How to reduce and manage painful Period Cramps
There are many reasons for painful periods. While cramps are definitely common, that doesn’t mean that they are normal. Any sort of pain is a sign from your body to investigate that something is not working properly or something is out of balance.
Here are common reasons for period pain:
Period pain can be due to:
- Nutrient Deficiencies: B6, magnesium, omega-3, zinc
- Prostaglandins: inflammatory compounds released right before your period to help shed the uterine lining
- Oestrogen Dominance / Low Progesterone
- Poor Oestrogen Detox
- Gut Issues
- Lifestyle / Stress
Here are some ways to prevent period pain:
Omega 3s have anti-inflammatory properties that can help balance out prostaglandins that are anti-inflammatory products produced in the body. When produced in higher amounts, it can mean more severe cramping.
Sources- salmon (organic and wild if possible), oily fish e.g mackerel, sardines, seeds - freshly ground flaxseed, chia seeds, nuts, walnuts. Or if you are like me and don't like oily fish (bad I know!) a really good supplement.
I, adore magnesium and think it is one of the most powerful minerals out there. It’s calming and relaxing, helping to loosen tight muscles, maintain the health of our muscles (including our heart – the most important muscle), prevent migraine headaches, balance blood sugar, ease anxiety due to its role in our stress response, and ease menstrual cramps.
Sources - dark green leafy vegetables, avocado, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, almonds
Curcumin is the bioactive ingredient in turmeric and is best known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It helps to reduce inflammation and scavenges free radicals that can damage cells. Moderate or severe cramping can be an indication of inflammation in the body.
Sources - add to curries, smoothies, roasting vegetables etc or can supplement with it.
Oh, I love ginger. A study has shown that it may help with reducing abdominal cramping. For me ginger tea really helps. Steep 3-4 thinly sliced coins of ginger root in a mug of boiling water - really important the next bit - cover with a plate so the essential oils don't escape.
5. VITAMIN B6
According to research studies Vitamin B6 can reduce PMS symptoms including cramping.
Sources - chicken liver, sweet potato, eggs, avocado, spinach, carrots, salmon - or use a supplement.
Studies have shown that zinc can help prevent cramps. Many of us are zinc deficient. It can help reduce the production of pro inflammatory prostaglandins which cause cramps. It also improve blood circulation to the pelvic organs helping relieve contestation.
Sources - Oysters, shellfish, legumes, meat, seeds, nuts.
7. MANAGE STRESS:
Another one of the ways to prevent period pain is by managing stress. Stress is a response in our body that occurs when there is a mild or severe threat. This stress response makes us produce higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Since it is a hormone if you have elevated levels of cortisol, this will imbalance oestrogen, and progesterone levels. As a result, stress can make period pain worse because it will promote the inflammatory response and will also deregulate the hypothalamic-pituitary axis response in the hippocampus.
8. FOODS TO AVOID
Anything that causes inflammation i.e. anything that could cause bloating, pain, discomfort. And anything that might interfere with our sex hormone balance.
- Processed foods
- High in sugar foods, not just sugary foods, but foods which I call white carbs, e.g white bread, pasta, rice - go for the brown option.