Health: Managing Period Pain

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For many women, period pain is a very painful reality. Some tend to experience very painful cramps, lower back pain and to some extent tension headaches during their period. Why do you have to suffer through cramps in the first place? The explanation lies in the fact that your uterus must shed its natural lining each month–a job that requires your uterine muscle to contract. As it contracts, blood vessels that supply the uterus become constricted, which reduces blood flow and results in pain. For some women, the hormonal changes that trigger menstruation may be more evident, causing the uterus to contract over zealously–and more painfully.

Period pain symptoms. Image from http://www.femail.com.au/period-pain-and-how-to-survive-it.htm

Doctors and scientists have been able to come up with certain medication to help relieve the pain and it seems Whoopi Goldberg is joining that train as well. Whoopi who is an actress and comedian mostly known for her appearance on films like ‘Sister Act’, ‘Sarafina’ and TV shows like “Star Trek: The Next Generation,”  recently launched a medical-marijuana company with Maya Elisabeth, a 10-year-plus proponent of the medicinal marijuana business who has partnered with Goldberg to produce weed-infused items tailored for women, with a line of products aimed at helping relieve the pain of menstrual cramps. The company’s first four products include a balm for topical localized pain, a tincture – liquid extract for serious discomfort, sipping chocolate, and a bath soak. All are infused with marijuana and aim to reduce the pain and cramps from periods.

Many women have gone through various paths to find a cure or a source of relief for period cramps that even render some immobile or not able to function effectively for the better part of their cycle and it seems that Whoopi is on her way to helping women relieve their pain. The products have been designed such that they can be used anywhere. You can carry it in your bag, rub on your lower abdomen and back while at work and when you get home, you can have a warm bath with the bath soak or you can choose to make tea. They help relieve pain as you continue with your day to day routine.

Despite the fact that marijuana is illegal in Kenya, the prospect of having relief during your periods as you can comfortably go about your day can be considered a dream come true.

Menstrual cramps also known as dysmenorrhea can also be relieved or reduced through some of these ways:

  1. Painkillers

When you feel the pain coming, you can take a painkiller e.g. Panadol or ibuprofen. These nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are very effective at relieving menstrual cramps. You can also take the medicine before you get your period to help prevent the pain.

  1. Taking a warm bath or using a hot water bottle

Put a heating pad or hot water bottle with warm – not scalding hot water – on your lower abdomen region. One can also opt in taking a warm bath. Heat improves the flow of blood and helps to ease the pain.

  1. Exercises

Light exercises during your period will ease to help ease the bloated and puffy feeling. Workouts that stretch your body are the best.

If you experience the pain while at work, try walking around for 5 minutes as you alternate with simple stretching exercises after 15 minutes.

You can also try incorporating regular exercise into your routine. Walking, jogging and swimming are good at not only toning your body but they also help in managing cramps.

  1. Eat more greens

Dark leafy greens are a dietary source of magnesium, calcium, and countless other micro nutrients.  These nutrients are essential for mediating muscle contractions. In Chinese dietary therapy, dark green vegetables are also considered to be mildly cleansing, which is what the body needs in a “stagnation” condition. Some greens such as dandelion greens (very bitter, but very helpful) also have a mild diuretic effect, which reduces bloating.

  1. Cut down on coffee

Caffeine, especially from coffee, is a well-known vasoconstrictor – it makes blood vessels constrict.  Indeed, it may cause the vessels that feed the uterus to tighten more than they do in non-coffee drinkers.  If you’re a diehard coffee drinker, like me and find it hard to cut it out entirely, try avoiding it in the week before your period and see if you notice a change.

Try taking herbal teas instead. Tea with peppermint oil is a good example.

  1. Get a massage

The rhythmic kneading of the muscles in your lower back and abdomen can do wonders on easing the pain of cramps. Plus it’s a certified way of helping your whole body and mind to relax.

  1. When the pain gets too much, see a doctor

Know when to visit your gynecologist. A little tension or pain is expected as you begin your period but as you progress and the pain gets worse, you need to seek medical attention.

If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately:

  • When you experience pain so severe it becomes difficult to stretch out your body.
  • When the cramps last for more than three days
  • If the pain from the cramps leads to a constant sensation of nausea and vomiting.

A gynecologist will help determine if the pain you’re experiencing is normal or is a symptom of a reproductive disorder for example fibroids, endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.

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