Painful Periods and Cramps
About seventy percent of all women have pain and cramping with their monthly menstrual cycles. However, these symptoms usually are not severe enough to disrupt daily life.
The cramping and pain usually start a day or two before the period begins with the most severe discomfort occurring on the first day of menstruation.
There are more than 150 symptoms known and some of the more common ones include depression, bloating, fatigue, social withdrawal, angry outbursts, breast tenderness, vague aches and pains, menstrual migraines, and weight gain.
Some of the suspected causes are:
Excess oestrogen level in blood
Fluid retention· Vitamin B6 deficiency
Progesterone hormone deficiency
Hypoglycemia (reduction of blood glucose level)
Although nothing seems to cure PMS, there are some foods that seem to aggravate the symptoms, while others tend to alleviate them. Sticking to a low-salt regimen while increasing intake of fluids and potassium-rich foods is often effective in preventing bloating You may also experience relief by restricting your alcohol and caffeine consumption, since alcohol is a depressant and diuretic that can worsen PMS headaches and fatigue and can accentuate depression. Caffeine, on the other hand, is a stimulant, and can contribute to anxiety, irritability and painful breast tenderness.
Several studies have shown that a diet rich in calcium and vitamin B6 during PMS may also help reduce water retention and alleviate bad moods. The highest sources of calcium are milk and milk products like yogurt, ice cream and cheese. But make sure you choose low-fat options. Also, you can get calcium from vegetables such as broccoli, dark greens (like turnip greens), green or red cabbage (raw), cooked collards, fish, soy products and tofu. Foods rich in vitamin B6 include bananas; baked potatoes; legumes such as soybeans and lentils; meats, especially chicken, but also beef or pork; grains and cereals with bran; and fish, especially salmon.
Some research has suggested that taking vitamin or mineral supplements may also be helpful in alleviating bloating and depression. Among the most promising of these are calcium (1,000 mg. daily), magnesium (22 mg. taken during the last half of your cycle), vitamin B6 (50 to 200 mg. daily), and vitamin E (150 to 400 I.U. daily). These recommendations may not work for all women, but the cost and risk of vitamin and mineral supplements (in recommended amounts) are low enough to justify giving them a try.
Many women have food cravings during PMS, and the cravings usually focus on sweets and snacks such as ice cream, chocolate and potato chips. Eating complex carbohydrates is probably the best way to ward off those food cravings. These foods are a good source of fiber, which helps to clear excess estrogen from your body. High levels of estrogen have been shown to contribute to PMS. Also, research has found that high-carbohydrate foods actually relieve the psychological symptoms of tension, anxiety and mood swings that accompany PMS.
Good sources of complex carbohydrates include breads, pastas, macaroni, potatoes, rice, corn and legumes such as peas, chickpeas and lentils. But remember, it takes at least two hours for the carbohydrate high to “kick in;” plan your eating and snacking accordingly, so you’re not left with a case of the blahs.
In most cases, light to moderate pain and cramping during the menstrual period is considered normal and does not require a special trip to your doctor. There are things you can do at home to help yourself feel better if you experience painful periods and cramping:
Cut down on salt and sodium in your diet to reduce fluid retention
Use a heating pad or hot water bottle for abdominal cramping
Get plenty of rest
Eat a balanced diet
Take calcium and magnesium supplements during your menstrual period to help ease pain and cramping
Reduce intake of sugar and caffeine
Avoid alcohol and cigarettes
Try exercise like walking to promote deep breathing
Take a hot bath
Drink warm, herbal teas
Massage the back to relax muscles massage deep heating oils into the abdomen
For some women, orgasm brings relief by increasing blood flow to the pelvic area.
If you are having severe pain during your menstrual periods, which is called dysmenorrhea, you should see a doctor for an evaluation. It is common and can be a hereditary condition that disappears or improves after the birth of a first child. However, dysmenorrhea can also begin later in life and be caused by a disorder such as a pelvic infection or endometriosis.
Ginger: A piece of fresh ginger is pounded and boiled in a cup of water for a few minutes. The infusion,sweetened by sugar,is taken thrice daily after meals for
painful or irregular menstruation.
Lemon grass: An infusion of the grass, mixed with black pepper is given in painful menstruation. Raw juice or decoction of the grass may be taken in
such a condition
Sesame seeds: Half a teaspoon of powder of these seeds taken with hot water twice daily acts excellently in reducing spasmodic pain during menstruation in young anaemic girls.