Menstrual Cramp Home Remedies to Manage Pain – Healthline

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It’s common to feel discomfort around your abdomen, lower back, and thighs when you’re menstruating.
During your period, the muscles of your womb contract and relax to help shed built-up lining. Sometimes you’ll experience cramps, which means your muscles are at work. Some people may also experience:
Doctors are not sure why some people who menstruate experience painful symptoms and others don’t. Some factors associated with more intense pain include:
Other factors include:
For mild to temporary cramps, some home remedies can help provide relief. Read on for tips on getting fast relief, and learn how to potentially lessen the pain during your next cycle.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the primary over-the-counter (OTC) form of pain relief recommended for menstrual pain and heavy menstrual bleeding. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve).
These drugs help lower your body’s production of prostaglandin. NSAIDs are not as effective as oral contraception at lowering prostaglandin, but they can help reduce pain.
Applying heat to your abdomen and lower back may relieve pain. A 2018 review of studies found that heat therapy (usually a heat patch or pack) was as effective at treating menstrual pain as NSAIDS. It also may cause fewer side effects. However, the authors noted that more research is needed.
If you don’t have a hot-water bottle or heating pad, take a warm bath or use a hot towel. Or, you can make your own heating pad:
Learn more about the best heating pads here. You can also purchase a heating pad online.
Massage therapy for about 20 minutes can help.
Massage therapy for menstruation involves pressing specific points while the therapist’s hands move around your abdomen, side, and back.
Adding essential oils for an aromatherapy style of massage may have additional benefits.
A 2018 review of studies found that massage therapy and aromatherapy can reduce menstrual pain. Some essential oils that may help include:
You can buy a scented massage oil with similar ingredients or make your own.
You should always dilute your essential oil with a carrier oil. Examples include vegetable or nut oils, such as grapeseed or sweet almond oil. A safe concentration is one drop of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil.
While there are no clinical studies on the direct effect of orgasms on menstrual cramps, science suggests it may help.
Vaginal orgasms involve your whole body, including your spinal cord, which signals the release of neurotransmitters. A vaginal orgasm can trigger your brain to release neurotransmitters such as endorphins and oxytocin. Endorphins can decrease pain perception.
Dr. Barry Komisaruk, a psychology professor at Rutgers University who studies the female orgasm, told the BBC in 2015, “Vaginal orgasms [are described] as being internal and involving the whole-body; that’s probably because the nerves that carry sensations from the clitoris are different from the nerves from the vagina.”
Komisaruk’s 1985 study with Dr. Beverly Whipple was the first to find that vaginal self-stimulation doubled women’s tolerance for pain.
During menstruation, it’s a good idea to avoid foods that cause bloating and water retention. Some of the biggest culprits include:
Reducing or cutting out these foods can help alleviate cramps and decrease tension. Try soothing (caffeine-free) ginger or mint teas or hot water flavored with lemon instead. If you need a sugar fix, snack on fruits such as strawberries or raspberries.
These herbal remedies contain anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic compounds that can reduce the muscle contractions and swelling associated with menstrual pain.
Curcumin, a natural chemical in turmeric, may help with symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). A 2015 study looked at 70 women who took two capsules of curcumin for 7 days before their period and 3 days after. Participants reported significant reduction in PMS symptoms.
If you want to give curcumin a try, check out this recipe for turmeric tea by In Jennie’s Kitchen. Curcumin supplements are also available online.
Always make sure you’re buying herbs and supplements from a reputable source, as they are not regulated. While most of these herbal remedies have few side effects, check with your doctor before trying them.
Some herbs may also cause unintended side effects, especially if you’re taking medication. Most of these herbs and supplements also do not include specific instructions for menstrual periods. Your doctor may have more information on dosage recommendations.
Maintaining a healthy diet and keeping up a regular exercise regimen can go a long way toward preventing menstrual pain. A 2016 study of 250 women found significant differences between period pain in women who maintained a nutritious diet, exercised regularly, and reduced stress.
Read on for specific diet and exercise tips.
Generally, a diet geared toward decreasing menstrual pain should be high in minimally processed foods, fiber, and plants.
Give these foods a try:
Boron is a mineral that helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus. It also reduces menstrual cramps.
A 2015 study that looked at 113 university students found that boron reduced the intensity and length of menstrual pain.
Foods with high concentration of boron include:
You can also take boron supplements if your diet doesn’t provide enough. However, you should consult your doctor before taking boron supplements. Discover how boron helps brains and bones, too.
It sounds odd, but drinking water keeps your body from retaining water and helps to avoid painful bloating during menstruation. Warm or hot water is usually better for cramps, as hot liquids increase blood flow to your skin and may relax cramped muscles.
You can also increase your hydration by eating water-based foods, including:
This mineral can help reduce muscle cramping during menstruation. Foods high in calcium include:
Calcium is also available in supplement form. Speak with your doctor before taking supplements to find out if it’s safe for you.
The idea of exercising immediately before or during your period may not appeal to you, but exercise releases endorphins.
Research suggests exercise is effective at reducing menstrual pain to the extent it may also eliminate or reduce the need for pain-relief medication.
Moderate activity such as walking can be beneficial during your period in place of more strenuous activity.
Yoga is a gentle exercise that releases endorphins and can help prevent or reduce menstrual symptoms.
One study compared the effects of aerobic exercise and yoga on PMS symptoms. The researchers found that both yoga and aerobic exercise significantly reduced PMS symptoms and pain intensity. However, yoga was more effective than aerobic exercise at reducing symptoms. Helpful yoga poses for PMS may include:
You should contact your doctor if you have severe pain and very heavy bleeding. See a doctor if:
For severe cases, the best way to get treatment is for a doctor to diagnose the cause of your menstrual pain.
Last medically reviewed on September 27, 2021