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When it comes to our monthly cycle, nothing takes us out of our flow more than menstrual pains.
Menstrual cramps, medically known as dysmenorrhea, are “throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen” that many women experience before or during their periods.
For women with menstrual cycles, cramps are just one of the many side effects of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) along with abdominal bloating, acne flare-ups, mood swings, and tenderness of breasts. The pain and discomfort of these symptoms can put a pause on our daily productivity, focus, and desire to do anything other than lie around the house.
The level of pain experienced by women during their periods can vary based on a number of factors, and according to OBGYN Dr. Alyssa Dweck, understanding these differences can play a crucial part in women understanding their body and flow on a deeper level. “Cramps can be primary (meaning no obvious cause), or secondary, usually due to fibroids, endometriosis, or another structural issue,” she tells ESSENCE. “There are likely genetic and environmental influences on the cause and severity of cramps. Individuals also have different levels of pain tolerance.”
Because every woman’s body is different, knowing when your pain levels peak can be key to knowing what type of relief is best for you. Dr. Dweck suggests that women stay on top of when their cramps are more likely to occur.
“I recommend anticipating and tracking cramps with a menstrual app or calendar,” she says. “Getting ahead of the pain is key.”
Dr. Dweck shares that inviting play and pleasure into your life can also serve as a healthy alternative to alleviate period pain when compared to more traditional means. “Exercise also helps relieve cramping when done regularly,” she says. “Finally, have sex! Orgasm can relieve menstrual cramps.”
Thankfully, relief comes in many sizes, patches, supplements, and pads, because you don’t have to just grin and bear it. If you’re looking for new remedies to take the edge off of your menstrual pains, we’ve put together a list of the best remedies on the market to give you and your uterus the relief it deserves.
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