It is not easy being a woman. Aside from all the feminism-related issues out there (woman oppression, discrimination and so on), all women out there have to face physiological issues men have absolutely no idea how they feel.
Menstrual cramps are among them and most of the women who suffer every month from the harsh pain will want to know how to get rid of these cramps. Read on and find out more!
The Anatomy behind Menstruation
Menstruating may not be the nicest thing out there, but the truth is that it is that “thing” that makes women fertile and able to bear children. Regular menstruation means that the woman’s body is ready to become pregnant and that she is healthy enough to sustain the pregnancy until the delivery of the baby. So, the next time you have unbearable menstrual cramps, remember that it is all for a great cause!
Basically, a normal menstrual cycle has 28 days (but slight variations are more than just normal as well and some women out there have cycles that are actually longer than that or shorter than that).
By the halfway of the menstrual cycle, your body will be ready for ovulation (for having ovules or eggs implanted with spermatozoids). Thus, the egg will begin to travel down the Fallopian tubes.
When this happens, the lining of the uterus will thicken with blood – just in case pregnancy occurs. In case pregnancy does not occur, the lining (and the egg itself) will not be useful any longer – so it will be released further on. This is your menstruation.
Menstrual Cramps: Why Do You get Them?
Menstrual cramps appear when the uterus is contracting to release the blood lining. Some women have this, some don’t. Even more, there are multiple types of cramps: some are long lasting and annoying, while others are very painful and acute.
Some women experience menstrual cramps 1-2 days before the menstruation occurs, some experience them during their menstruation and the unluckiest ones have to face them both before and during the menstruation as well (with varying degrees of intensity).
Every human body is different and it may react differently to the menstrual cycle, so don’t worry if you notice that one of your friends doesn’t have cramps and you have or if they feel pain in their lower back rather than in their lower abdomen – it is normal!
Also, it is worth noting that there may be cramps that can point out a health issue. Primary dysmenorrhea occurs normally, as explained above and it can vary in intensity, duration and type of pain.
However, secondary dysmenorrhea occurs when there may be a health issue such as uterine fibroids (non-cancerous tumors in the inside wall of the uterus), endometriosis (when the tissue of the uterus’ lining develops outside of the actual uterus), the pelvic inflammatory disease (a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by a bacterium), cervical stenosis (when the cervix is not opened enough and this limits the blood flow) or adenomyosis (when the tissue lining the uterus grows inside the muscles of the uterus).
Together with menstrual cramps, women experience a series of other symptoms (which can also be felt both during the menstruation and before it). These symptoms are very frequently referred as Pre Menstrual Symptoms (or PMS) and they include bloating, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, loose stools (and even diarrhea), constipation, lightheadedness, headaches and sweating as well.
Risk Factors in Severe Menstrual Cramps
According to recent studies, only about 15% of the women out there would describe their menstrual pain as being severe. Medical professionals have also identified a series of risk factors that influence the intensity of the cramps:
- Generally, women who do not exercise generally have more painful cramps than those who do.
- It has also been shown that emotional stress can increase the intensity of the cramps.
- Women who are younger than 20 of age may experience more severe menstrual cramps as well.
- Also, heavy bleeding during the menstruation can lead to a more severe type of pain.
- Not having given birth yet is also believed to influence the intensity of the menstrual pain.
- Last, but not least, research has shown that those who start puberty at an age younger than 11 can develop more severe cramps during their menstruation.
How Do You Get Rid of Them?
Unfortunately, being fertile also means that there is a certain degree of likelihood that you will experience menstrual cramps. You cannot get rid of these cramps “once and for all”, but you can indeed ameliorate the symptoms that come with them. Here are some things you should certainly keep in mind:
1- Over the counter medication is one of the most commonly encountered types of treatment women in this situation acquire. Pain killers, anti-vomiting pills and several other types of pills can alleviate the symptoms.
2- Many physicians will prescribe their patients with hormonal birth control pills, which can get rid of the PMS symptoms altogether and can regulate the menstrual cycle as well. Although some women believe that this may not be a safe way, the truth is that the largest majority of the doctors out there would recommend this solution – especially in the case of the severe cramps.
3- Some physicians may recommend certain types of vitamin supplements as well. Vitamin E, thiamin and omega-3 (which can be taken from foods such as salmon, for example) are known to help with PMS symptoms in general.
4- Home remedies can work as well. Taking a hot bath, placing a bottle with hot water on your belly (or a heating pad, for that matter) and massages can really help. Furthermore, sex can help as well.
5- Eastern remedies are quite commonly encountered too. It is believed that Yoga and Acupuncture can alleviate the pain and the other symptoms that come with menstrual cramps too. Also, some women practice meditation, as it takes their mind off the pain.