Cramping, bloating, mood swings, lower back pain, headache, fatigue, heavy bleeding – “This ‘natural process’ is our passage into womanhood? Seriously? Why can’t I just be a boy!?” (Yes that’s me complaining every 28 days, while being curled up in bed with a hot water bottle).
Did you know that dysmenorrhea i.e. extreme period pain interferes with the daily activities of 1 in every 5 women according to the American Academy of Family Physicians? John Guillebaud, Professor of Reproductive Health at University College London, says that research shows period pain can at times be as “bad as having a heart attack”. Heart attack. Take a minute to think about that.
“Men don’t get it and it hasn’t been given the centrality it should have. I do believe it’s something that should be taken care of, like anything else in medicine”, John added.
We’ve spoken to experts and listed 7 effective home remedies to ease period pain and even prevent menstrual cramps, so you don’t have to suffer every month and toss and turn in pain.
1. Massage with Sesame Oil:Sesame oil is traditionally used for abhyanga i.e. the daily Ayurvedic self-massage. It is rich in linoleic acid, and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Dr. Malini Sharma, Ayurveda Expert, Holy Healthcare Clinic, says, “You can use sesame oil and massage it on your lower abdomen while you’re menstruating. It helps a lot”.
2. Fenugreek Seeds: Dr. Ashutosh Gautam, Clinical Operations and Coordination Manager at Baidyanath says, “You can reduce period pain with the help of fenugreek seeds. All you need to do is soak it in water for 12 hours, and then drink up”.
3. Heat: “Applying heat on the lower abdomen helps relax the contracting muscles in the uterus”, says Dr. Manoj K. Ahuja, Fortis Hospital. A hot water bottle always does the trick for me, but you can use over-the-counter heating pads or patches for comfort as well. Dr. Ritika Samaddar, Max Super Speciality Hospital says, “Sipping on warm fluids or taking a hot shower also helps to relieve pain and make you feel more relaxed”.
4. Exercise: This may seem crazy to you, considering you can barely move (let alone brisk walk) when you’re dying in pain. But exercising increases circulation to the pelvic region and releases endorphins to counteract the prostaglandins (hormone-like substances that cause the uterine muscles to contract during menstruation). Yogi Anoop, MediYoga suggests, “Do yoga asanas such as pranayama and shavasana (the corpse pose) while menstruating, as it eases pain and helps the body to relax. It also helps if you lie on your back with your knees bent”. Dr. Ritika Samaddar, Max Super Speciality Hospital says, “It is important to exercise regularly for your overall health, but it is especially important if you’re prone to painful menstrual cramps”.
5. Ginger and Black Pepper Tea: Dr. Malini Sharma, Ayurveda Expert, says “Make herbal tea using dried ginger and black pepper. Add a little sugar for taste, but avoid milk”. Ginger can effectively reduce period pain, as it plays a key role in lowering the levels of prostaglandins. As an added bonus, it also helps make irregular periods regular and fights fatigue associated with premenstrual syndrome.
6. Cumin Seeds: “You can make a herbal tea out of cumin seeds to reduce period pain”, suggests Dr. Ashutosh Gautam, Baidyanath. Cumin has a relaxing effect, and its anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties are useful for for getting rid of menstrual cramps.
7. Chamomile Tea: According to a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Chemistry, Chamomile tea has pain-relieving properties. It helps relax the uterus and decrease the production of prostaglandins, thus reducing period pain.