Period cramps usually start on the day of menstrual flow and last for 2-3 days. The pain is a most often a cramping pain in the lower abdomen which may radiate to the lower back or thighs.
Risk of bad period cramps and pain is increased in women who:
- Started to menstruate before age 11
- Have heavy periods
- Have irregular cycles
- Have never given birth
- Are smokers
- Have a family history of painful periods
- Have an underlying medical condition (such as endometriosis or fibroids)
If your period cramps disrupt your life or is progressively worsening, you should see your health care provider for an assessment. This is really important as so many women believe pain to be normal and live for many years with severe pain or undiagnosed endometriosis that can negative affect their life and may contribute to long-lasting fertility issues.
In the absence of hormonal conditions such as endometriosis, cramping pain is usually caused by the release of excessive prostaglandins, constricted blood flow, oestrogen dominance and inflammation. Cramping pain experienced before menstruation or throughout the cycle should always be investigated as should pain which is getting worse or interferes with your daily activities. If cramping pain is something that is a big part of your monthly cycle, try following the tips below for three months and monitor your progress.
- Reduce inflammation and oestrogen dominance by increasing fibre and fresh vegetables in the diet. Aim for organic when possible.
- Focus on daily and abundant intake of the liver-friendly, oestrogen-metabolising veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, spinach and asparagus.
- Reduce red meat intake to once weekly and focus on fish, legumes and organic chicken instead.
- Avoid dairy, sugar, caffeine and all processed grains such as white rice and bread. These dietary modifications are not easy but can really help to improve your symptoms so give it a go and use the Seed iPhone App recipes and meal plans for inspiration.
- Detoxify your home from toxic hormone disruptors found in plastics, chemical cleaning products, pesticides, fragrances and most commercial body and skin care products to reduce environmental oestrogen exposure which can make cramps worse and is also extremely important for your health and wellbeing.
- Ask your Naturopath to test your urinary iodine levels. Iodine deficiency is very common and iodine is important for oestrogen metabolism but supplementing without establishing need via testing can be dangerous.
- Supplement with a high dose turmeric supplement twice daily (and increase to four times daily during menstruation). The anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids are essential – try a 5ml of a practitioner-quality fish oil liquid twice daily with food.
- Use 1000mg of magnesium citrate or glycinate daily to reduce muscle cramping and decrease stress and consider trying a DIM (di-indole-methane) supplement to support health oestrogen metabolism.
- When pain is present, topical heat can help to alter prostaglandin levels so try using a hot water bottle, or soak in a hot epsom salt bath (add 1 cup epsom salts per bath) when the pain is present.
Belinda created The Seed Concept as she is passionate about helping women optimise their nutrition and health in a realistic and achievable manner.