Have you suffered from sudden nausea, diarrhea, lower abdominal cramps or headaches during your period?
Then you may be suffering from primary dysmenorrhea, better known as menstrual or period pain.
For most women, period pain isn’t an issue. But for the millions of American women who suffer from severe cramps–the kind that make you double over and vomit–a cure couldn’t come sooner enough.
According to the University of Maryland (UMM), a well-balanced diet and certain supplements helps reduce menstrual pain. Some herbs and drugs also alleviate cramps by reducing inflammation.
Let’s look more in depth at the possible treatments for period pain:
Treatment for Period Pain: Nutrition
As I mentioned above, a well-balanced diet may reduce cramps, but it isn’t a guarantee. Here are some changes you can make to your diet:
– Eat calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products, green leafy vegetables and almonds.
– Cut out the red meat and switch to leaner portions.
– Switch to complex carbohydrates–refined foods can worsen menstrual cramps.
– As tempting as it is to gorge out on junk food, it can actually worsen period pain. Avoid it if possible.
– Avoid triggers, such as nicotine, alcohol and caffeine.
– Drink up! Women should drink at least six glasses of water every day.
Generally speaking, women should avoid junk food and eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals instead. It won’t completely alleviate cramps, but can reduce its severity.
Treatment for Period Pain: Herbs
Few studies have been done on the following herbs, so it is unclear if these herbs can or cannot reduce menstrual pain. These herbs have been traditionally used to reduce or alleviate cramps, however.
If you have a health condition or are on certain prescription drugs, I strongly recommend talking with your doctor before taking any of these herbs:
– Witch hazel
– Evening primrose oil
– Cramp bark
– Black cohosh
Most herbs are available in pill or liquid form. If you cannot take pills, liquid extracts serve as a wonderful alternative–simply mix it with your favorite beverage and sip your way to less pain.
Period Pain Treatment: Supplements
If you’re having trouble sticking to a healthy diet, or if you don’t want to, certain supplements may also reduce period pain. These supplements include:
– Fish oil supplements
– Calcium citrate
– Vitamin D tablets
– Vitamin E tablets
Most of these supplements reduce inflammation, which may reduce the pain associated with menstruation. Calcium citrate also helps maintain muscle tone, which reportedly reduces menstrual cramps.
Treatment for Period Pain: Drugs
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, better known as NSAIDs, can be very effective for the treatment of period pain. Take these drugs early, when the pain initially sets in, to significantly reduce the severity of your cramps.
According to Drugs.com, the following drugs may alleviate cramps:
– Ibuprofen, sold under the brand names Advil, IBU, Midol, Motrin, Nuprin and Genpril.
– Naproxen, sold under the brand names Aleve, Anaprox, Midol Extended Relief, Naprelan, Naprosyn, EC-Naprosyn, Comfort Pac with Naproxen and Lader Naproxen Sodium.
– Ketoprofen, sold under the brand name Orudis.
– Diclofenac, sold under the brand names Zipsor, Voltaren, Cambia and Cataflam.
As always, check with your doctor before taking any drug, even over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Both ketoprofen and diclofenac can increase your risk for potentially life-threatening heart or blood problems. Long-term users face the highest risk for these complications.
Here’s my advice: Use natural treatments for period pain first–herbs and drugs may cause additional side effects. If the pain is still severe, ask your doctor if taking herbs or drugs is the right option for you.
“Menstrual pain” (UMM.edu)
“Period Pain (Dysmenorrhea) Medications” (Drugs.com)