The Smart Girls Guide to Fighting Cramps.

Warning: Things are about to get real personal, real fast. Today we are talking periods – a traditionally taboo topic that not many people are willing to discuss, despite the fact that half of the population deals with them. And half of that population deals with dysmenorrhea, or painful periods.

I’ve always been part of that group, and it hasn’t been pretty. The first day of my cycle has traditionally resulted in a day in bed feeling miserable, unable to keep food down. In highschool, I figured that this was normal and something that everyone dealt with and something that I would deal with my whole life so I kept quiet. I later realized that it wasn’t normal and I needed to get help and make some changes. Unfortunately, doctors have proven to be uselessthus far, in fact my last visit to the doctor resulted in me being prescribed an asthma inhaler. Yes, my doctor prescribed me an asthma inhaler to treat menstrual cramps. I still don’t get it either.

 Today we are talking periods - a traditionally taboo topic that not many people are willing to discuss, despite the fact that half of the population deals with them. And half of that population deals with dysmenorrhea, or painful periods. I used to be one of those girls who silently (or not so silently) suffered monthly. But not anymore. I have figured out how to minimize my cramps to the point where I can perform daily tasks no problem. All without a doctor's help. If you suffer from painful periods, you are going to want to read this!

Unfortunately, it seems that it’s a common trend for women to not be taken seriously by their doctors regarding menstrual pain. In fact, there have been studies on this saying it takes a woman six years and four different doctors before they find one who will actually try to help them rather than saying that the pain is normal or that they are being dramatic. Periods are uncomfortable, yes, but they should not be leaving you unable to perform your daily tasks. If your doctor won’t take you seriously (first of all, they are rotten at their job) but you should also go find one who will. You deserve more than living your life in pain.

Because none of the doctors I’ve had access to thus far have been willing to help me, I turned to the internet and have found some really useful information.While these tips haven’t eliminated my cramps completely, they have made getting out of bed bearable and allowed me to stop putting my life on hold for an entire day every few weeks. I am going to list the methods I’ve tested out in order of effectiveness down below, though all methods have had at least a minor positive impact.

A plant based diet.

One thing I’ve challenged myself on accomplishing on my list is eat a plant based diet for a week. I started this challenge just several days before the start of my last and I was amazed by the impact it had. I actually didn’t know that it could have an impact on my cycle, until day one came and I was in very little pain. It was then that I started to do research and I found out that this was a common trend in women who switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Where my pain is usually an 8 or 9 out of ten, while on the plant based diet it peaked at a 4.

I love meat too much to permanently switch my diet, but I think from now on I will be eating a plant based diet the week before my cycle starts because I am amazed  with what a huge difference this has made.

Yoga.

I had heard a lot about yoga for cramping, but the skeptic in me didn’t necessarily believe it until I tried it out myself. I specifically follow this routine and it usually offers immediate relief. The only thing is the relief is short lived, only lasting for about half an hour before the pain starts creeping back. But sometimes that immediate relief is all I need to be able go get lunch down (and keep it down) and so I am more than happy to continue this routine.

Preventative measures.

I keep close watch of my cycle and starting two days before it is due to start, I take 2 doses of anti-inflammatory pills each day to hopefully lessen the blow of the first day pain. This was recommended to me by the first doctor I ever saw for my pain, and is so far the only good thing to come from seeing a doctor.

Exercise.

Low impact exercise is supposed to really help cramping, but I’ve never really been able to test it out for myself. Now that I know that plant based diet trick, I will be able to test this one out properly, but like I’ve said before – the first day used to involve me staying in bed and getting sick so exercise was never an option.

Like I said, these steps haven’t completely eliminated my pain but they have done a lot in lessening it. If you are having severe cramping, don’t let my negative experience the doctors scare you from seeing yours. Hopefully your doctor will listen and take you seriously. I haven’t given up on being able to get this taken care of by a doctor, I just have run out of local options. I will keep seeing doctors until someone helps  me, and you should do the same. Don’t accept your pain as normal because if it is keeping you from living your life normally it is anything but normal. Use these tips to treat the symptom, but please still get the problem checked out. Your reproductive health isn’t something you should play around with, and while the cause of extreme cramping isn’t always (or even often) serious, it can be as the result of something you’re going to want to catch early. 

Do you have any tricks for treating cramps that I didn’t mention above? I would love to hear them because I am always looking for new ways to minimize my pain!

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  • Amy Banmen

    I started drinking red raspberry leaf tea for multiple issues with my reproductive health. I had irregular cycles, painful cramps, and infertility issues. During the month I drink one cup a day (it’s high in vitamin C too, which could explain why I haven’t had a cold in a year!) and during my cycle I drink 2-3 cups. No painful cramping, totally regular cycles, and my uterine lining was finally thick enough for me to get pregnant! You can buy the bags at the grocery store, or harvest straight from a raspberry bush.

    • That is an awesome idea, and one I’ve never heard of! I am going to have to order some raspberry leaf tea online! Do you have a brand that you recommend, or would I be OK with any of them? And that is so exciting about you being able to get pregnant – I don’t know how recent that was, but regardless, congratulations!! With the problems I’ve been having, I fear infertility in the future more than anything else!

  • I dieeeed laughing you said your doctor prescribed you with an asthma inhaler lmao!! Too hilarious! I also get really bad cramps during my period too but since taking birth control, they’ve become way more manageable. Also, another good home remedy that my grandma taught me that actually works, is to try soaking in a tub full of water as hot as you can stand it, with some Epsom salt! If you add a few drops of essential oil…you get pain relief and aromatherapy at the same time 😉 lol

    • I still have no clue what was going through her mind when she thought “Excruciating menstrual cramps? Must be asthma!” And that sounds like it definitely would beat my usual heating pad on the belly! I have heard awesome things about epsom salts – I am definitely going to give that a try!