When it comes to womanhood, there is nothing quite as crippling (or terribly inconvenient) as menstrual pain. Dysmenorrhea—the painful cramps that occur before or during menstruation—often call for something more than a dose of Midol. If you’ve ever wondered how to get rid of menstrual cramps naturally, you’re in luck. The following five practices allow the body to heal from within and get you back on your feet quickly.
Hit the gym. When cramps make you want to curl up in the fetal position and moan, resist the urge and work out instead. Yes, really. Going for a light jog or spending as little as ten minutes on the recumbent bike can release endorphins—the mood elevators that may essentially overpower your physical discomfort. If cardio seems too intense, try a few gentle yoga poses to target the pelvis and abdominals. Ustrasana (camel pose) and Janu Sirsasana—the head-to-knee bend, are two effective stretches for how to get rid of menstrual cramps.
Get down and dirty. “Sexy” is not usually an adjective you’d use to describe yourself while in the throes of period pain, but having sex may actually relieve cramps. Aside from being able to take advantage of those heightened senses physically, orgasms—and the flood of endorphins that come with them—have proven beneficial to women’s emotional states. The muscle spasms that occur during orgasm provide a sort of internal massage while the emotional high or “afterglow” works as a natural painkiller.
Draw a bath. When doesn’t a bath sound lovely? When you feel those all-too-familiar cramps start to creep up, hop in the tub or grab a heating pad to place directly below the belly button. There’s a reason you’ll see this at the top of any list for how to get rid of menstrual cramps—heat simply opens your blood vessels and stimulates flow. When cramps catch you off guard at work or school, a warm water bottle will also do the trick.
Have a solo tea party. A widely accepted practice in the holistic community, drinking a cup of raspberry leaf tea is said to relieve cramps due to its medicinal properties. Alkaolids such as fragrine may help strengthen your abdominal muscles thus lessening the pain of contractions in the uterus. But while tea can produce a warm, soothing effect and allow for blood flow and pain relief, the same cannot be said for coffee. Since caffeine constricts the blood vessels thus worsening the pain, it’s best to stick to herbal drinks while menstruating.
Experiment with acupuncture. Originally a Chinese therapy, acupuncture targets specific points of the body to increase blood flow. In the case of painful menstrual cramps, an acupuncturist can focus on the abdomen to lessen the feelings of contractions and relax the nervous system. As an added bonus, acupuncture comes with a myriad of health benefits: better digestion, elevated mood, and deeper sleep.
For other methods of how to get rid of menstrual cramps, try deep breathing and deep tissue massage. A little self care goes a long way during that time of the month.