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How to manage period pain

In theory, period pain should improve considerably with some simple changes to lifestyle & diet.  I frequently see women coming into clinic suffering unnecessarily with pain each month, along with premenstrual symptoms that are debilitating & interfere with their life.  By taking a case history, looking at food intake & how they are living, it gives me the clues to where there might be issues we can help to fix.  For example, reducing foods that are inflammatory in nature (sometimes the ones we think are ‘healthy options’) & replacing them with foods, fluids & herbs that are anti inflammatory can be life changing!

Some tips to try if you are currently experiencing period pain:

Heat!  For many women this is obvious, but keeping your body warm all over is a key way to support potential cramping of the uterine muscles that cause pain.  Using a heat pack as much as possible, or buy heat sticker pads & apply them to the pelvic area so you can go about your day.  It is also important to keep your feet & back warm – no walking around on cold tiles, wear slippers & avoid sitting draughts.  Another yummy way to infuse your body with heat is to have a soak in the bath, preferably with epsom salts or magnesium flakes as this helps to relax the muscles and calm your mind.

That brings me nicely to Magnesium – known as the ‘great relaxer’ – think cramping, tension, headaches, irritability, insomnia, and chocolate cravings!  Magnesium is a game changer for period issues including pain.  Make sure you get a good quality form such as citrate or glycinate – these are more readily absorbed by the body, and a dose of 400-600mg each day is beneficial, particularly around period time.

Ginger & chamomile both have a spasmolytic action in the body, which means they relax the muscles that are cramping to bring relief.  Use ginger in cooking, or in a warm drink.  Mixing the two together as a tea is a great idea!  Steep for at least 10-15 minutes so its nice & strong.  The ginger also provides internal heat & relieves nausea, which can bring a sense of comfort.  Chamomile is a nervine that reduces tension, anxiety & insomnia.  Both herbs are also anti-inflammatory, reducing prostaglandins that create pain signals.

Omega 3 fats from fish oils, algae, fish such as salmon & sardines, walnuts & hemp are all anti inflammatory in nature – so having these regularly as part of your diet will support the reduction of those prostaglandins that lead to pain.  On the flip side, reducing your intake of refined foods & trans fats in fast foods will reduce the production of inflammation in the first place, so applying both rules will give you better results.

Reducing alcohol intake, particularly in the week before your period will help to reduce inflammation & pain – studies have shown that 2 standard drinks daily can double the exposure to oestrogen – which leads to the type of hormone imbalances that cause pain.

Probiotics – studies on a particular strain (lactobacillus casei) showed the ability to help with oestrogen balance. By supporting the clearing out of used hormones there was an improvement in PMS & pain symptoms overall.  Even having some fermented foods daily to support the gut is a great health tip – try miso, kombucha, live plain yoghurts, sauerkraut, kefir & kimchi – a little of something each day is sufficient.

And finally orgasms!  Having a regular orgasm helps improve blood circulation into the pelvic area – which supports healthy flow & release by the uterus when it is time to bleed.  I see many women with signs of low oxygenation to the pelvic area, namely dark colour to their menses or clotting.  Once oxygen delivery improves there can often be significant changes to their periods overall.

If pain symptoms are debilitating & not improving with simple changes, there may be underlying symptoms to explore.  In clinic I love to help women with straightforward, affordable & practical help to get to their own best place.  Contact me for further details or a discovery call to see if I am the right fit for your needs.

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