Many women experience pain just before and /or with the onset of their period (dysmenorrhea). The pain can range from mild discomfort to debilitating pain. This could be felt as an ache and dullness in the lower abdomen and also in the lower back region. The aching and heaviness may also extend down into the groin and thighs. This can be accompanied with episodes of spasmodic cramping and for some women they can literally be doubled up in pain.
Although pain associated with menstrual blood flow is common, this does not make it normal. Unfortunately, the trend and message has been that “it is just part of being a women” and something you “just have to learn to live with.” Not so, any pain is a sign that something is out of balance and period pain is no different from any other type of pain in this regard.
Natural approaches to treating period pain such as dietary and lifestyle changes and the use of herbs are very effective in reducing and eliminating period pain. So I recommend that you seek help from a naturopath or herbalist if your life is disrupted by monthly period pains, as it certainly doesn’t have to be this way. You should also definitely seek treatment and diagnosis if your period pain is becoming more severe over time or you get period pain for the first time ever.
Below are some self-care tips to ease menstrual cramps; however please be aware that the underlying causes also need to be identified and treated to get your body back into balance and be period pain free:
- Avoid using tampons as they restrict the natural blood flow and so worsen cramping. Instead opt for menstrual cups or pads [preferably organic cotton or cloth pads]
- Avoid cold drinks and swimming in cold water during your period as this can trigger cramping.
- Apply a hot water bottle or heat pack to your abdomen and lower back.
- Rub clary sage essential oil [in a carrier oil] into your abdomen and lower back.
- Keep your abdomen, lower back and feet warm. A hot foot bath with a few drops of geranium or lavender oil may be helpful.
- Apply a ginger compress to your abdomen and lower back to reduce pain and warm the body. Apply some oil to your abdomen first to prevent the ginger from burning your skin. Then place some fresh grated ginger root between a few layers of cloth and then a hot water bottle or heat pack on top. Remove once the compress become cold or if you experience any burning and skin irritation.
- Take a warm bath with an infusion of thyme or chamomile added to the bath water.
- A good yoga position to ease menstrual cramps is to lie down on your back with your knees pulled up and resting on the floor and your feet together.
- Ginger tea [eases menstrual cramps and nausea] Finely grate 1tsp of fresh ginger root, add 1 cup of hot water and allow to seep for a few minutes before drinking.
- Nettle tea [eases cramping and heavy menstrual bleeding] Add a litre of boiling water to 2 handfuls of dried organic nettle leaf and seep for 4 hours. Drink a maximum of 3 cups daily and store the remainder in the fridge.
NB: Clary sage oil is not to be used in pregnancy. The herbal teas I have recommended are both safe and beneficial in pregnancy at the dose of 3 cups maximum daily.