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How To Reduce Period Pain And Cramps

Period cramps and menstrual pain

For many of us period pain and cramps are part of our normal monthly cycle, to varying degrees; some will experience a dull ache while others suffer severe pain and then; there are the lucky few who experience neither.

Our periods can also vary, meaning that some months we experience pain and other months are pain free.

Getting to know our menstrual cycle can help us understand whether we simply need to reach for the hot water bottle or seek medical advice.

In this blog post we are going to be looking into what causes a painful period and if it is possible to reduce period pain cramps.

What causes period pain (Dysmenorrhea)?

Period pain also known as Dysmenorrhea occurs as the muscular wall of the uterus (womb) tightens and contracts.

Like any muscle, your uterus will be contracting and relaxing a little throughout your menstrual cycle; these contractions are often so mild they are barely noticeable. However, during your period, as the uterus begins to shed its endometrial lining, the contractions of the uterus will become more vigorous due to the release of hormone-like substances called Prostaglandins (they can also contribute to the nausea and diarrhoea some of us experience at this time).

These contractions enable your uterus to shed its thickened endometrial lining effectively and travel down through your cervix (neck of the womb) and vagina resulting in your menstrual flow or period. As your uterus is contracting, the blood vessels lining your womb are compressed, momentarily cutting off the blood and oxygen supply to your uterus before it relaxes again. The temporary lack of oxygen causes the tissue of the uterus to release chemicals that trigger pain- similar to other muscles in your body that are working hard!

Sadly we still don’t know why some of us will feel more period pain than others. It is thought that some of us may have higher levels of Prostaglandins which could cause stronger contractions.

How to relieve period cramps

The good news is that there are ways to help relieve period pains!

Here are our top 5 things to consider when managing your menstrual cramps:

1. Diet & Lifestyle

Did you know that diet can have both a positive and negative effect on your menstrual cycle?

The modern diet is full of processed foods high in sugar, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and additives. These foods lack the vital nutrients the body needs and can upset your hormonal equilibrium. Weight loss diets and restricting certain foods can also make us nutritionally deficient.

Healthy levels of Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamins B and D and Omega 3 fatty acids have all been linked to reducing the discomfort of period cramps. Treat yourself to something nutritious and delicious and help knock the cramps on the head.

Diet and lifestyle tips to improve painful periods:

  • Eat an unprocessed diet, low in saturated fat, high in fibre and essential fats
  • Reduce your intake of alcohol, caffeine and smoking
  • Reduce your processed food and sugar intake
  • Try this smoothie for period pain is said to ‘bring you back to life when menstrual cramps and fatigue hit’
  • Keep yourself hydrated *top tip:  get into the habit of taking your reusable water bottle everywhere you go – check for any local refill schemes available!

A post shared by @kittiekipper on

Image credit @kittiekipper

2. Get moving: Exercise for period pain

Physical activity and aerobic exercise give your circulation a boost and get the blood pumping round your body, which helps you feel energised and produces your feel-good endorphins. As well as helping you feel more positive, your natural endorphins can help combat pain by interacting with the neuron receptors in your brain. Think of them as your natural pain-busting friends!
Gentle swimming, walking, cycling and even hula hooping can also do the trick!

Yoga for menstruation
However we know that sometimes exercise can feel like the last thing you want to do while on your period so if you don’t fancy hitting the gym don’t worry, there are some quick and easy yoga stretches known to reduce menstrual cramps.

(If you’re a yoga fan, you might want to check out our FAQ: Is it ok to use a Mooncup in upside down postures?)

Bridge Pose – Image credit Yoga Journal

 Check these out from Yoga Journal

3. Use a Mooncup menstrual cup

Over the years we have had some great feedback from happy customers to tell us that using the Mooncup menstrual cup has helped to relieve their menstrual cramps!

“I really can’t thank you enough for such a fantastic product. It took a couple of tries to get used to inserting and removing, but now I will never go back! My period pain is reduced and I feel so much cleaner and more comfortable during my period. I honestly forget I am wearing the mooncup because it is so comfortable! Really glad that it’s good for the environment and now I don’t dread my period like I used to!”
Lauren – 14th July 2017

Read more testimonials about the Mooncup helping cramps and period pain

4. Take time out

Take some time out for yourself wherever possible.  Have a hot bath, go to bed an hour earlier, prep some tasty food for the week, or snuggle up under the duvet with a hot water bottle and your favourite series!

It may seem like an oldie, but using a hot water bottle or heating pad has been scientifically shown to reduce pain from menstrual cramps, as well as being super-comforting! (Journal of Physiotherapy 2014). Gently massaging your tummy or lower back and comfortably positioning yourself lying down with your knees elevated can also be soothing.

Ok, these tips may not be the miracle cure for period cramps but a little nurturing goes a long way during your period.

5. Tune in and go with the (menstrual) flow

Rest, be kind to yourself and take time to reflect as you transition from one cycle to the next. For those wanting to explore their cycle further, this can be a great time to take a breather and look back at your journey over the course of your past cycle and, as you move through your period, what you’d like to manifest over the course of this new one!

If you’re keen to explore your menstrual cycle further take a look at the work of The Red School.

What is a normal amount of period pain?

Everyone’s period will differ but how do you know what a normal amount of period pain is, what is extreme period pain; in other words, when is it time to get medical advice?

If the pain is enough to affect your day to day living, getting increasingly severe, happening outside of your period or leaving you feeling concerned you should visit your healthcare provider. Occasionally, period-like pains can be caused by an underlying condition such as Endometriosis, Fibroids, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease; so getting to know your period and recognising the patterns of your period pain and symptoms such as cramps can be critical in knowing when your experience is out of the ordinary.

Keeping track of period symptoms

There are many period apps that help you keep track of your symptoms and if or when they reoccur. They can be really helpful tools in creating a clear picture of your experience and knowing when you need out for help.

While it might not be possible to completely avoid the discomfort of period pains, there are things you can do to help understand your period and to make it more comfortable and manageable along the way.  Listen to your body and see what feels right for you.

Featured image. Lightning bolt. Derek Thomson

Read more on the Mooncup Blog

How is the Mooncup Environmentally Friendly?
Five Top Tips for a Healthy Vulva and Vagina
Hymen or Vaginal Corona?

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