- Women's Health
Exercise for Menstrual Health
If you suffer from menstrual problems such as menstrual cramps, PMS, menstrual migraines, menstrual fatigue, PCOS, and more, one of the most important things you can do is exercise regularly.
Exercise offers numerous health benefits to women with menstrual problems.
Exercise and Hormone Balance
One of the most common causes of many menstrual problems is hormone imbalance, most frequently in the form of estrogen dominance, which simply means excessive levels of the hormone estrogen in relation to progesterone and other hormones.
Exercise plays an important role in maintaining healthy hormone balance.
Estrogen is produced by fat cells, so estrogen dominance is more common among women who are overweight or obese. Unfortunately, excessive estrogen levels can also make it harder to lose weight because estrogen raises insulin resistance.
Regular, moderate exercise helps maintain proper hormone balance by maintaining a healthy weight or assisting with weight loss in order to reduce production of estrogen to normal levels.
Exercise as Natural Pain Relief
Exercise also releases endorphins, natural body chemicals that reduce the sensation of pain. this is an especially important benefit for women who experience menstrual cramps, menstrual migraines, and similar problems. You can maximize production of endorphins with aerobic exercises such as jogging, biking, and swimming - activities that really get your body moving and your heart pumping.
Many women who suffer from cramps, migraines and other painful side effects of menstruation have noticed that taking a walk or other moderate form of exercise will help them feel better when the pain is only mild or moderate.
Regular exercise, three to five times per week, is most important for relieving severe pain.
Exercise and Stress
Endorphins also have mental benefits, improving mood and general sense of well being. This helps reduce the perception of pain in another way: stress relief.
Stress increases the perception of pain and exacerbates migraines, cramps, and other painful symptoms.
In order to maximize exercise's stress relief benefits, take part in gentle, relaxing exercises such as yoga, Pilates or tai chi.
Other Benefits of Exercise
Exercise's other health benefits for women with menstrual problems include:
- improved blood circulation, which is especially helpful for women with migraines and menstrual cramps
- healthy digestive system and bowel function, which helps maintain a healthy hormone balance and prevents constipation, which can exacerbate menstrual cramps
- encourages adequate water consumption, which helps maintain healthy hormone balance
Talk to your doctor before begining an exercise regime, especially if you are overweight or have a personal or family history of heart problems.
Certain types of exercise are not recommended for migraine sufferers because they place too much stress on the body, including weight lifting. Consult with a doctor for safe exercise options, and discontinue any exercise regime that seems to trigger or exacerbate migraines.