revalidation

Period cramp hacks

Period cramps are discomforting, but some at-home hacks can help you through days that you experience severe pain.

Black girl experiencing period cramp

Key takeaways:

  • Some effective period cramp hacks include avoiding caffeine during period, getting enough sleep, applying heat to the upper pelvic area and cutting out foods that can trigger cramps.
  • At-home period cramp hacks are meant to help relieve some discomforting symptoms people experience before and during their periods. However, they are not standard treatments for people with premenstrual (PMS) premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
  • People should contact their doctors if they do not feel better after trying out period cramp hacks or home remedies that are meant to help provide relief.

The menstrual cycle is one of the signs of a healthy female body, even though getting your period could make you feel otherwise.

People often have mood swings, terrible breakouts, sore or painful breasts, and, in some cases, painful cramps a few days before or after their period starts. These symptoms are part of what is medically known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or "period flu" in lay language.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health, about 90% of people with vaginas say they experience some premenstrual symptoms, such as bloating and moodiness. And this is more common for those in their 30s.

Because of these symptoms, many people dread getting their period, especially because the symptoms also affect their daily activities. Some have it so bad that even getting out of bed requires special energy and motivation.

That's why one must learn to manage menstrual cramps with some at-home period hacks. You can make life during your period a bit less uncomfortable with the following period cramp hacks:

1. Get enough sleep

Sleeping is an effective period cramp hack. Getting enough sleep before and during your period can help you feel less stressed and keep your hormones in balance, reducing pain. Resting during cramps gives temporary relief and can help you feel restored and revitalized.

However, you can try several sleep positions if you're having trouble falling or staying asleep due to period pain. Sleeping in the fetal position (body curled up on one side, head bowed forward, and arms and legs drawn up) can help ease the pressure on your abdominal muscles and relieve pain as you sleep. This position also prevents period leaks. You can also try moving your pillows around to get comfortable.

2. Apply heat

Applying heat can feel extremely comforting and can help soothe the pain. This is a very actionable period cramp hack. Heat helps relax your uterine muscles, easing pain and promoting sleep. Applying heat causes no side effects and is relatively cheap.

You can ease the pain in your lower abdomen by applying a comfortable amount of heat with a hot water bag or a heating pad. This hack can be as good as taking a painkiller.

Taking a warm shower also helps relax your muscles and eases the pain. This works from the inside and out, too. Another form of heat therapy is drinking hot water or tea to relax the muscles internally. Also, for people dealing with persistent period pain, limiting caffeine intake can help, as caffeine can cause bloating and water retention, which can worsen symptoms.

3. Drink a lot of water

Bloating is one symptom that accompanies menstrual period, causing extreme discomfort. This is where drinking water comes in as a period cramp hack. Drinking more water will help people deal with the bloating, ensuring they feel a little bit of comfort.

It would be best to drink lots of water, especially when your period is close—preferably two weeks before—or when you're menstruating. The usual 6 to 10 glasses a day should help keep you hydrated and away from the pain. It can also help prevent or ease bloating.

4. Massage therapy

Abdominal massage has been touted for different benefits, such as belly fat reduction. But, some studies have also suggested that it could be a great period cramp hack, indicating that it may help treat menstrual pain.

Lightly massaging your tummy when cramping can be tremendously comforting. You can do so for 20 minutes to see the effects. You can also add essential oils, given that their scent can add to the soothing effects of the massage.

5. Practice yoga

Practising yoga offers several health benefits, especially during the menstrual period. It's a comfortable, low-impact way of incorporating exercise into your lifestyle. Keep in mind that strenuous exercise has a tendency to alter the menstrual cycle.

In addition, the meditation element of yoga can help relieve period pain and calm your mind. By taking deep breaths and focusing, you can instantly ease the stress caused by period cramps or fluctuating hormones.

Also, deep breaths help oxygen flow through your body and into your muscles since the lack of oxygen in your uterine muscles also contributes to cramps.

Mild exercises can help relieve pain by getting endorphins up. Endorphins are hormones your body releases during pleasurable activities such as exercise and massage. The chemicals released help relieve pain, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being.

6. Consider a change of diet

Changing diet is an effective period cramp hack, as it involves cutting out foods that could trigger pain and focusing on foods that will benefit your health and help reduce pain.

Cutting back on sugar, caffeine, and salt and eating more plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fiber-rich foods, whole grains, and foods that contain healthier fats, like avocados, butter, and fish, can help people who experience PMS. These foods can help reduce PMS symptoms like bloating and cramping and also contain vitamins that help replenish the blood lost during a menstrual period.

7. Eat some chocolates

As much as there are foods to avoid during your menstrual flow, chocolates should not be among them because a key ingredient in dark chocolate is magnesium, which can help reduce period pain. Magnesium relaxes the muscles in the uterus while reducing the prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) that often cause period pain in the first place.

During your period, you lose a lot of magnesium. Chocolates contain cacao, a good source of magnesium, and a good amount of it can help you regain that nutrient as it slips out of the body.

While taking chocolate is okay, you should avoid candy bars, as some of them are packed with unnecessary amounts of refined sugar. Instead, reach for a bar made from natural ingredients or bake something with less sugar at home using cacao.

8. Chart or track your cycle

Charting your period helps you know when to expect your period, especially if you experience painful cramps right before, during, or shortly after. You can make a plan for those days to ensure you are prepared.

Some ways to keep track of periods include using a period tracking app or marking dates on a phone or computer calendar. It's also important to pay attention to symptoms, as it helps one know when something is off so that they can see their doctor.

9. Try the lemon and ginger drink

Applying heat eases the pain that comes before and during a menstrual period. A warm cup of tea can be helpful and extremely effective while also soothing the soul. A hot tea made of ginger or lemon also makes a lot of difference.

Consuming ginger is an effective period cramp hack, as it can support pain relief. Also, the smell of lemon can be of great help if you're feeling nauseous. You can add in some honey for a sweet taste. A cup of this tea will not only help with pain but also soothe its consumer, given its essence and taste.

10. Use more than one sanitary napkin

This period cramp hack is for those who bleed heavily during their periods. If changing your sanitary pad every now and then will be difficult, then paste one sanitary napkin over another. Use thin sanitary napkins that absorb a lot of blood for your comfort, especially on heavy-flow days.

You may also want to try menstrual cups. These are small, bell-shaped, flexible cups made of rubber or silicone that are inserted into the vagina during periods. They have advantages over sanitary pads because they can be reused and hold up a lot of blood.

11. Reduce salt intake

Reduce salt intake days before, during your period, or even completely. Too much salt could cause excess water retention, leading to uncomfortable bloating.

If possible, cut back on salt intake, including salty foods like french fries. Also, when experimenting in the kitchen, use less sodium than a recipe calls for.

12. Try aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is useful, especially for people who have trouble sleeping at night because of cramps. Lavender essential oil is an aromatherapy tactic that can help people sleep well at night. Having a few drops on the pillow before hitting the bed can help with a good night's sleep.

Studies have shown that self-massaging with lavender essential oil can help ease the pain of your period. Scented candles also have soothing and relaxing effects on the body.

13. Heat patches/pads

Heating patches or pads can be used as a form of heat therapy that helps keep the blood flowing all over the body. They are convenient and can be worn discreetly under clothes. The warmth relaxes the pelvic and abdominal muscles, reducing cramping and improving blood flow.

14. Acupressure

Certain types of pain are linked with anxiety and worry, which are also period cramp symptoms. Acupressure therapy stimulates the body's circulatory, lymphatic, and hormonal systems, relieving stress and anxiety. It improves sleep because it helps relax your muscles and joints. It is also beneficial for back pain and menstrual cramps.

You can feel a lot better by trying acupressure therapy. To do this, gently squeeze the area between your thumb and forefinger on one hand for 2-3 mins and repeat on the other.⁠

15. Engage in sexual activities that lead to orgasm

Some studies indicate that orgasms relieve migraines, cluster headaches, and period pain. During orgasm, the uterus contracts, blood flow increases, and your brain gets hit with natural chemicals that automatically relieve pain.

Some experts say that people who have sex during their periods experience fewer cramps and a decrease in irritability and crankiness.

16. Consume a lot of vitamins

Consuming vitamins and supplements during your period can lower the intensity of the pain you feel. If you consume 1000-1200 mg of calcium daily during your period, you could cut your menstrual symptoms in half—including moodiness and cramping.

If you experience severe menstrual symptoms during your period, you can speak with your doctor about trying out vitamins and supplements like calcium. If your doctor approves of it, you can also ask for a recommendation on which supplement to purchase and the guidelines for taking it.

17. Avoid waxing

During menstruation, the vagina tends to be more sensitive. Waxing could subject you to even worse pain and increase your chances of bruising. If you must get a wax, do it weeks before your period, or wait until it is over.

18. Avoid caffeine

The role caffeine plays in menstrual cramps is still being debated. While some sources claim it worsens PMS symptoms, more stronger sources indicate that it is not associated with PMS. In all, it may be best to stay away from it during your period.

The sources in favour of cutting out coffee believe it is linked to elevating estrogen levels, which intensify PMS symptoms such as irritability and tender breasts. If you're finding it difficult to quit, you can cut back on the quantity you consume in a day—maybe half a cup. Also, instead of caffeine, consume more tea.

Conclusion

If any of these hacks don't work and the pain persists, along with other symptoms like exhaustion or heavy periods, it might be a more serious issue. Talk to a doctor about your symptoms to determine if a treatment plan is necessary.

For people with vaginas, find out if it is normal for menstrual period to last longer than 10 days.