Menstrual cramps are as old as time. Throughout history our ancestors have tried many different things to help us against these little ninjas that cut your uterus to pieces. For example, in the medieval times, people believed that burning a toad, putting its ashes in a pouch and then placing the pouch near your vaginal area helps with relieving cramps. As popular as burning everything and everyone was at the time - menstrual cramps continued to live on.
This is because the reason why menstrual cramps exist is because they are an actual, physical contraction of the uterus. These contractions and the shedding of the thick uterine lining that was prepared for a fertile egg cell, cause us to curl up in bed and wait for our period to be over.
There’s still some things you can do - related to both nutrition and physical activity - that can help you relieve menstrual cramps:
1. Dark chocolate
The news is already good, right? ;) Eating chocolate during our period may already be a mission for some of us - but now we can feel good about it! Stick to the dark chocolate though. Eating dark chocolate will boost your endorphins (the happy hormones) and increase your feel-good, energetic mood. Endorphins are basically our body’s natural pain killer. Dark chocolate also contains magnesium, which helps with relieving abdominal pains.
This is something you’ve probably heard before, but are you really doing it? Water is a natural antioxidant that eases the bloating or cramping during your period. A lot of people recommend drinking warm water during your period if you’re experiencing cramps. However, warm water without any flavor would be a little strange for most of us, so making ginger tea or adding a few slices of lemon might help. Warm water will increase the blood flow in your body, and relieve cramps.
Is there anything, really, that onions don’t help with? Onions contain allicin (this agent gives onions their peculiar smell). Allicin acts similar to warm water; it helps you increase the blood flow and with this relieves the bloating and the cramps.
Moving while being bloated and feeling like your uterus is going to explode is probably not the first thing on your agenda, but even a little bit of exercise can work miracles for your body in so many ways. You don’t have to go for a 40 minute run around the block during your period to relieve the cramps. Even a gentle, light exercise where you properly stretch and increase your blood flow a little bit can go a long way. Exercise helps with both cramps and bloating, as well as body pain. It also improves your energy and your mood.
You can also start doing light exercise a few days before your period begins.
5. Menstrual cups instead of tampons
A lot of the time it is our choices that make or break our health. It is no secret that using tampons can cause cramps and discomfort during your period, as they are fueled with chemicals that you put directly into your body. Replace those tampons with reusable menstrual cups. Cups are made of medical-grade, toxin free silicone - the same that is used in medicine to make body implants. They are a much better choice than the traditional tampons. Cups also mould to your shape once inserted - relieving the pressure to your cervix and vaginal walls, and providing the blood an easy flow. A lot of women that use cups have reported reduced cramps or no cramps at all!
All in all, a mix of good diet, physical activity and making healthy choices when it comes to the period products that you use will help you have a more comfortable, cramp-free period.