woman hugging herself for comfort

Are period cramps normal?

July 25, 2023

10 Alternative tips for relief

For many of us, when it's that time of the month, the struggle is real. Period cramps can range from mild discomfort all the way to complete system shut-down. More than half of all menstruators experience pain during their period, 32-40% even so severe that it interferes with their day-to-day life. But fear not! We're here to empower you with some seriously cool alternatives to wave goodbye to the discomfort. Say hello to a happier, healthier you as we dive into the world of menstrual wellness and discover 10 awesome tips to ease your pain. Let&apo;s unlock the secrets to banishing period cramps for good!

Understanding period cramps

Before we get into the good stuff, let's understand what's causing those cramps in the first place. During menstruation, your uterine muscles flex and contract to shed that monthly lining. These contractions are triggered by hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which are inflammatory chemicals. Higher levels of these are associated with more severe menstrual cramps, but are not just restricted to the uterus. They can be responsible for headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Are period cramps normal?

Great question! Period cramps can vary from person to person, and since they are so common, we often falsely say “period pain is normal.” Stop! Pain should never be normalized. Pain should always be treated as a signal your body is sending you to show you that there is an underlying health issue that needs attention. There is no doubt that certain painkillers (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen and Naproxen) reduce the production of prostaglandins. That makes them a great first-aid tool for when your cramps are just too bad. And additionally, in order to address the underlying issues, we propose a few “alternative” options. Because taking pain meds every month just doesn't seem like a healthy, long-term solution.

10 alternative tips to relieve period pain

Alright, now it's time for the fun part! We've rounded up some nifty alternative tips to soothe those cramps in the moment and address them long-term. Ready? Let's go!

  • 1

    Eating for relief

    Healthy spread of anti-inflammatory foods with salmon, avocado, nuts, and eggs.

    When it's that time of the month, your diet can be your secret weapon against period cramps. Opt for foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, chia seeds, and nuts, which help reduce inflammation and ease muscle contractions. Leafy greens, eggs, oats, olive oil, oranges, and water-based foods such as lettuce, celery, cucumbers, watermelon, or berries can also help reduce menstrual cramps. With nutrition recommendations it’s always important to remember that different bodies react differently. So, experiment with different foods in your own time as you are able to, and listen to your body for what feels great!

  • 2

    Move it, don't lose it

    Woman walking barefoot in the forest.

    Exercise might be the last thing on your mind when you're dealing with cramps, but trust us, it can be worth it! Gentle workouts like walking and easy yoga release feel-good endorphins that act as natural painkillers. Plus, they improve blood circulation, helping to reduce discomfort. So put on your comfiest activewear and take a stroll in the park or follow along with a soothing yoga flow - your body will thank you for the love and care.

  • 3

    Herbal heros

    Herbal ginger tea in cozy glassware.

    Time to embrace the wonders of nature! Herbal teas can be a game-changer when it comes to soothing period cramps. Sip on a warm cup of chamomile tea to relax tense muscles or enjoy a ginger tea to tame inflammation. Feeling adventurous? Explore the power of cramp bark and raspberry leaf teas - ancient remedies known for their muscle-relaxing and uterine-supporting properties. These herbal heroes are here to lend a hand (or should we say, a cup) during your time of the month!

  • 4

    Get your Om on

    Woman doing child’s pose in yoga.

    Unleash your inner zen with yoga and meditation - your uterus will thank you! These calming practices not only reduce stress but also help release tension in your pelvic region. Poses like child's pose and pigeon pose can gently stretch your lower abdomen, providing relief from cramps. Meditation, on the other hand, encourages mindfulness and can shift your focus away from discomfort. So, roll out your yoga mat or find a serene spot, take a deep breath, and let the tranquility wash over you.

  • 5

    Heat therapy hacks

    Woman with hot water bottle.

    Grab your coziest heat pack or hot water bottle, and let the magic happen. Applying heat to your lower abdomen soothes tense muscles and increases blood flow, offering much-needed comfort during your period. Pro tip: add a drop or two of lavender essential oil to your heat pack for an extra touch of relaxation. Now, snuggle up with your favorite blanket and let the gentle warmth work its cramp-relieving wonders! Still need more warmth? Why not turn your bathroom into a spa haven with a soothing bath? Fill up the tub with warm water and add Epsom salts, which contain magnesium to relax your muscles. Dim the lights, light some candles, and play calming music as you indulge in some well-deserved me-time.

  • 6

    Essential oils SOS

    Glass bottle with lavender and rosemary essential oil.

    Essential oils to the rescue! When it comes to alleviating period cramps, certain oils shine like the stars they are. Lavender, known for its calming properties, can be gently massaged onto your belly to ease tension. Peppermint oil provides a cooling sensation that can help soothe sore muscles. And don't forget clary sage—this incredible oil can promote hormonal balance and provide relief during your bleed. Create your customized blend or find pre-made roll-ons for a quick and delightful SOS for those crampy moments.

  • 7

    Mindful mindset

    Woman screaming.

    This one is more of a preparatory practice. The week before your period is typically known as your PMS time - when your hormones mess with your balance a little. Random TV commercials can make you cry, the sock on your left foot can suddenly feel super-annoying, and every person you encounter seems to piss you off. These kinds of mood swings usually only feel like a problem because we judge them as negative or interfering with our regular, every-day life. What if we tried to harness this side of our cycle for its boundary-setting & releasing qualities instead? Getting very picky about the cleanliness of your home? You’re just detail-oriented right now. Getting hyper-critical of everything and everyone (including yourself)? You’re just an excellent decision maker right now (think pros & cons lists). Feeling like you could explode at any second? Throw a safe tantrum in the comfort of your own bedroom - scream it into your pillows, punch your mattress, release whatever’s bothering you! Making these little mindset shifts can have a major impact on how you experience your periods from now on.

  • 8

    Caffeine and you

    Cozy cup of hot cacao.

    We get it - coffee is life! But during your premenstrual time and even while on your period, it might be best to cut back on caffeine, as it can constrict blood vessels and exacerbate cramps. Swap out that extra cup of joe for some caffeine-free herbal tea or a delicious decaf latte. Your taste buds might miss the java jolt, but your body will appreciate the break from the caffeine-induced cramp party.

  • 9

    Active release

    Erupting geysir.

    We often hear about the importance of Kegel exercises. Flexing and relaxing your PC muscle - imagine pulling up or stopping the flow mid-pee - can have positive effects, especially in the fight against urinary incontinence. (Other benefits center around increased sexual pleasure and tightening the vaginal canal, but that’s a topic for another article!) But did you know it goes both ways? Exercising this muscle is also about actively pushing down and out - btw, what that muscle is there for. You can practice this while you’re on your period. Actively pushing out while you’re on the toilet can even alleviate your period cramps. So, next time you change your cup or tampon, try this active release practice. We promise, it can feel amazing against cramps!

  • 10

    Acupressure at your fingertips

    Acupressure splenic point 6.

    It's time to give acupressure a try! This ancient practice involves applying gentle pressure to specific points on your body to alleviate pain and tension. For period cramps, focus on the SP6 (Spleen 6) point, located about four finger-widths above your inner ankle. Applying pressure here for a few minutes can work wonders in soothing your lower abdomen. It's like having your personal pain relief at your fingertips!

Wrapping it up

Remember, we're all unique, so find what works best for you. Don't forget to track your cycle and explore our holistic menstrual health app for personalized support on this journey. Join our community of empowered individuals who embrace their cycles and discover a happier, healthier period together. Sayonara, cramps - you're no match for us!