(Los Angeles, California, USA)
Most women need remedies for menstrual cramps at one time or another. While some women are luckier than others in how strong the cramps are, almost all of us go through times in our lives when the cramps are stronger than at other times. There can be different reasons for this.
The medical name for menstrual cramps is dysmenorrhea. There are two types that can feel exactly the same but in fact have different causes. Primary dysmenorrhea is experienced by young women in their teens and early twenties.
The cramps usually get milder after the age of 25 or after childbirth. Secondary dysmenorrhea is diagnosed when there is another identifiable cause of the cramps, such as ovarian cysts, endometriosis or use of an IUD for birth control.
If you think you might have secondary dysmenorrhea because your cramps now are worse than they used to be, see your doctor because there might be a reason for this that needs treating.
On the other hand if you are under 25 or have always suffered badly from cramps, you probably just need something to get you through the pain and discomfort. Nobody can afford to take 2 days in bed every month.
The remedies for menstrual cramps that most women try first are over the counter pain relievers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Usually these will help at least a little but a lot of women do not like to take them so often.
The severity of the cramps is often affected by hormones so taking birth control pills solves the problem for many people, but again, you might be concerned about side effects.
One of the best natural remedies for menstrual cramps is warmth. This relaxes the internal muscles that are cramping. Take a hot bath or use a heat pad over the area of the womb.
Sometimes, you may find that supplementing with certain vitamins or minerals will ease the cramps. Zinc, calcium and the B vitamins have been identified in this respect, especially for women who may be deficient in them. The effect here will not be immediate but you should notice it within 2-3 months.
There are also various herbal remedies for menstrual cramps. These include cramp bark, squaw vine, blue cohosh and evening primrose oil.
A herbalist may prescribe treatments such as Viburnum prunifolium or Cimicifuga racemosa which have an anti spasmodic effect.
Taking regular exercise can also help with this problem. Either yoga or workouts that strengthen the core muscles can be very helpful. Of course, this is something that you need to do all of the time, not only when you have the pain.
However, gentle yoga and relaxation techniques can be practiced even when the pain is strong. Any activities that reduce stress can be effective remedies for menstrual cramps.