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6 Tips For Controlling Menstrual Cramps

Updated on November 28, 2010

I can still remember rolling my eyes as a teenager, bragging about how much of a breeze menstruation was. I was particularly impressed with my ability to deal with cramps. I called anyone writhing around in a pain a wuss. And I meant it. Until I hit 17 and had my first introduction to hardcore pain, menstrual style. Not only could I not stand up, I couldn’t even get out of bed. To make things worse, nothing would get rid of the pain. It was a nightmare and it lasted for two days.

It took me nearly 15 years to devise some kind of pain management technique to keep me going every month. My cramps tend to come near the end of day one, so at least I have a little warning. The following are my tips for dealing with cramps. I can’t promise they will each work for you, but they’re certainly worth a try.

  • No added salt, no extra salty food 72 hours prior. Bloating always seems to magnify my cramps. When I was in college, I ate loads of ramen noodles. Salt content is off the wall in that stuff. I thought the warmth was making feel better – and it probably was – but the sodium was just canceling that out. No salt!

  • Drink warm tea. In moderation, mind you. You don’t really want to make it so you have to get up to potty fifty million times. Just sip it, and space it out. The warmth always makes me feel better. Could be psychological, but I don’t care, as long as it helps.

  • Consume loads of fiber starting 72 hours before. Over the years, nearly each of my girlfriends have remarked that they thought menstrual cramps were primarily caused by constipation. Constipation you aren’t really aware of until you’re no longer constipated. While it’s not very scientific, we all feel very strongly that giving things extra incentive to keep moving reduces cramps by about 60%.

  • Heating pads really work! As a teenager I’d thought this was a stupid suggestion. I didn’t try it until I was in my late 20’s. What an idiot I was. Heating pads were sent by God. Use them, they work very well.

  • Ibuprofen You will not see me recommend Tylenol or any other NSAIDs, cos they have never worked for me. Advil (ibuprofen) is the only thing which reduces my cramps. I actually take far more than the recommended dosage, so I’m not going to tell you how much. I’ll just advise you to start taking it at the FIRST SIGN of pain. The first, faint, far off gleam in your eye. This is KEY in keeping the pain under control. And continue taking it round the clock until the pain goes away. You shouldn’t exceed 1200 mg a day.

  • Take a hot bath. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do when I’m in real pain, is climb out of a warm bed and go climb into a bathtub. However, I only needed to try it once to know it’s more than worth it. My entire body is completely relaxed afterward, and my cramps seem to go away and never come back. Try it!

There you go, six tips for controlling cramps. If you have any others you’d like to add, feel free to add them in the comments section!

xx Isabella

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