Coping with Cramps
As if your period itself weren’t enough on its own, the aches and pains that can accompany it each month can range from mildly uncomfortable to downright debilitating. About half of women report monthly menstrual cramps and about 15 percent say theirs are severe. If you find yourself in this camp, here are a few strategies for coping with cramps:
—Stay ahead of the pain: When you feel the first signs of bloating and discomfort in your abdomen, you can take the recommended amount of ibuprofen (such as Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) to stave off some of the cramping feeling (and any period-induced headaches).
—Move: Exercise increases blood flow, which can reduce cramps, create natural feel-good endorphins and take your mind off the pain!
—Turn up the heat: A heating pad or hot bath (some women even swear by the seat heaters in their cars) can help relax your muscles and reduce the pain.
—Stress less: While stress doesn’t cause cramps, reducing your overall stress level and learning to relax can reduce their severity. Whether it’s deep breathing, some coping strategies at work, a yoga class or a little extra downtime during your cycle, try to reduce the tension in your body and mind.
If cramps are cramping your style, some other options include a low back or abdominal massage, contraception (which can decrease or eliminate periods entirely), acupressure and acupuncture, eating a balanced diet (more calcium and B vitamins, less salt and sugar), and lying in different positions (knees into chest, legs elevated or resting on one side). And while, unfortunately, some monthly discomfort is completely normal, if you are having excessive pain or bleeding, you should make an appointment to talk to your doctor.