23 May Press Pause on Period Pain
Press Pause on Period Pain
Many women long-suffer painful periods, and during my time as a remedial therapist, I have come across women of all ages who experience discomfort every month. From mild discomfort in the lower abdomen, back and thighs, as well as headaches, nausea and loose stools.
Over the years there are a number of basic recommendations that I regularly offer to help with period pain. When used in conjunction with one another, they can offer relief from the crampy company of ‘Aunt Flo’! (But of course, if you’re experiencing extreme discomfort, always speak to your Doctor or Health Practititioner)
Pause Period Pain with…….
Magnesium Powder (ingested)
The pain experienced in your tummy before + during your period (Which we commonly refer to as “cramps”) happens due to a chemical called prostaglandins which is released, that causes the uterus walls to contract and shed its lining, resulting in your period.
The higher the level of prostaglandins, the more pain is often associated, and this varies from woman to woman.
Magnesium acts as an anti-spasmodic (anti-cramping) to help reduce the cramps associated with this. It has a wealth of other benefits, too!
Magnesium Lotion or Oil (applied topically)
Our skin is incredibly permeable (which is why we’re always banging on about the importance of natural skin care).
Magnesium applied to your skin is readily absorbed into your bloodstream and can help reduce and relieve cramps, much like when it is ingested.
Ordinarily, the types of magnesium we ingest are different to those we put in a bath or in an oil or lotion, so a combination of the 2 will give you the best absorption and chances of anti-spasmodic / anti-cramping effects.
Essential oils have been used for many years to assist in managing pain and ailments. One oil long-used oil for assisting with the beginnings of labour; Clary Sage, can also be incredibly effective for helping calm tummy cramps during your period, as it acts as an anti-spasmodic (similar to Magnesium)
Research has demonstrated that Clary Sage oil (along with Lavender, Sweet Marjoram and Chamomile) had a measurable affect on reducing period pain.
Plus, it smells DIVINE!
Lupin Bag / Back Wrap
Heat, as we know, can be a really soothing and relieving, for muscle aches and pains. Heat applied to the skin helps promote local circulation, and provides a different sensory message to your brain, to help dampen the “pain!” message.
Whilst we don’t fully understand WHY heat works for managing period pain, anecdotally, we all experience relief cuddled up with a lupin bag (or strolling around with a backwrap!)
A hot bath (with some magnesium bath salts) will help, too. Both of which you at find at Clarity, of course!
Raspberry Leaf Tea
A traditional tonic for assisting with period pain, raspberry leaf tea (which doesn’t taste like raspberry at all, despite the name!) helps to reduce cramping and discomfort.
It acts as a “uterine tonic” and is often recommended during the end of pregnancy, for the same reason. Cool, huh?!
You can grab this at your local health food store.
Cacao is high in magnesium, which we know (as above) is a helpful antispasmodic. It is also very nourishing aaaand, it makes a cup of hot chocolate, so….what more do I need to say?
At Clarity Wellness, we’re fortunate enough to stock a Cacao Elixir which was specially crafted by herbalist Courtney of Sacred Herbals.
It was created especially for this purpose, and includes a blend of cacao along with specific supportive herbs and minerals to support your menstruation.
Exercise is proven to help reduce period pain. Exercise helps to release endorphins, which are like our body’s own pain killers!
They reduce pain by dissolving the prostaglandins (the chemical that we mentioned earlier), so it stands to reason that regular aerobic (ideally 3 x 30min sessions per week) exercise can help reduce regular period pain.
At Clarity Wellness, we are fortunate enough to house a fabulous studio of amazing practitioners who offer all of the best recommended exercises for Period Pain, including Strength training, yoga and pilates. Check out more here!
Can’t make it in to see us? Check out these proven exercises 🙂
Ever noticed how, when you’re really stressed, you feel overly achey and sore? This is when our Sympathetic Nervous (Flight or Fight) system is firing, and we are acutely “switched on” and rapid firing. This is helpful for emergencies, but not so helpful long-term.
Deep breathing can assist with reducing the messages of pain from our brain, by stimulating our Parasympathetic Nervous (Rest + Digest) System, which can help to dampen our pain receptors from firing maniacally.
Additionally, from a musculoskeletal perspective, the diaphragmatic rise and fall which occurs when you take deep inhalations + exhalations is kinda like an internal massage for your tum-tum #winwin
Try these breathing exercises from Live Strong.
A continuation from deep breathing, meditation can assist in lowering your “pain markers” and help to calm your nociceptors (pain receptors).
As our great local legend in pain research Lorimer Mosely teaches us: pain is in the brain. This is not to say that the pain you experience in your tummy is not real, but does offer some possibility that you may be able to utilise some good brain-training to help dampen it a but.
A small study conducted by Mindfulness Magazine revealed that meditation can change your attitude towards period pain, potentially reducing the severity of it. Amazing!
Not sure where to start with meditation? There are lot of great apps, Mindful has lots of great resources for meditation.
Massage + Acupuncture
For the same reason that Meditation and Deep Breathing can assist, Massage + Acupuncture can be hugely supportive for managing period pain.
With the addition of relief for secondary areas (such as neck + lower back pain), these therapies offer your nervous system the opportunity to wind down and your natural pain-killers (beta endorphins) to get to work!
By incorporating essential oils (as mentioned above), massage can be a very soothing and healing therapiy for period pain, and is a nurturing gift to offer your body, particularly in the first couple of days of your period.
A study published in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics found that 77.8 percent of the women who received regular acupuncture experienced a decrease of PMS symptoms, including menstrual cramps, while only 5.9 percent of the placebo group said the same.
At Clarity Wellness, we have an award winning team of Massage Therapists and Acupuncturist to help relieve your pain and get you comfy in your body again. Click here for more details.
Prevention is better than cure…
Reducing your intake of alcohol, tobacco, sugar and other inflammatory foods in the days leading up to your period can help reduce your overall systemic inflammation, which reduces discomfort.
Be prepared + adjust your output
Knowing in advance exactly when your period is due to arrive can be really helpful to ensure you are equipped with the above tool kit and can consider adjusting your activities to suit.
If you recognise that the first couple of days of your cycle are painful and tiring for you, plan in advance to have a reduced commitments during this time.
If you need some help to know exactly where you are at on your cycle, I highly recommend Natural Cycles App (which is a recognised contraceptive device, too).
You can also look for Period Tracker Apps in the App Store on your device, which can give an approximate start date for your next cycle.
Of course, if all natural remedies do not provide you with adequate relief, there are a number of over the counter medications available from a pharmacy to provide you with relief from period pain, including ibuprofen, aspirin.
Though uncomfortable, it can be helpful to mindfully remember that your period is a natural, wonderful part of your monthly cycle. Coming to understand your cycle and how each phase affects you can be really empowering, and allow you to feel in control of it, rather than you being a victim to the surges and falls in hormones.
Of course, if you experience extreme pain and discomfort around you period which really limits your capacity to live life, particularly after the age of 25, you may be experiencing endometriosis, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or cervical stenosis – it is very important to seek advice from your doctor and trusted healthcare practitioner who can suggest appropriate options for you and your unique body.
You can find more information and support for endometriosis here .
Keen to get your hands on these things for yourself or a loved one? Well, we’ve got you covered! You can find these recommended products for purchase here at Clarity Wellness.
If you have any questions, do let me know!