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Menstrual cramps, period pain

Menstrual Cramps – All you need to know

In India, menstruation has proven to be a bit of a taboo. Considered dirty and impure, women avoid speaking about their periods in public and shopkeepers package sanitary napkins in opaque black plastic. Yet, all women experience the emotional and physical ebbs and flows of the menstrual cycle. For some women, their periods can feel like the worst part of the month. Ladies far and wide find themselves curled up under blankets, cradling hot water bottles in attempts to soothe the pain.

What causes period or menstrual cramps?

On the most part, cramping is considered a normal part of the menstrual cycle. A common experience, three out of four women report having cramps during their period. The likely cause of most menstrual cramps has been linked to hormone-like compounds called prostaglandins that are released as the uterine lining begins to shed. Although prostaglandins facilitate the uterine contractions that help expel the uterine lining, they can cause extreme pain when produced in excess.

Severe menstrual cramps can also be caused by medical conditions such as endometriosis or adenomyosis. If your cramps are particularly bad, you should reach out to your doctor. Since female pain is often overlooked and under-treated, we encourage you to advocate for yourself and seek out treatment from an OB/GYN healthcare provider near you. 

Five well known methods you can try to soothe your cramps at home: –

Heat

In the face of livid menstrual cramps, heat compresses through hot water bottles and warm baths are a tried and tested method for relief. Some studies have shown heat to be as effective as NSAIDs and aspirin for menstrual cramp pain.

Ginger

It seems ginger may also be as effective as common painkillers, some clinical trials suggest. Ingestion of an eighth of a teaspoon of ginger three times a day during one’s period is reported to be helpful for cramps and reduction of bleeding.

Exercise

Certain low stress workouts have been found to ease bloating, back and leg pain caused by menstruation. Increasing blood circulation in the affected area while also strengthening it contributes greatly to pain relief.

Lifestyle (Alcohol and Tobacco)

During one’s period, it is recommended to refrain from the use of drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. All are known to increase inflammation and can lead to worsened pain.

Orgasm

The release of endorphins such as oxytocin and dopamine through sexual activity is a strong line of defense against period pains. The power of endorphins in reducing pain is as strong, if not stronger, than many over-the-counter painkillers. Although a pain relief method that is slightly off the beaten path, it is surely worth considering.

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Author: Dr Deepika Agarwal
Backed by over two decades of clinical experience, Dr. Deepika Aggarwal is one of the most trusted obstetricians and gynaecologists in Gurgaon. She is recognized internationally for her contributions to the field of obstetrics and gynaecology and is a member of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, London. She specializes in high-risk pregnancies, managing recurrent pregnancy losses, endoscopic surgeries, cervical screening for cancers, and normal deliveries post-cesarean section.
 
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