- Women's Health
Ways I Relieved My Menstrual Cramps
I just read a hub about ways to get rid of or minimize menstrual cramps. It made me want to write my own hub about this problem. Usually, the doctors cannot seem to find a cure or a cause for menstrual cramps, and so we are left to suffer with this pain and may miss days of work because of it. I really sympathize with those who have this problem as I struggled with it for many years. I never exactly got rid of the pain, but I did manage to greatly minimize it so it was manageable.
Here’s my list of possible remedies. These are what worked the best for me. Other people have found other remedies that work best for them, so check around and don’t just listen to me. Some things work for some people and not for other people.
What Worked For Me
Ibuprofens. They helped me more than anything else, I think. However, when the cramps are too severe, they may not be enough. Sometimes I had to combine them with other remedies or techniques. Most people do not take enough ibuprofens to relieve the pain. I had to take 4 every 4 hours or as needed.When Ibuprofens first came out, there was a lot of scientific research about their amazing ability to get rid of menstrual cramps, and I believe that doctors still do recommend them highly for this malady. Nowadays, though, it is hard to find this research material for some reason. Iburpofens are not just painkillers. They are antispasmotics, which reduces cramping, so they don’t just cover up pain. Also, ibuprofens contain something that alters a hormone in your body that causes excess cramps when it’s out of balance. This is why ibuprofens have been recommended so often for menstrual cramps. But you have to take more than the suggested dosages on the bottle in order for it to get rid of the pains.
Lemon Balm. When ibuprofens don’t quite do it for you, but they help, try taking lemon balm herbal tea in conjunction with the ibuprofens. This tea is strong stuff, and so try half a cup before trying a whole cup. It will probably make you feel sleepy, and it can be a struggle to stay awake and work while taking it, but it offers great relief from the cramps. Lemon Balm might be hard to find, but I believe you can buy it on the Internet on some of the herbal remedy web sites. Your city may have herb stores or health food stores that carry it; but it's one of the lesser known herbs and that makes it harder to locate. It has a very relaxing effect on the body and mind.
Unusual Massage Method. One time I was in so much pain and nothing was helping, and I called someone whom I knew who did a massage technique called Trager. It totally got rid of the pain, and I was amazed. Since I didn’t have the money to keep hiring someone to do this for me, I observed how she did it and started doing it for myself and it greatly helped.
Self-massage. I had read a book about relief of menstrual cramps and it showed a self-massage technique which basically was to lightly massage the area around the uterus in a circular motion. This really helped.
Calcium & Magnesium. I would chew a bunch of chewable calcium tablets and take magnesium tablets and this helped, to some extent, but it wasn't a cure-all. I mention it because it does seem to help to some degree. The chewable calcium works better than other types of calcium.
Acupressure. I used to get pains in my thighs, as well, and so would push on a meridian that goes down the side of the thighs (outer side) and hold my finger on each point for a few minutes until the pain would vanish. This helped a lot with the leg pains.
Slant boards. These are boards that you lie on on a slant, with your head near the floor and your feet at the top of the slanted board. You can buy these, mostly over the Internet. I am not sure why it helps cramps so much, but it has something to do with increasing circulation. However, I suspect it works for other reasons, as well, somehow taking the pressure off of the uterus. This would help me when the cramps were so severe that nothing else would work. It was probably the best remedy I tried, but I did need to be taking other painkillers in addition to using the slant board, since I would try other methods first before using the slant board as a last resort. I would lie on the slant board anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour before the pain would completely vanish.
Chiropractic. If I could time it to where I got a chiropractic adjustment right before my period started, it greatly helped to reduce the cramps.
Laxatives. Take a mild laxative before your period and it takes the intestinal pressure off of the uterus and makes somewhat of a difference.
Diuretics. This reduces the water in your body and seems to reduce the cramps.
Midol. I took a Midol once and it totally got rid of the cramps. But I didn’t use it regularly for some reason, I guess because I was accustomed at that time to taking pain pills the doctor prescribed. But you might want to try the Midols, as they are a lot stronger than you might expect.
Norgesic and Emperin Codeines. This isn’t the best remedy, but it provides at least some relief. I used to take both of these drugs together when I was a teenager and it did seem to help the cramps, but not really enough. It’s worth a try, though, if your cramps aren’t too severe. I used to take one Norgesic along with about 3 emperin codeines to start; and if that wasn’t enough, I’d take another emperin codeine. When I was a teenager my cramps were so severe that I’d end up taking way too many emperin codeines beyond the recommended dosages. I don’t really recommend doing this, but if you have no other remedies to try at the time, it’s better than nothing and going through hell.
Bladder Lift. I used to see this chiropractor who did a bladder lift technique on me which made a huge difference in the intensity of my cramps, but I had to have it done just before my period. It involved a light pushing up on the bladder with her hands and was not a painful or a lengthy process. But unfortunately, I think very few people know about this process and she just happened upon it luckily. I couldn’t do it every month because I couldn’t afford the chiropractic visits.
Light Relief. This is something I purchased in recent years for my back pain, at a time when I no longer have cramps and am in menopause. However, it works to relieve all kinds of pains. It’s an object that you place on the area of your body that hurts. It uses infrared light and heat. I haven’t tried it for cramps, but I would say it would work. It's on one of those TV infomercials and it's being promoted by the actor Robert Wagner. It's definitely a really great product.
Acupuncture. I’m a great believer in acupuncture. I think it works for anything and everything, any kind of pain, or illness. I’ve used it for severe back pain, and one time it kept me alive until I could get to the hospital for treatment for pneumonia. Although I never tried it for cramps, I am sure it would greatly help because it clears just everything and every kind of pain. But again, you’d have to have it done just before or during your period. The only thing about it is, make sure they use disposable needles, as if they reuse needles and don’t clean them off sufficiently, you could catch aids or some other disease from somebody’s sick blood. So be sure you trust the acupuncturist that you go to and ask them to use disposable needles.
Heating Pad. This may not get rid of the cramps, but it kind of numbs them and is very soothing. A hot water bottle works the same way, but you have to keep getting up and refilling it with hot water which is a hassle.
Positions. I would lie on my back with pillows tucked under my legs. I had read somewhere that this position helps, and it does. Lying on your side with your top leg kind of bent and crossing over your other leg seems to help, too. I got this from a book on cramps relief.
Birth Control Pills. I mention this one because it may work for some people, but it wasn't good for me, personally. Some doctors recommend taking birth control pills so that you don't have your menses and therefore you don't have cramps. I tried this once, only once, and never again! This was just my experience, and others may have a totally better experience; but what happened to me was that the birth control pills gave me a huge migraine headache and it scared me half to death. I'd never had anything like those headaches. The headaches started the first day I took the pills. I was taking the most minimum dosage of birth control pills. To get rid of the migraines I took a whole bunch of Vitamin B6 pills, something I had recently read about for headaches. I also don't like the idea of birth control pills because I fear they cause cancers.
Hysterectomy. Some doctors recommend having your uterus removed as a cure for the cramps. This is a pretty drastic measure and I don't recommend it as it may involve going through a lot of pain for a month or more after the operation; and if they remove the ovaries, too, which they often do, then you'll have to deal with hormonal menopause symptoms.
Distractions. If you can watch a good movie or do something that holds your complete attention, it takes your mind off the pains and tends to reduce the pains.
Music. Sometimes music that inspires or relaxes you helps, also. One time I went to a Crosby, Stills and Nash concert many years ago, and their music was so beautiful and soothing to me that my cramps completely vanished. That was a rare experience, but it can happen sometimes. Music can also be a good distraction from pain.
Avoid Coffee. Coffee greatly increases your menstrual cramps as it constricts and tightens muscles. You will find just cutting out the coffee during your period time makes a really big difference in the severity of your cramps.
Eat Lightly. The less you eat, the less severe the cramps will be. I think that when you eat, it causes the intestines to press harder onto your uterus. Just a theory of mine, but I'm no doctor. I just know it seems to help if I eat nothing or very little, especially the first day.
Gynecology. Find a good doctor who can properly diagnose the problem. Cramps can be caused by uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, uterine endometriosis, and other physical causes. If they find any of these conditions they can tell you what type of treatment is needed for it, and some of these conditions may require an operation.
Diminishes With Age? They say that as you get older, the cramps gradually diminish in intensity. I did find this to be true with myself. In my later years I found I could just take ibuprofens alone and that was sufficient to be able to work and not be in intense pain. But when I was younger, I had to try all of the above methods to find enough relief. I found that the balm tea with the ibuprofens enabled me to work, but it made me so sleepy and I struggled to work.
Psycholgoical Causes. There can also be psychological causes of menstrual cramps and if you heal that cause, the cramps might go away. It usually has to do with sexual issues.