Cramps are one of the awful parts of being on your period. But luckily, there are ways to ease the pain and get through those days without completely hating life. While every woman is different, you'll likely to feel better with these five strategies. So grab a chocolate bar and get to reading!
1. Heating Pad
During your period, as your uterus is shedding its lining, it cramps up. Putting a heating pad on your lower stomach can help relax the muscles from contracting. Pair that with massaging the area and you're set!
"Ibuprofen works really well for uterine cramps," said Stephanie Long, MD, a family medicine physician at OneMedical. But what women may not realize is that ibuprofen can even lighten bleeding. It works best when used regularly, like three times a day during the heaviest days. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!
3. Birth Control
Birth control isn't just for preventing pregnancy. "I think the biggest missed opportunity [for easing period pain] is birth control," Long said. Contraception can lessen cramping pain and lighten bleeding. For some women, birth control can reduce their periods to just four times a year. And one in eight women using the Mirena IUD (safely) don't experience a period at all.
Exercising causes the body to release endorphins, which not only lift your mood, but also interact with opiate receptors in the brain to reduce pain. Consider starting out with some light cardio or yoga and listen to your body from there! Here's how to know if you're doing too much exercise during your time of the month.
5. Naturopathic Approaches
More and more medical doctors are using holistic methods to ease menstrual cramps. "They can be really effective for a particular woman, but they have to be used in conjunction with a professional who's walking them through it," Long said. Inositol is one supplement available over-the-counter that some women have found success with. In Long's experience, patients have come in talking about other holistic approaches that have helped them like taking chasteberry or using acupuncture. However, most physicians will probably have to consult another professional who specializes in the area.