Despite what Midol commercials might have told you since you got your first period, menstrual cramps are not the norm when it comes to an ideal cycle. Yep, you heard us right. Painful cramping does NOT have to be part of your monthly cycle.
Why Your Period is Painful
Let’s start at the beginning. Every month, your uterus grows a thick lining so that a fertilized egg could implant and begin a pregnancy. If this doesn’t happen (which is the case for most of us most of the time), your body instead produces chemical signals that give your uterine muscles the cue to contract and shed that lining—and you get your period.
Those chemicals are called prostaglandins, and varying levels of prostaglandins (plus varying levels of sensitivity to them) can cause different types of pain. That’s why some women have pain-free periods, and others have debilitating cramps.
If your levels of prostaglandins are too high, you’re more likely to experience the really painful, sometimes intolerable cramps. If your levels of prostaglandins are balanced, you’re more likely to experience less pain overall.
How to Reduce Your Menstrual Cramps
The best way to address menstrual cramping is to balance your hormones, including prostaglandins. A naturopathic doctor will be able to help you treat imbalances by listening to your symptoms and overall concerns, and create a health plan that’s specific to you. It might include dietary changes, tracking your cycle more specifically or adding in supplements.
But balancing hormones can be a lengthy process, as they can be impacted by many underlying health issues. So, if you need to try something RIGHT NOW, we’ve got a few suggestions for reducing menstrual cramps ASAP.
- Cramp Bark: A super effective herb to use for menstrual cramps, it has a special affinity for smooth muscle cramping, which is exactly what your uterus is doing. It is, after all, a muscle. You can try a tincture, or you can buy dried cramp bark and make your own tea. It’s most effective when you take it as soon as you realize it’s that time of the month, and tinctures can work in as little as 10 minutes.
- Magnesium: A natural muscle relaxant, magnesium can help those uterine muscles to calm down. It also helps replenish or rebalance depleted minerals in your body, which can alleviate pain all around.
- Replenish your vitamins+minerals: Sometimes, period pain can be related to depleted minerals and vitamins in your system, like potassium, B vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids. Make sure you’re regularly eating a balanced meal plan that incorporates as many nutrients as possible on a consistent basis, to help prevent cramps in the first place. But if you find yourself in need of replenishment, try a period-specific tincture that gives your body a boost of the vitamins and minerals it needs to relax.
- Homeopathy: It may seem like magic, but homeopathy can be a powerful energetic kick your body needs to help stop the pain. You’ll want to pick the remedy that fits your picture – here are a couple of common ones!
- Magnesia phosphorica (Mag. Phos) – pain relieved by heat and pressure.
- Nux vomica – Cramps that extend into the whole body coupled with urge for a bowel movement.
- Colocynthis – Pain relieved by hard pressure to the uterus.
- Chamomilla – Intense cramping with hyper-sensitivity to pain.
Interested in learning more about what your period pain could be telling you? Give us a call to schedule a free 15-minute consult.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.