One of the most common period symptoms is cramps. These muscle contractions are usually localized to the abdominal and pelvic region but can also occur in the upper thighs for some women. To leverage heat therapy, people should apply a hot water bottle, electric blanket, or heating pad to the area of the body experiencing discomfort. To maintain safety, consider using a towel or sheet to create a barrier, so the hot surface is not in direct contact with the skin. Alternatively, a soak in a warm bath can also be effective and ease associated stress.
2. Get in a workout
Exercising during the time of the month when a woman wants to do nothing more than curl into a ball can seem counterintuitive. But a 2016 study found that moderate exercises such as walking, yoga, or gentle stretches can help ease period symptoms. Physical activity helps release endorphins, which can blunt pain receptors in the body and provide relief. Exercise is especially effective at blocking discomfort associated with period cramps.
3. Massage and essential oils
Another great way to combat period pain is with a massage. Research has shown that massaging the abdominal area can aid in reducing discomfort. Meanwhile, if lower back pain is the culprit, focus on that area of the body instead. For an added boost, consider incorporating essential oils that can provide topical relief. Popular options include rosemary, clary sage, peppermint, rose, and fennel. However, not all essential oils can be used directly on the skin without the use of carrier oils. So, before including one of the above options, research if a carrier oil such as coconut, olive, or almond oil should be used.
Honorable mention solutions
While the above 3 approaches tend to be the most popular natural treatment solutions for painful periods, more options remain. Popular contenders include engaging in sex or masturbation for endorphin release and adding supplements like fish oil, calcium, vitamin D, or B12. A link exists between dehydration and cramps, so boosting water consumption throughout the day can also aid in reducing discomfort.
Don’t suffer in silence
Although some period pain can be expected, don’t be afraid to speak up if symptoms interfere with quality of life. If dysmenorrhea requires a woman to repeatedly take days off from work or school or interferes with the ability to manage basic functions, speaking with a gynecologist or OB/GYN is a smart first step to begin managing period symptoms.