severe)
- Feeling of pressure in your belly
- Pain in the hips, lower back, and inner thighs
When cramps are severe, symptoms may include:
- Upset stomach, sometimes with vomiting
- Loose stools
What You Can Do
If you have mild menstrual cramps, generally a little bit of rest is all you would need. In addition take aspirin or another pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. For best relief, you must take these medications as soon as bleeding or cramping starts.
Massaging your lower back and abdomen helps.
Hot fomentation can also be useful. Place a heating pad, a heat patch or hot water bottle on your lower back or tummy.
Taking a warm bath may provide some relief.
Also, during menstrual cramps, it’s better to avoid foods that contain caffeine and salt. Do not use tobacco or drink alcohol.
Make exercise a part of your daily routine. It helps release endorphins or feel-good hormones that help in reducing pain.
Increasing magnesium intake helps in reducing the cramps by a direct action on nerves and muscles. Magnesium is obtained from spinach and almonds.
According to a study reported by Health.com high doses of vitamin D3 before periods led to a significant decrease in menstrual cramps.
Period pain is primary when it is not associated with any pelvic pathology and is usually seen in post-puberty age groups (18 to 25 years). Secondary dysmenorrhea is the term your doctor uses if he or she detects a pathology in your reproductive organs that can be causing you these cramps. These conditions could be:
- Endometriosis: a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus (endometrium) is found outside of the uterus.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): an infection caused by bacteria that starts in the uterus and can spread to other reproductive organs.
- Stenosis (narrowing) of the cervix or the lower part of the uterus, caused by scarring, or less amount of estrogen in your system.
- PCOD or polycystic ovarian disease.
- Fibroids in the inner wall of the uterus.
- Using Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices (IUCD) for birth control.
When to Call a Doctor
If you have severe or unusual menstrual cramps or cramping that lasts for more than 2 or 3 days, consult your physician. Menstrual cramps, whatever the cause, are treatable.
- Ibuprofen (higher dose than is available over the counter) or other prescription pain relievers.
- Oral contraceptives (Women taking birth control pills have less menstrual pain).
If it turns out that your cramps aren’t due to your period, you might need other tests to find the right treatment.
- Your doctor might do a pelvic/internal examination to look into your vagina and cervix. She may take a small sample of vaginal fluid for testing, and check your uterus and ovaries for anything that doesn’t feel normal.
- You might need to go in for an ultrasound or a CT Scan to rule out conditions like fibroids, endometriosis, PCOD, etc.
Homoeopathy – The best line of treatment
Homoeopathy is a natural, safe and non-toxic method of treatment for effectively curing ailments ranging from mild infections to severe organ malfunctions. It comes without any side effects which can be detrimental to the general well being of the patient. In cases of dysmenorrhoea, it straightaway hits at the root cause of the ailment rather than providing just a painkiller-effect, which anyways would always be temporary. After taking the appropriate individualized medicine for some duration your period pain can become a thing of the past.
Here are a few Homoeopathic remedies known to ease and cure menstrual cramps:
- Belladonna is known to provide relief from violent, throbbing muscle spasms in the lower abdomen that come suddenly during the course of menstruation. It controls profuse bleeding and prevents blood clots. It is also known to keep irritability and depression in check during this time period.
- Chamomilla is prescribed to patients who are hypersensitive to pain and easily lose mental and emotional stability. The pain is sharp and stinging and extends down to the inner thighs. There are blood clots and profuse bleeding, causing agonizing discomfort to the patient.
- Pulsatilla is prescribed to patients who grow extremely sensitive, depressed and suffer from temporary mental breakdowns during the menstruating period. The cramps are accompanied by nausea and dizziness.
- Magnesia Phos is prescribed to patients who find a little relief from warm applications, bending forward and comforting food or beverages. This is mostly given to women who feel the cramps centered on the uterus but radiating to all sides.
- Caulophyllum is meant for women who feel the onset of painful cramps before the menstruation begins. Lower abdominal pain, dizziness and a sudden spell of malaise precede the menstruation.
- Apis is meant for women who feel sharp stinging pain near the ovaries, accompanied with dark red mucous and the urine is generally very scanty and dark-colored. It is very effective in cases where cysts (PCOD) is concomitant.
- Veratrum Album is given to patients who have severe cramps accompanied by diarrhea and nausea.
- Viburnum opulus is excellent for congestive and spasmodic menstrual pain as a consequence of endometrial ischemia, high levels of prostaglandins (hormone-like substances involved in pain and inflammation that trigger uterine contractions) and other inflammatory mediators.
Note:: If you are unable to find a long term relief by popping-in palliative painkillers and are back to where you started from every cycle, do visit a homoeopathic physician for an effective cure.