24 Oct Six tips for painful periods
If you have a uterus it is likely that you have experienced some pain around your period. In the clinic patients often report needing 800mg of ibuprofen just to make it through day one of bleeding. Here are some tips for other ways to soothe and even remedy your menstrual pain.
In Chinese medicine, it is believed that cold can enter the uterus during a woman’s menses. Cold causes “stagnation” which causes pain. Think of it like Portland traffic during a snow storm – slow and painful! Stay warm from the inside out – avoid iced beverages and cold foods, wear socks, keep your abdomen warm and avoid exercising in the cold. You have probably noticed that when you are physically cold you tense up and all your aches and pains are worse. Keeping your body relaxed helps you stay in a more relaxed nervous state which decreases your pain perception.
If you suffer from lower abdominal cramping or back pain with your periods, topical pain relief may help. Start by picking up a natural pain balm that you find at your local natural foods store. If you find it helpful, consider making your own. Mountain Rose Herbs based in Eugene has a great how-to blog post including herbs that would be helpful.
Magnesium phosphate cell salts can help relieve menstrual cramps. Take a dose and then relax for a few minutes – even consider applying a heat pack to the low abdomen. You can pick up the homeopathic cell salts at a natural foods store.
Ditch the booze
Though a glass of wine may feel helpful in the moment, alcohol increases inflammation which increases pain. Many folks also experience more sensitivity to alcohol while they are menstruating which can make hangovers worse.
Get acupuncture – If painful periods are a regular thing for you or if your periods irregular, heavy, light or accompanied with PMS, an acupuncturist may be able to help. Be warned, your practitioner will want to know all about your flow including color, consistency, and clots. They will consider those findings along with all your other health information to create a fully customized treatment plan. It will surely include weekly acupuncture for at least 6 weeks and likely also an herbal formula or two. You will probably notice that along with your cycle improving you are also sleeping better, feeling less stressed and more energized. Acupuncture is pretty awesome stuff!
Take a break
Slow down – If you haven’t read The Red Tent in a decade, pick it up again! Slow down, give yourself a break, take baths, read, hang with girlfriends. It’s okay.