Painful menstruation can happen at that time of the month, and can include annoying cramps in the lower abdomen and upper thighs. Sometimes lower back pain may be attributed to your time of the month. Sometimes the cramping can be so painful you might experience nausea or be sick to your stomach.
Menstrual cramps generally occur a day or two before your period and a day or two after your period. They can last 30 minutes to a few hours.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) "painful menstruation is the leading cause of lost time from school and work among women in their teens and 20s."
As a teenager, I experienced severe menstrual cramps. I remember one instance where I had to leave a freshman lecture because the pain was so severe. My personal remedies for menstrual cramps are a heating pad and two ibuprofen tablets.
Depending on the individual, the cramps may slowly subside after a duration of between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours. Some may feel relief begin as quickly as 20 minutes.
ABC News website states, "Menstrual cramps are caused by prostaglandins, molecular compounds released when your old uterine lining starts breaking down. Prostaglandins cause your uterus to contract. Researchers have found that in comparing women who experience cramps to those who don't, there is a direct correlation between elevated levels of prostaglandins and crippling pain."
Here are some additional remedies recommended by the NIH for that time of the month:
• Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine. Monitor the dates of your period and try taking it a day or two before your period
• Apply a heating pad or hot water bottle to your lower belly
• Take warm non-caffeine beverages like peppermint tea
• Keep your legs raised while lying down, or lie on your side with knees bent
• Avoid caffeine, salt, sugar and alcohol
• Load up on veggies and fruit
• Perform a light circular massage with your fingertips around your lower belly area
• Take vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium supplements, especially if your pain is from PMS
• Do pelvic rocking exercises side to side and front to back
If you suffer from severe menstrual cramps, you may want to consult your doctor. Depending on the severity of your cramps, your doctor may prescribe one of the following medications:
• Prescription pain relievers like a muscle relaxer or narcotics
• Birth control pills
• Prescription anti-inflammatory medicines
HUNTER, AINA. "A Natural Approach to Menstrual Cramps." ABC News. ABC News Network, 07 Feb. 2008. Web. 05 Aug. 2013.
"A Natural Cure for Menstrual Cramps." Prevention. Web. 05 Aug. 2013.
"Painful Menstrual Periods: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia." U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Web. 05 Aug. 2013.
Reviewed August 6, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith