1. THE OFF SWITCH FOR MENSTRUAL PAIN – TENS THERAPY
2. MENSTRUAL HEATING PAD
3. PARACETAMOL – ACETAMINOPHEN TABLETS
4. IBUPROFEN PILLS
5. YOGA DVD
6. EXERCISE BIKE
7. AROMA CANDLES
8. CREATIVE THINKING DVD
What to do about menstrual cramps i.e. menstrual cramps fast relief?
- Take over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen/paracetamol. Always follow the instructions.
- Do aerobic exercise, like walking, running, riding a bike, swimming, or any activity that gets your heart rate up. Regular exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week is ideal, BUT especially before the periods start.
- Do breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga
- Put a heating pad on your belly or lower back.
- Take a hot bath.
- Have an orgasm (by yourself or with a partner).
- Get plenty of rest. Sleeping regularly every night can help with stress, mood changes, and feeling tired or fatigued.
- Eat healthy foods like fruits, veggies (especially the leafy green ones), whole grains, and yogurt.
- Limit fat, salt, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Make sure you get enough vitamins in your diet or take vitamin supplements.
- Take a supplement of minerals like calcium and magnesium.
- Use hormonal birth control (like the pill, patch, ring, implant, and hormonal IUD). Your doctor can help you find a birth control method.
Menstrual cramps facts
Menstrual cramps are painful periods. Its medically called dysmenorrhea, meaning pain during menstruation. Its usual onset occurs around the time that menstruation begins. Symptoms typically last less than three days. The pain is usually in the pelvis or lower abdomen. Other symptoms may include back pain, diarrhea, or nausea. It is the most common menstrual disorder. Typically it starts within a year of the first menstrual period. When there is no underlying cause and often the pain improves with age or following having a child. Dysmenorrhea is estimated to affect approximately 25% of women. Dysmenorrhea is the leading cause of recurrent short-term school and work absence.
Signs and symptoms of Menstrual Cramps
The main symptom of dysmenorrhea is pain concentrated in the lower abdomen or pelvis. It is also commonly felt in the right or left side of the abdomen. It may radiate to the thighs and lower back. Symptoms often co-occurring with menstrual pain include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, headache, dizziness, disorientation, hypersensitivity to sound, light, smell and touch, fainting, and fatigue. Symptoms of dysmenorrhea often begin immediately after ovulation and can last until the end of menstruation. This is because dysmenorrhea is often associated with changes in hormonal levels in the body that occur with ovulation.
Causes of Menstrual Cramps
In young women, painful periods often occur without an underlying problem. In older women, it is more often due to an underlying issue such as uterine fibroids, adenomyosis, or endometriosis. It is more common among those with heavy periods, irregular periods, whose periods started before twelve years of age, or who have a low body weight. The most common cause of secondary dysmenorrhea is endometriosis, which can be visually confirmed by laparoscopy in approximately 70% of adolescents with dysmenorrhea. Other causes of secondary dysmenorrhea include leiomyoma, adenomyosis, ovarian cysts, and pelvic congestion.
Diagnosis of Menstrual Cramps
The diagnosis of dysmenorrhea is usually made simply on a medical history of menstrual pain that interferes with daily activities. Once a diagnosis of dysmenorrhea is made, further workup is required to search for any secondary underlying cause of it, in order to be able to treat it specifically and to avoid the aggravation of a perhaps serious underlying cause. Further workup includes a specific medical history of symptoms and menstrual cycles and a pelvic exam. Additional exams and tests include laboratory tests, gynecologic ultrasonography, laparoscopy, etc.
Management of Menstrual Cramps
Treatment may include the use of a heating pad. Medications that may help include NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, hormonal birth control, and the IUD with progestogen. The use of certain types of birth control pills can prevent the symptoms of dysmenorrhea because they stop ovulation from occurring. Taking vitamin B or magnesium may help. Yoga, acupuncture, and massage help kill the pain. Surgery may be useful if certain underlying problems are present.
Published by an experienced medical doctor with a special interest in pain management.
Dr BA Mabaso, MB ChB, MPhil, MBA, DHSM.