Dealing with PMS and menstrual cramps naturally
By Maria Montemayor
Posted on December 13, 2021
In many countries, menstruation is a taboo topic. You may have grown up in a culture where there was not much discussion surrounding your period or the symptoms that precede it. Every month, you might silently bear your period and perhaps take an Advil for pain relief.
Now that you are living in Canada, where discussions surrounding menstruation are more common, you might be wondering, are there other ways to deal with your period? Are there any natural methods for mitigating pain or symptoms that arise before or during your menstruation? Can you better prepare for the arrival of your next period? The answer to all of these questions is yes.
You may experience one or both of these ailments during your menstrual cycle:
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a condition with symptoms like fatigue, irritability, bloating, abdominal pain, sadness, and emotional outbursts, that can occur five to 11 days before menstruation.
Dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual cramps)
Dysmenorrhea is the term for painful period cramps in the lower abdomen. The cramps can occur before or during your period.
This remedy has been used for centuries to treat menstrual conditions. The chasteberry tree is a shrub found in Europe and Asia with flowers followed by dark purple berries the size of peppercorns. In late summer/early fall, the ripe fruit is gathered and dried. Chasteberry is able to influence certain hormone levels in your body. It is available in liquid, tablets, capsules, and tea bags.
According to a study in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, peppermint is able to reduce menstrual cramp pain. The menthol in peppermint relaxes uterine muscles relieving the spasms. The research subjects in another study took peppermint capsules and peppermint extract, but peppermint is also available in essential oil and tea bags.
Keeping hydrated with plenty of fluids, like water or juice, can lessen abdominal bloating.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Both alcohol and caffeine can disrupt your sleep and contribute to PMS symptoms. According to a study in the Journal of Taibah University Medical Sciences, drinking caffeinated beverages regularly can cause menstrual abnormalities. As well, a research review suggests that 11 per cent of PMS cases can be associated with alcohol intake worldwide.
Exercise can improve PMS symptoms, like fatigue, and decrease the pain of menstrual cramps. Exercises like walking, running, dancing, swimming, pilates, and biking can increase endorphins—chemicals in the body that relieve stress and pain—and reduce PMS symptoms.
Tracking your period
It’s always good to plan ahead when it comes to your period. Each month, circle the dates when you have your period. The start of your period is the start of your menstrual cycle. With this information, you can figure out when your next period will be using a period calculator.
If you’re worried that period tracking apps pose a privacy risk, you can keep track of your physical and emotional changes using a menstrual diary. This can help you to better understand your PMS symptoms and how to treat them.
Tracking your period has many benefits. It can help you track changes with your body, recognize abnormal symptoms, and understand your mood. Charting your menstrual cycle can also help you become more familiar with your body’s fertility.
Understanding your body
Natural treatments can help reduce pain and other symptoms that may occur with your menstrual cycle, while tracking your period can help you understand your body better. Natural treatments and a menstrual diary can also help you prepare for your upcoming period and eliminate any anxieties and uncertainties you may have surrounding menstruation.