Cure Menstrual Cramps Without Popping Pills
Molly Mann | Divine Caroline
September 01, 2010
Most women, during most months of the year, experience menstrual cramps. Some—you lucky lasses—have only mild to moderate pain during their periods. The rest of us, though, get waylaid by discomfort on a monthly basis, sometimes to the point where it interrupts our normal lives.
Sure, we can take over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, like Midol and Tylenol, and prescription therapies, like birth control pills, help as well, but if you’re not into popping pills, there are plenty of holistic remedies that can help you keep period-related pain to a minimum.
Why Is This Happening to Me?!
I ask myself this question every month, as I’m sure many women do. The answer: you’re female. Sorry.
According to the Mayo Clinic staff, women suffering from menstrual cramps, or dysmenorrhea, experience dull, throbbing, or tightening pain in their lower abdomen, which may radiate to their lower back and thighs as well. Some women also notice nausea and vomiting, loose stools, sweating, or dizziness.
This is because the uterus contracts during menstrual periods to help shed its lining. Hormonelike substances called prostaglandins trigger these contractions, and women whose bodies produce higher levels of prostaglandins tend to have more-severe cramps.
Severe period pain can also be a sign of more serious underlying conditions, however. While primary dysmenorrhea, the cramping characteristic of normal ovulatory menstrual cycles, involves no underlying gynecological problem, secondary dysmenorrhea, which tends to involve more-painful cramping, is associated with the following conditions:
• Endometriosis, in which the uterine lining, the endometrial layer, becomes implanted outside the uterus
• Uterine fibroids, noncancerous tumors that grow on the uterine walls
• Adenomyosis, in which the endometrial lining grows into the muscular walls of the uterus
• Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection of the female reproductive organs caused by sexually transmitted bacteria
• Cervical stenosis, a smaller-than-normal opening of the cervix that impedes menstrual flow, causing painful buildup within the uterus
Women who experience very painful menstrual cramps, or whose cramps have suddenly become more severe, should see their gynecologist to rule out any of these underlying problems.
Cramps are also associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), the emotional and physical changes that 80 percent of women experience between ovulation and the onset of their period. Many women are unlucky enough to suffer from both PMS and period cramps, which means two weeks of discomfort every month. Fortunately, primary dysmenorrhea tends to lessen with age and often disappears once a woman has given birth, according to the Mayo Clinic staff.