How bad are periods actually?

Grace Jones

According to the Mayo Clinic, menstrual cramps are throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen. Women often have menstrual cramps before and during their menstrual periods. While some women only experience mild or annoying symptoms, others suffer through debilitating pain that can interfere with everyday activities.
During a period, the uterus contracts to expel excess uterine lining. Prostaglandins, which are substances similar to hormones, trigger the uterine muscle to contract. When the concentration of prostaglandins is higher, menstrual cramps are more severe.
Cramps can feel aching, tugging, or stabbing. Women might have an upset stomach during their period, but period cramps are located in a different area. The pain is often felt lower in the abdomen and can reach the lower legs or upper back.
Dr. Jen Gunter is a gynecologist who writes a popular women’s health blog. In a new post, Dr. Gunter writes that “period cramps are often much more painful than heart attacks.” While the uterus is contracting, “pressure on the uterus can be just as high as it is during the “pushing” stage of labor,” she adds.
If you need an analogy to describe period pain, Dr. Gunter advises to “use labor or cutting your finger off without an anesthetic.”

How to relieve period cramps?
1. Drink more water – Water reduces bloating during your period and hot water can stimulate blood flow.
2. Eat foods with anti-inflammatory properties – Food can offer natural relief for cramps while tasting great. They can help promote blood flow and relax the uterus. Berries, tomatoes, pineapples, spices, leafy green vegetables, almonds and fatty fish are all examples of foods that can reduce inflammation.
3. Drink decaf – Caffeine narrows blood vessels, constricting the uterus and causing cramps that are even more painful.
4. Apply heat – Heat can help muscles relax, improve blood flow and relieve tension. Recommended activities include using a heating pad, taking a hot shower or relaxing in a hot bath.
5. Exercise – Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel happy, reduce pain and relax your muscles. Fifteen minutes of yoga, light stretching or walking might be all you need to feel a little better during your period.
6. Reduce stress – Stress often makes cramps worse. Using stress relief techniques like meditation, deep breathing, yoga or guided imagery can reduce your pain.
7. Take safe medication – Anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen reduce the number of prostaglandins in your body, which in turn provides relief from cramping. Only take over-the-counter medication when you start feeling cramps in order to get the best results.