For the average woman, the monthly period is a bore. And the feeling is worse when it is accompanied with pains, otherwise known as menstrual cramps.
Menstrual cramps – medically called dysmenorrheal – are usually felt in the lower abdomen or back; and they can be mild or severe.
General practitioner, Dr. Dr. Friday Odiase, notes that common menstrual cramps often start shortly before or at the onset of the period and continue one to three days. “they usually become less painful as a woman ages and may stop entirely after the woman has her first baby,” the physician explains.
Obstetricians say sometimes, menstrual pain could be as a result of certain disorders in the woman’s reproductive organs. Such cramps, they suggest, usually begin earlier in the menstrual cycle and could last longer than regular menstrual cramps.
Cramps present in varying ways and degrees. As such, an individual may experience severe pain in the abdomen, hips, lower back and inner thighs – all at the same time! Needless to say, experiences such as this make young adults to expect their menstrual period with trepidation.
Odiase says that in the case of severe cramps, the victim may experience stomach upset that could sometimes be accompanied with vomiting and passing loose stools. He counsels any individual who experiences severe menstrual cramps to check with an obstetrician so as to eliminate the presence of diseases in the reproductive organs. Such diseases include endometriosis, pelvic inflammation disease and fibroids.
Experts say taking over-the-counter painkillers as soon as bleeding or cramping starts will control the pain; while you may also place a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower back or abdomen.
“Deploying heat therapy on targeted areas will increase blood flow and deliver oxygen to the cells. This will help in stretching the muscles and other connective tissues. It will in turn result in reduced tension with an increase in flexibility, leading to an overall feeling of relief and comfort,” Odiase counsels.
Foods for cramps
Scientific researchers also assure that there are food that can at least reduce the cramps, making life a lot more enjoyable even during your monthly flow. Such foods include the following…
Nutritionists swear that bananas are a rich source of anti-cramping nutrients such as vitamin B6, which increases energy levels, regulates moods and lessens bloating. Bananas are also rich in potassium – a mineral that our body uses to control muscle contractions. When you feast regularly on banana before and during your period, therefore, you are likely to get relief from cramps. Other foods in this category are fish, chicken and potatoes.
This sweet fruit is the only one of its type that contains bromelain, an enzyme that is believed to help relax muscles and thus help with menstrual cramps. Experts say even as a supplement, it’s often used to relieve pain and inflammation.
Whether taken as tea or as food seasoning agent, ginger is known for its health-promoting properties; and in traditional Chinese medicine, it is widely used as a remedy for menstrual cramps. Fresh ginger, which is said to be the most effective form of ginger, is available year round in the open markets. Check with the mallam that sells groceries in the open cart.
Though walnuts are seasonal, the good news is that they are currently in season! Researchers say consuming walnuts in moderate quantity can greatly help women who suffer from period cramps. This is because walnuts are rich in the healthy omega 3 fatty acids which act as anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving agents. Other omega 3-rich foods include cold-water fish such as salmon, cod and halibut; as well as flaxseed.
Again walnuts are rich in vitamin B6, which happens to be a potent pain-relieving vitamin. They are also rich in magnesium – a nutrient that relieves menstrual cramps.
This is a green vegetable that is readily available and which grows around the house. This vegetable is reputed to provide an ample supply of many nutrients that have been shown to fight menstrual cramps. Such nutrients include vitamin E, vitamin B6, and magnesium. Indeed, physicians warn that a deficiency in magnesium can worsen menstrual cramps. “The severity and duration of menstrual cramps can be reduced by restoring magnesium to normal levels via the consumption of cashews, wheat germ and pinto beans,” nutritionists advise.
Herb-based teas have come to stay, and they are available all over the place. Such teas include green-peppermint- and parsley teas. Nutritionists say these teas not only help to flush out your system, but green tea is known to help with cramps, while peppermint tea will soothe your stomach and help beat bloating. They also suggest incorporating parsley into the diet in order to beat bloating that usually accompanies menstrual flow. Parsleys are available in supermarkets as food seasoning agents; while you may be lucky to also get fresh parsley leaves in high-end supermarkets. Dry or fresh, the effects are the same.
The bottom line: If these remedies don’t seem to work, you may need to see your doctor who is in a better position to determine the reasons for your pains, and prescribe appropriate medications.