How to Tame Period Pain (and Avoid Ruining a Perfectly Good Month)
Cramping, lower-back pain, tender breasts, and headaches are just a few of the period pains women experience monthly. And well, for something that happens every 28 to 30 days, menstrual cycles can still surprise you with the number of uncomfortable period symptoms you experience. Period pain, while not fun, is common and usually can be treated—or at least lessened—with at-home remedies. However, if you experience debilitating symptoms to the point where you cannot work or enjoy life, you may have a more serious condition that requires your doctor's attention and treatment. (Don't delay setting up an appointment so you can find pain relief!)
For general period pain, consider this your 101 guide to relieving symptoms and feeling better every month.
What causes period pain?
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an estimated 50 percent of women who menstruate experience period pain at least one to two days per month. Of course, the intensity varies by person, with some women experiencing manageable cramps or a slight headache, while others struggle to get out of bed.
Also known as dysmenorrhea, menstrual pain is caused in part by the release of prostaglandins. These naturally occurring chemicals in the uterine lining cause the uterus muscle and blood vessels to contract, explains Alyssa Dweck, MD, a gynecologist and the host of the Business of the V podcast. "Uterine muscular contractions occur intermittently before and during flow, and aid in the expulsion of the thickened uterine lining that forms and sheds if pregnancy does not occur," she explains. When these contractions occur, blood flow is interrupted, resulting in pain. You also may experience period pain if you have an underlying condition, including uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, or an infection.
In short: During this monthly occurrence, your hormones are raised, which can cause a slew of uncomfortable symptoms that pass once your period has finished.
How to Relieve 4 Painful Period Symptoms
Nope, you don't have to sit and suffer throughout your period aches and pains. Menstrual cycles can be more comfortable—or at least more bearable—with a few changes in your diet and daily habits. Here, experts share their most effective at-home remedies, symptom-by-symptom.