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How to Relieve Menstrual Cramps Without Using Pain Relievers

Updated on February 14, 2013

If you're a woman, you know that every month comes with an expected and dreaded gift (like one from a distant relative that doesn't really know you but is still trying to be nice)...the period. Unfortunately, this gift is non-returnable and just keeps on giving. And for the lucky few of us, our gift comes with a bonus: pain and cramping.

Pain in the lower abdomen and cramping occur because the uterus is a muscle which contracts before and during the period to help expel the lining that is no longer needed for a fertilized egg. However, if this contracting occurs too strongly, it will press against blood vessels, cutting off the supply of oxygen to the muscle tissue of the uterus. Translation: your uterus is shedding its skin but strangling itself in the process, leaving you with some horrible, hunched-over-in-pain cramps. Great.

Over the years, I have experienced cramping during almost every period, and, therefore, have accrued a certain number of things that have helped me to alleviate this pain without resorting to pain medication:

1) Apply Heat to the Lower Abdomen

Heat is an excellent and easy home therapy for menstrual cramps. Since heat is often applied to sore or injured muscles to reduce pain, it reduces pain in the uterus in the same way. When heat is applied to the lower abdomen, circulation increases in that area, allowing the muscle to relax. Therefore, if the uterus is strangling itself, the heat is gently coaxing it to "sit back, relax" and let the blood flow onward. A heating pad, a hot water bottle, a warm, moist cloth, or taking a hot bath or shower are excellent ways to apply heat.

2) If Heat Doesn't Work, Try Cold Instead

Sometimes a build-up of blood is actually the reason for cramping, so heat won't work in this case. In all honesty, it might make it feel worse or create a heartbeat pounding through the blood in your stomach. If this is the case, simply apply an ice pack or a frozen water bottle to your lower abdomen. This helps to draw the built-up blood to your extremities instead of concentrating in one point around your uterus. Oh, sweet, sweet relief!

3) Take Deep Breaths and Meditate

If you're like me, you get mad when your husband tells you to "take deep breaths" and "calm down," but deep breathing, if done properly can actually help clear your mind and relax your stomach by providing more oxygen to your body. Deep breathing occurs when the diaphragm is used to fill the whole abdomen with air. Light breathing only fills the chest with air. Either one will do as long as it provides a calming and relaxing effect. Make sure to practice breathing when you're not in pain, so that it comes easier when you are. You can also produce sound during breathing, which can help alleviate pain. The more guttural sounds (k, g, ng) require you to use your stomach when saying them and provide the most relief. So everyone say after me, "Goosfraba."

4) Get Your Yoga On (Child's Pose)

Since your uterus is having trouble relaxing, doing Yoga is an excellent way to practice your breathing and calm your mind, thereby relaxing your stomach. The Child's Pose is one of the poses that provides the most relief for menstrual cramps because it lengthens the lower spine and releases tension. Here's how you do it: Sit on your knnes. Fold your upper body directly down over your knees until your forehead touches the ground. If you can, keep your butt against your heels to get maximum benefit from this stretch. Take deep breaths while in this pose and try to clear your mind. You can keep your arms by your side or stretch them above your head to find maximum results to reduce menstrual pain.

5) Lie Down Funny

Certain positions put less stress on your abdomen and draw blood to other parts of your body. Here's a favorite: lie down next to a couch or chair and put your legs up on the furniture so that your body is in a Z shape. After a few minutes, you should feel some relief to your stomach.

6) Use Essential Oils

An essential oil is a naturally aromatic, concentrated liquid extracted from plants and herbs that have been used medicinely and therapeutically throughout history. Different oils can help in different ways depending on how they're ingested and what it is blended with. Some oils that have been known to help menstrual cramps are Peppermint, Deep Blue, and Slim and Sassy. Rub them directly over the area where the cramping is occurring to experience relief. For more informatioin regarding Essential oils visit

7) Make Love

If you can stand to be around your husband when you're on your period, then making love is an excellent way to reduce pain. When a woman orgasms, her uterus contracts, pushing menstrual blood out of the uterus. In addition, orgasms cause women to release endorphins that make her feel extremely good and mask the pain of cramping.

But as you all know (and probably hate hearing), "prevention is the best medicine." So if you'd like to reduce cramping in the future, exercise and eat a healthy diet.

Easier said than done.


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