Do you get painful cramps every month before and during your period? Well you’re not alone.
80% of women experience menstrual cramps at some point in their menstruating years. Period cramps can start when you first get your period as a teen and last until you hit menopause - but it varies from person to person.
While bad period cramps are something so many of us experience, there is little information available about what causes cramps, why we all experience different levels of cramps, and the best thing for getting rid of period cramps.
So, this blog talks about everything related to menstrual cramps with some great tips about how to cramp less overall.
learning about period cramps
are period cramps normal?
Yes, they are absolutely normal and an expected symptom of getting our periods.
Most women usually experience period cramps before your period starts and on the first two days of your period.
what causes period cramps?
Have you ever wondered, why do period cramps hurt so bad? Well let’s understand exactly what happens in our bodies to cause period cramps.
Period cramps are caused by an excess of prostaglandins.
During your period, your body releases hormone-like substances, called prostaglandins, which enables your uterine muscles to contract. This allows your lining to be released during menstruation.
The release of prostaglandins that causes your uterus to contract also leads to some inflammation of your uterus - which extends the pain to your abdomen and is the cause of period cramps.
So the more prostaglandins your body releases, the more intense your menstrual cramps will be.
what are the symptoms of period cramps?
How period cramps feel can vary from person to person. But for the majority of women, the symptoms will involve pain in your lower abdomen - which can extend to your back and thighs for some people.
Each person can experience different types of period pain. While for some people the cramps can be subtle and cause ongoing discomfort, for others menstrual cramps can involve a short but sharp pain in your abdomen.
Some other symptoms also include getting a headache, feeling nauseous, dizziness and experiencing loose stools when you go to the toilet.
do period cramps get worse with age?
Have you ever felt like your period cramps are getting worse and wondered, do period cramps increase with age?
Period cramps can often get worse with age due to other health conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids.
This worsening of menstrual cramps is called secondary dysmenorrhoea, and can involve more severe cramp symptoms like pain extending towards your legs, vomiting and fatigue.
Secondary dysmenorrhoea usually begins to affect people between the ages of 30-45 and can last until you start menopause.
is brown discharge and cramps before period normal?
Brown discharge and cramps before your period are usually normal and nothing to be concerned about.
The brown discharge is simply your vaginal discharge with some blood as your body prepares for you to menstruate.
Similarly, cramps before your period are caused by your body starting to release prostaglandins so your uterus can contract.
why are my period cramps so bad all of a sudden?
Normal period cramps should feel like a tolerable pain which only happens 1 to 2 days before your period and the first 2 to 3 days of your period.
If you get severe cramps that last throughout your period, this could be a sign of a health condition such as endometriosis.
If you are someone that experiences painful cramps that are unbearable, we recommend that you consult a gynaecologist to prevent any complications.
are you unable to work during periods due to menstrual pain and cramps?
5 to 10% of girls and women experience severe period cramps in their life - enough to disrupt their life and prevent them from going on with daily activities such as work, school and other activities.
While this can be very inconvenient, it is important to prioritise your health and rest to ensure your body is not overworked while menstruating.
Irritability and mood changes during periods is also completely normal as periods make your hormone levels fluctuate - causing mental and physical discomfort and increasing our anxiety about menstrual cramps.
In fact, our detailed study with 250 participants across India and the UK show that periods have a direct impact on mental health.
Read this blog to learn more about the relationship between premenstrual syndrome (PMS), periods and mental health.
can premenstrual dysphoric disorder (pmdd) cause period cramps?
PMDD is a more intense form of PMS that lasts longer and it can cause bloating, menstrual cramps, breast tenderness and headaches up to one to two weeks before your period is due to arrive.
Your mental health can also be affected from PMDD due to hormonal fluctuations, causing extreme anxiety, irritability or depression.
If you feel like PMDD is affecting your daily life it is best to consult a mental health professional to get medical advice.
how to alleviate period cramps
While cramps can be very annoying and uncomfortable, there are ways you can manage period cramps effectively.
So what is the best way to get rid of period cramps? Let’s dive right into things to help with period cramps!
what are the best drinks for period cramps?
The best drink to help relieve period cramps is water.
As your body releases your period, you lose some water which can cause dehydration and worsen your cramps. So drinking plenty of water can help your muscles relax and provide a natural relief for cramps.
Drinking tea can also help relieve cramps. The best tea for period cramps is chamomile tea as it contains anti-inflammatory properties which will help reduce the inflammation caused by your uterus contracting.
what is the best food for period cramps?
Some suggested best foods for period cramps include:
- Leafy greens such as spinach and kale which can help offset iron loss during periods.
- Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and flaxseeds. These have anti-inflammatory properties which help reduce the swelling in your uterus.
- Fruits such as watermelon and cucumber are great for period cramps as they help you stay hydrated
- Ginger, which has high anti-inflammatory effects and can soothe aching muscles
That said, all of us have different cravings during periods, and might find that different foods help us feel better – so listen to your body and make the best decisions for yourself.
what is the best sleeping position for period cramps?
The best position for period cramps while you sleep is the foetal position.
Rolling to your side and tucking in your arms and legs can help release pressure off your abdominal muscles. This can help reduce tension and reduce your period cramps.
what are some good at home remedies for period cramps?Some of the best remedies for period cramps at home include:
- Using a hot-water bottle or disposable heat wraps to soothe your sore abdomen
- Drinking herbal tea and ensuring high water intake
- Avoiding high levels of sugar, which can cause dehydration and increase bloating
what is the best medicine for period cramps?
If you’re frustrated from your period cramps and wondered how to relieve period cramps fast, then don’t worry because there are medications available to help you!
The best pills for period cramps are regular over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol.
There are also medications for menstrual cramp treatments available at local chemists which are especially for period pain relief.
While the names of these may vary across different countries, they primarily contain salts which have anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce the inflammation in your uterus.
Simply go to your local chemist and ask the pharmacist to advise you.
do muscle relaxers help with period cramps?
An antispasmodic muscle relaxer, which is typically used to help relieve involuntary muscle spasms, can help relax your abdominal and pelvic muscles.
So taking a muscle relaxer, such as Buscopan, can help relieve menstrual cramps fast.
what is the best period product for menstrual cramps?
The ideal product for menstrual cramps is one that ensures your period does not cause you any further discomfort than what is being caused by the cramps already.
Many women find that the stickiness of pads and the fear of their period leaking onto their clothes is the last thing they want.
Thankfully there is a more comfortable and sustainable alternative which can help reduce the overall discomfort of your period while you deal with period cramps: menstrual cups!
As menstrual cups are an insertable period product that collect your period flow rather than absorbing it, once you have inserted the cup correctly you won’t even feel it inside you.
You can watch this video to learn more about how to insert a menstrual cup and how menstrual cups work.
what is the best menstrual cup for period cramps?
Many users swear by the Asan cup and claim that it is the best menstrual cup for cramps because they can't feel it inside them so have often forgotten they’re even on their periods.
In fact, while this isn't medically proven, some Asan cup users even say that using this menstrual cup reduces their period pain.
As the Asan cup is made from Class 6 Medical grade silicone, which is the highest quality silicone and same material used in breast implants and heart stents, it is super safe to sit inside you.
So, unlike sanitary pads and tampons which contain toxins, with the Asan cup you have nothing to worry about!
So what are you waiting for? Make the switch now to help ease your period discomfort.
can menstrual cups give you cramps?
You may be wondering, can period cups give you cramps? or can a menstrual cup make cramps worse?
The answer is absolutely not!
A menstrual cup sits in your vaginal canal, which is below your uterus. So it is in an entirely different part of your pelvis to your uterus - that causes your period cramps.
frequently asked questions
Does chocolate help period cramps?
Dark chocolate is known to help reduce period cramps as it is rich in magnesium - which helps reduce your stomach ache through relaxing your muscles.
A good amount of dark chocolate is 40-120 grams daily during your period.
Does coffee make period cramps worse?
Yes, coffee can make cramps feel worse.
This is because caffeine can cause your blood vessels in your uterus to become smaller, making the flow of your blood slower and harder to release.
As a result this can increase the inflammation in your uterus and add to your period cramps.
So it’s best to switch to decaf while you’re on your period or avoid drinking coffee for those few days.
Do bananas help with period cramps?
Bananas are known to be good for cramps as they are rich in fibre and potassium. This will stop your body from retaining water and as a result help you have easy bowel movements.
So you’ll feel less bloated, helping you feel less pain and discomfort overall.
Does pickle juice help with period cramps?
While this has not been medically proven, researchers say that pickle juice can help relieve period cramps as it helps trigger muscle reflexes when the juice gets in contact with the back of your throat.
This reflex can shut down neurons in muscles all over your body, essentially turning off the cramping feeling for a short period of time.
Could I still be pregnant with period cramps?
You may be wondering, could I have period cramps and still be pregnant? Are these period cramps or something else? Well this depends on whether or not your period has come or not.
Well the simple answer is yes.
If you are experiencing bad period cramps but no period, then this could be a sign of being pregnant as cramps are a symptom of pregnancy.
So if you are sexually active, your period has been delayed by more than 8 days, and are experiencing menstrual cramps after a missed period, then you should take a pregnancy test to find out if you’re pregnant or not.
What is the best painkiller for period cramps?
As detailed earlier in the blog, many people facing period cramps claim the best period cramp pills are paracetamol or over-the-counter period medicines.
Can you take tylenol for period cramps?
Yes, tylenol contains paracetamol which is a pain reliever. So this can help reduce your period cramps.
Can zoloft make period cramps worse?
Research shows that zoloft, which is an antidepressant, can make you bleed more and make your period cramps worse.
If you have been prescribed zoloft by your doctor, it is best to consult them about how to manage your period cramps if the medication is making your cramps worse.
Can gas feel like period cramps?
It is completely normal to confuse gas pains with period cramps as they both have a similar pain.
But the key difference is that while period cramps typically consist of a dull and ongoing pain that can extend to your lower back, gas pains are usually short-term and will disappear within a few seconds.
Are period cramps as painful as a heart attack?
Have you experienced extreme cramps and wondered, are period cramps equivalent to a heart attack pain? Well you’re not alone.
Many doctors have ruled that severe period pain can be as painful as a heart attack and should not be ignored.
Please consult a doctor for menstrual cramps that are giving you unbearable pain so that you can undertake the necessary medication or treatment to help relieve your condition.
Can you die from period cramps?
No, you can’t die from period cramps.
While severe period cramps can feel extremely painful, it cannot kill you.
If you are experiencing episodes of fainting and vomiting due to severe period pain, then you should visit a doctor to understand the issue.
Are period cramps like contractions?
Severe period pain can often feel like contractions because in fact period cramps are contractions.
This is due to your uterus contracting to release your lining during menstruation.
Do menstrual cups make period cramps worse?
Definitely not! As discussed earlier in the blog, a menstrual cup sits below the uterus in your vaginal canal.
Since your uterus is where your cramps are caused, it has nothing to do with using a menstrual cup.
Can you get period-like cramps if you have a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
If you have a UTI infection, you probably have a few symptoms including discoloured or thick discharge, itching and irritation around your vagina, and discomfort while peeing.
One of the symptoms of a UTI is also cramps in your lower back or abdomen, which can feel similar to period cramps.
Can pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) feel like period cramps?
PID is an infection that develops in your reproductive system - including around your fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries.
Many women can mistake PID for period cramps as they can both feel quite similar.
The common symptoms of PID include intense pelvic cramps, vaginal discharge with an odour and irregular vaginal period between your periods.
If you are experiencing a combination of these symptoms, it is most likely not period cramps - so it’s best to consult a doctor about it.
Do period cramps burn calories?
No, not really.
While your metabolism might fluctuate during menstruation, the difference is not very significant so you don’t burn many more calories than usual.