Pain-free periods do exist.
Period pain is the worst.
As soon as the first twinge shoots across your abdomen, you know it's going to be a downward spiral from there. At best, it will leave you a bit bloated, lethargic and feeling a little low, and at its worst, you'll end up mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted from the entire experience and in need of an entirely new underwear drawer.
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And so it can be all too easy to reach for a painkiller (along with a hot water bottle) to try to get it under control. But what if there were natural remedies for period pain meaning you can put away that packet of Nurofen for a good? Well, there are and we've carefully crafted them all into a list for your scrolling pleasure.
Good news: chocolate can actually help. Try to opt for a chocolate bar with at least 60% cacao, as not only will this curb the sugar cravings you're likely to be having, but it will also boost your 'happiness' hormone which goes by the scientific name of serotonin. Mood swings? Don't know her.
When period cramps strike, certain yoga moves can really help relieve the pain (although we wouldn't recommend doing a full session). Start with the supported child's pose. Whilst kneeling down, place a cushion on your thighs in order to add support to my stomach before folding down into the child's pose. Allow your spine to relax, stretch your arms out in front and release all tension in the shoulders and let your tummy fall onto the cushion giving you that support and relief you're in need of. Next, try a standing forward fold, whereby you bend your upper body over. This can give you a real release in your lower back, legs and tummy, and also gets your circulation going, which your body will thank you for. Finally, end with a supine twist. Lie on your back and let gravity take control of your hips, knee and shoulders to allow you to sink into the mat. Bending your knees, twist your hips to allow the legs to fall to one side of your body, and then repeat on the other side.
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Ask any athlete - professional or amateur - what their go-to is for muscle relief and they'll all give you the same answer: magnesium. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, magnesium holds the ability to relax muscles meaning it's a wonder ingredient for relieving menstrual cramps. Either sprinkle your bath water with a handful of Epsom salts or if time doesn't allow, try spritzing a magnesium oil spray straight onto the lower abdomen.
Even if you're not ready to give up on the Nurofen, there are plenty of supplements that can bolster its pain-relieving effect. Research has recently found that young women taking omega-3 supplements experience far less stomach cramping, due to a decrease in prostaglandin levels. Along with this, on the occasions when cramping did occur, it was found to be much less severe and lasted for a shorter period of time.
Like many things in life, drinking more water helps. Drinking water decreases your chances of water retention, which is what makes cramps all the more painful. Keeping hydrated with lots of water, warm or cold, is your easiest way to alleviate your period pains.
MASSAGE THE AFFECTED AREA
We all know what wonders a good massage can do for a bad back or tired feet, and a cramping abdomen is no different. To relieve your period cramps, you should try to massage your stomach at least five minutes every day to promote blood circulation while easing tense muscles. To elevate this, you can opt for essential oils such as lavender for its ability to reduce emotional tension.
If all else fails, sleep is your saviour. Interruptions to your regular sleeping pattern can interfere with your monthly cycle and result in irritability, fatigue and stomach cramping. It's heavily recommended that you choose to have even more sleep than you usually would during your time of the month, as relaxation can play a very strong role in pain relief.
Main image by @maisondavika on Instagram
If PMS and period pains are becoming a significant problem, affecting your quality of life, ability to do your daily activities or you are worried in any way, visit your GP for more immediate treatment.
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