Low energy, major bloating, sour mood…it’s that time of the month again. Next comes the cramping, cravings, and maybe a little bit of crying. Countless women know the horror of a painful period and the debilitating effects it can have on their bodies and lives. It’s not uncommon to miss work, school, or other important events due to particularly awful menstruation. If you’re a woman who literally feels the pain, there’s hope. While medical treatments such as prescription medications or the pill are helpful and even necessary for some women, there are plenty of natural, at-home remedies that can soothe your reproductive system. Check out our favorite tried and true tips for a happier, healthier period.
Heat Things Up
The old heating pad is one of the oldest tricks in the period book, and for good reason. While this old-fashioned remedy may seem like an outdated treatment for painful cramping, it’s stood the test of time because it works. In fact, multiple studies have shown that applying heat is equally as effective as ibuprofen in treating pain associated with period cramps. If you are someone who is negatively affected by pain medication, or just want a more natural solution, try turning up the heat for some fast relief.
Add Essential Oils
Just in case you didn’t already have enough reasons to love essential oils, they are wonderfully effective in making periods lighter and less painful. In a clinical trial to test the effects of essential oils on dysmenorrhea, a variety of essential oils were applied on participants every day for a week leading up to their periods. Those who used the oils has significantly less pain and bleeding than the group who didn’t. If you want to set yourself up for a more manageable time of the month, treat yourself to some healing lavender or rose aromatherapy a few days before you start. Your body will thank you for it, and you’ll enjoy having a less painful period.
While working out may be the last thing on your mind during a painful period, it might be exactly that your body needs. While it seems counterintuitive, experts say that light to moderate exercise is a powerful weapon to fight the period from hell. Aerobic exercise in particular is effective because it causes your body to release endorphins, which acts as a pain reliever and helps to keep muscle contractions at bay. But if hopping on the treadmill sounds like a fate worse than death, gentle yoga is another wonderful way to find relief. No matter what you decide to do, studies show that you’ll get better results if you make a point of staying active all month long, and not just when Aunt Flow is in town.
Before you dive head first into a bag of potato chips, know that what you eat has a huge effect on how you feel during your period. There’s a pervasive myth that having your period is a free pass to pig out on junk food and that it can even help you feel better. While you should always listen to your body’s hunger signals and eat intuitively, “comfort” foods may bring some seriously uncomfortable side effects. Sugar can trigger cramping, salt increases water retention, and foods with high amounts of saturated fat can make your flow heavier and more excruciating.
Alternatively, eating a plant-based, whole foods diet has been shown to ease negative period symptoms. Try to consume foods that are anti-inflammatory and rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium to balance all of the changes happening during this part of your cycle.
And if your body is begging for something sweet, you’re in luck. We can confirm that the rumors are true and dark chocolate is actually great for your body during your period, thanks to its high levels of magnesium and iron. Plus, eating chocolate actually reduces stress and boosts serotonin and dopamine – so go ahead and treat yo self.
What you drink can dramatically affect how you feel both before and during your period. The most obvious way to ease the pain is to increase water intake, which can help to reduce bloating due to water retention. Because hydration is so important during this time, it’s best to avoid beverages that contain caffeine and alcohol, which will dry you out and worsen symptoms. Herbal tea is a delicious and soothing alternative that is beneficial in improving your period. Ginger and cinnamon teas have anti-inflammatory properties, while chamomile tea increases glycerin, both of which help to relieve cramps. So grab a cup, a cozy blanket, and make period pain a thing of the past.
What natural remedies do you turn to for a painful period?
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