Beating Period Pain
Cramps are a common type of pain during periods (called dysmenorrhoea by doctors) and usually first experienced a year or two after starting having periods, the pain can be mild or severe - and is usually felt in the lower abdomen or back.
Not all women will have painful periods, and where there is pain, some months may be more painful than others. Pain may also change over a woman's lifetime, with more discomfort in the teen years then easing with age before worsening again around menopause.
Why not try our expert ideas on natural pain relief which range from traditional remedies and dietary advice through to the technological benefits of TENS and Micro Current therapy.
Beating Period Pain – ideas that help naturally
Our Pharmacist, Eddie Dandy, has researched all the latest thinking on Periods and Period Pain Relief. Here is his comprehensive list of drug-free solutions which range from traditional natural remedies, thinking on diet and exercise, through to TENS and Micro-Current therapies:
Simple, straightforward yet comforting heat, such as a hot water bottle, warm bath or shower should be the first port of call for aches and cramps.
For a gentle, natural heat that can be applied to the tummy for up to 24 hours, whilst it works under clothing, the Medo Patch is worth considering. This innovative patch contains purely herbal ingredients – Devil’s Claw, Arnica and Willow Bark.
Rubbing or massaging of the lower part of the tummy can help relieve pain for some women.
TENS Machines (transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation) may help reduce pain by delivering low-level electrical pulses through electrodes on the tummy.
Worth trying is the Ova Plus Period Pain Reliever which is discreet and easy to use, it uses special electrode patches to transmit a safe, small electric current through the body to help relieve pain. It can be used anywhere on and around the abdomen and is also suitable to be used to relieve back pain.
How Does Ova Plus Period Pain Reliever Work?
The Ova Plus uses a proven medical therapy known as TENS that prevents messages of pain being sent to the brain and increases the level of endorphins, meaning you feel less pain. The small electrical current is delivered through electrodes to the body effectively and safely. It also helps to relax contracted muscles which greatly relieve period pain.
The pill or other hormonal contraceptive options may help monthly period pain for some women.
Experts say women who smoke are more likely to have painful periods.
Cut the sugar
Foods containing sugar are inflammatory so you should avoid it throughout the month, not just at the time of your period.
Curcumin, the main component of Turmeric, is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reducing characteristics.
In recent studies, curcumin was found to be more effective than aspirin and ibuprofen. This suggests that curcumin could be used to control chronic inflammatory symptoms that relate to diseases such as ulcerative colitis, arthritis, high cholesterol and chronic pain.
A study conducted on rheumatoid arthritis patients showed those that took curcumin over traditional drugs had the highest percentage of improvement in overall Disease Activity Scores.
The list of benefits Turmeric provides doesn't stop here. Other proven health benefits include; managing depression, lowering blood glucose levels and aiding brain health.
Turmeric powder is easily added to your daily diet. And at Tower Health, we've sourced the best quality Organic Turmeric.
Easy to say but more difficult to achieve, especially when exam, work and family life make your head buzz, but when we’re stressed we make less of the hormone progesterone that prevents period pain, so the happier and less stressed you are during the month, the more you prevent period pain occurring.
Relaxation techniques won't take away the pain but Yoga or Pilates may help with stress levels and take away the focus from the pain.
Improve Your Diet
Reducing fat and increasing vegetables in your diet may help ease monthly cramps. A low-fat diet decreases overall levels of inflammation in the body, helps your health generally and can have an indirect yet noticeable effect on menstrual cramps, too.
Trying to achieve a healthier diet? To start, swap out less healthy fats like the saturated fats found in animal products, and choose healthier ones like unsaturated fats found in olive oil, suggests the American Heart Association (AHA). And, if you’re having dairy, pick low-fat or fat-free products. Overall, try to get 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories from healthier fats found in fish, nuts and vegetable oils.
Try Fish Oil and Vitamin B1
Another natural route to period cramp relief is taking fish oil supplements, vitamin B1, or both, according to research published in September 2014 in the Global Journal of Health Science. Scientists assigned 240 teens with menstrual cramps and other pain to take B1 and fish oil, B1 alone, fish oil alone, or a placebo. The teens took 100 milligrams (mg) per day of B1 and 500 mg daily of fish oil supplements.
When the teens reported their pain, those taking either the fish oil, B1, or both had significantly less pain than the placebo group. The pain also didn't last as long if they took fish oil or B1.
Exercise to Boost Endorphins
In addition to their pain-relieving effect, endorphins can also boost your mood. Having an orgasm releases endorphins, working out does as well. Perhaps the last thing you want to even think about while in the midst of cramps is exercise, but that can boost endorphins and help chase away pain.
Exercise helps maintain healthy circulation in the pelvis. Things like walking or yoga help lymphatic drainage in the pelvis and translates to less period pain when the time comes around.
A report published in March 2015 in the Journal of Family Reproductive Health indicates that both aerobic exercise and stretching helped soothe period cramps for 105 students in the study
Micro-current is a new type of pain relief technology. Using micro current therapy - a tiny electrical current stimulates painful or injured parts of your body and speeds up the healing process. PainMaster for Women has specifically designed pads that are applied to your painful tummy or lower back, they can be worn for up to 3 days and no one will even know you’re wearing them.
The best part is that this drug free, non-invasive method of pain relief is affordable, effective, and can be used 24/7.
Up the Magnesium in Your Diet
Getting more dietary magnesium seems to help ease the pain of cramps, says a Cochrane review of dietary and other remedies published in 2001 which concluded that getting enough magnesium can help relieve pain.
Magnesium is found in many foods and as a supplement, if you can’t get what you need from your diet. Magnesium helps regulate nerve and muscle functioning, among other vital tasks; researchers who evaluated the evidence on magnesium call it a promising treatment for menstrual cramps.
Magnesium is found in a wide variety of foods, including Green leafy vegetables – such as spinach, nuts, brown rice, bread (especially wholegrain), fish, meat and dairy foods
Typically, a woman (19-64 years) * needs 270mg of magnesium a day. Try an easy to take daily Magnesium supplement such as our Biethica Magnesium tablets.
See our Green Smoothie recipe which is packed with useful nutrients to keep you at your healthy best.
The dose you may need depends on the severity of your cramps and other factors. Ask your doctor about the best magnesium intake for you.
- Handful of Spinach
- ½ cucumber
- 1 small avocado
- ½ mango
- fruit of 1 orange (+zest – makes it really orangey!)
- fruit of 1 lime
- Coconut water (or water) to cover
- 1 Tsp chia seeds
- 1 Tsp flax seeds (ground)
- 2 Tsp pumpkin seeds
- 1 Tsp Turmeric (Click here to view our Greens Organic Turmeric)
All about Period Pain
Period pain or menstrual cramps are something most women face each month. Usually, they’re not a bad thing. They are a sign that your body is starting another healthy menstrual cycle. But it’s helpful to understand exactly what is happening in your body.
Usually, menstrual cramp pain is mild. But sometimes it can be severe. The pains can vary from sharp stabs that make you double over to a nagging pain that spreads through your belly and lower back. Some women also experience dizziness, nausea, diarrhoea or vomiting. Severe period pain is called dysmenorrhea.
There are two types of menstrual pains: primary and secondary
This is a big word for common menstrual pains caused by your monthly cycle, not disease. You may feel mild to severe pain in your lower abdomen, back and thighs. It starts right before your period and usually lasts between 12-72 hours. This kind of dysmenorrhea is more common in young women and often gets less severe from the mid-20s onward and after giving birth.
This type of dysmenorrhea is usually caused by a disorder in a woman's reproductive organs. Some of these conditions include endometriosis, fibroids, cysts or infection. It can also be caused by using an intrauterine device (IUD) which is a form of contraceptive. The pain usually starts earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasts longer than primary dysmenorrhea.
What Causes Menstrual Pain?
Scientists think that menstrual pains are related to prostaglandins – a substance your uterus makes – that causes the uterus to contract. The cramping feeling is your uterus contracting.
At the start of your period, prostaglandin levels are high, and as you start to menstruate, the levels decrease.
Mums and daughters – explaining periods
Explaining menstruation to your daughter is a great way for her to feel comfortable with the changes that are going in her body.
It’s also a great way to bond and show her that you’re there for her through everything.
Here are some menstruation basics to help you explain everything she needs to know about her cycle.
Unique Menstruation Timing
Most girls get their first period between 11 and 13 years old, but it can start anywhere from ages 8 to 16.
The average cycle for most girls is 28 days, but it may last from 21 to 35 days and still be 'normal'.
If she has a short cycle, it’s likely that she’ll have a period more than once a month. On the flip side, if her cycle lasts longer, she’ll have fewer periods in a year. Every girl is different!
How Hormones Start Her Period
Hormones are something that her body makes and uses to control her body’s functions. As your daughter approaches puberty, a part of her brain called the pituitary gland begins releasing more and more of certain hormones.
These hormones stimulate her ovaries to produce oestrogen and another part of her body to produce other hormones called androgens. These hormones cause alot of the physical changes that take place during puberty and during her monthly menstruation cycle.
Phases of the Menstrual Cycle
Women and girls have two ovaries that contain thousands of eggs (ova). During the pre-ovulation (or follicular) phase, hormones stimulate the development of eggs. At the same time, the soft lining (called the endometrium) of the uterus (the place where a baby can grow) starts to thicken.
Ovulation occurs when a mature egg(s) is released from the ovary. After the egg is released, it travels along the fallopian tube to the uterus. If the egg is fertilised, it will stick in her uterus and develop into a foetus.
Ovulation usually happens around 10 to 16 days before her next period.
Premenstrual (Luteal) Phase
After ovulation, hormones trigger her body to continue developing the lining of the uterus, in preparation for a fertilised egg. During this phase, if your daughter were to become pregnant, the egg moves into the uterus and then attaches to the lining.
If she is not pregnant, the lining of the uterus is shed through the vaginal opening during menstruation.
The womb lining leaves the body through the vagina as a reddish fluid containing blood – typically about 60 ml of blood (although it can seem like a lot more). This is your daughter’s 'period' – it is also called menses – and it will last between three to seven days. The first day of bleeding is officially day one of her menstrual period. It’s also day one of her cycle (which ends on the first day of her next period.)
We all recognise that these first periods – in younger women, may cause some discomfort or even extreme cramps and pain. Offering a number of alternatives to handle the pain will help, perhaps you have your own solutions that you could pass on, click onto our Beating Period Pain page for a list of ideas – what works for some girls may not work for others, and some solutions may work in conjunction with others, so it may take a few months of experiment to find the answer
Pain during the menopause
You’re not getting older: you’re just ‘a certain age’. And, it’s really not so bad. Did you know that post-menopause, 70% of women with migraines see an improvement? And if you have currently have PMS, you can expect the symptoms to melt away once you complete the menopause. (It’s all those hormones, seething a bit less, and settling down into elegant refinement.)
What is the menopause?
Here’s the scientific bit: the menopause is the stage in our later lives when we become unable to become pregnant. For most of us, it’s just a natural part of entering middle age, as eggs are no longer released into the womb. The average age of menopause in the UK is 52, but for some women it happens in their 40s or late 50s. Periods can stop for a while, and then start again. So, we only really finish the menopause after a year without periods. Some people call the years leading up to a woman’s last period ‘the menopause’, although the scientific name for that is actually perimenopause.
What is perimenopause?
The perimenopause is sometimes called ‘the menopausal transition’. It’s the time leading up to our last period, when our bodies decrease their levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. These changes may cause symptoms like hot flushes. Some symptoms can last for months or years after our periods stop. After menopause, we enter the ‘postmenopause’ - which is a fancy term for the rest of our lives.
Should I talk to my doctor?
If you experience pain, strange bleeding after your periods have stopped, or very bad symptoms of any sort, talk to your GP, too. There are lots of things that can be done for severe menopause symptoms like very bad mood swings or forgetfulness. So, don’t suffer in silence.
Or for a gentle way to treat aches, pains, and other menopausal symptoms such as anxiety try Alpha-Stim which uses cranial electrotherapy stimulation as a natural therapy.
Alpha-Stim is a clinically proven medical device that relieves anxiety, depression, insomnia and pain using electro medical technology. Alpha-Stim provides lasting results without the risk of negative side effects. Anxiety, insomnia, depression and pain control are generally experienced after 4 weeks of daily 20 - 60 minute simple ear clip treatment.