For women, having period cramps, also known as menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea, is one of the most commonly annoying parts of their periods. They could strike before or during that particular time of the month. A large number of women suffer from it routinely.
The cramps are felt in the lower back or belly, ranging from mild to severe. For some women, the discomfort is merely annoying while for others, period cramps could be severe enough to impact their daily activities for several days each month. Emotional stress may increase the chance of having period cramps. Period cramps could be treated with hormonal birth control, OTC medicine, and some homemade treatments. This article is written to help you figure out some effective home remedies for period cramps with easy-to-find ingredients.
First of all, you should acknowledge some basics about this condition. Check it out!
What Are Period Cramps?
A lot of women experience cramps before and during their periods. The pains, in essence, are caused by prostaglandins, which is a chemical that the body of a woman produces to make the muscle of the uterus contract. Contracting muscles will help in pushing blood out via the vagina of a woman during her period.
Maybe, you know periods often come once per month. Sometimes, it is not regular in the younger girl. They may skip one month. However, when the periods of a woman become more frequent, cramps will be more likely.
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They could be rather annoying or extremely painful, and last for several days. At first, girls may worry if they do not understand that cramps are often a normal part of getting a monthly period.
What Are Causes Of Period Cramps?
Period cramps and pain happen when the muscular wall of womb tightens, as mentioned earlier. The mild contract keeps passing through the belly, yet they are often mild that most women could not feel them. During your monthly period, the womb’s wall starts to tighten and contract more vigorously to promote the womb lining to shed away as a regular part of your period. Once the muscular wall of womb contracts, it will compress blood vessels lining the womb. Temporarily, this will cut off the supply of blood and oxygen to the organ. Due to having not enough oxygen, womb’s tissues release chemicals which trigger pain.
While the female body is releasing such pain-triggering chemicals, it also produces other chemicals named prostaglandins. This chemical encourages muscles of the womb to contract more, thereby further boosting the severity of pain. Doctors do not understand why some women experience muscle cramps or have painful menstruation while others do not. Perhaps, it is because some women have a build-up of prostaglandins, meaning that they experience stronger contractions.
There are also other causes of period cramps. Period pain may be caused by a condition, though less common. Doctors call this secondary dysmenorrhoea. The menstrual pain linked to a specific situation may impact older women aged from 30 to 45.
The conditions that may result in period cramps and pain are:
- Uterine fibroids
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
You might realize a change in the typical pain pattern if your menstrual pain is associated with one of the conditions above. For instance, the cramps and discomfort may last longer and be more severe than usual. If your period cramps are caused by an underlying problem, you may also experience bleeding in between periods, irregular periods, a foul-smelling, or thick vaginal discharge, and pain during intercourse.
What Are Symptoms Of Period Cramps?
When having period cramps, you might:
- Feel the pressure in your belly
- Have aching pain in the abdomen and pelvis
- Have pain in the lower back, hips, and inner thighs
When the cramps become severe, the symptoms might include:
How Long Will Your Period Pain Last?
Menstrual cramps and pain begin when your bleeding starts, despite some women have cramps a few days before the beginning of their period.
Usually, the pain lasts from 48 to 72 hours. Sometimes, it may last longer. Often, it is at its worst when you bleed the most.
Teenage girls usually have period pain as they start getting period. Period pain which does not have an underlying cause may improve when the woman becomes older. Many women also see an improvement after giving birth.
What Are Risk Factors?
You might be prone to having period cramps if:
- You are less than 30 years old
- You began puberty early, at 11 years old or younger
- You have heavy menstrual bleeding during your periods
- You have irregular period bleeding
- You smoke
- You have never given birth
- Your family has one or many members having dysmenorrhea
- You have low body weight
When To See A Doctor?
If your period cramps disrupt your daily life monthly, and if your symptoms worsen progressively, or if you are older than 25 years old and started having period cramps severely, then you should see your doctor.
Top 30 Home Remedies For Period Cramps Pain & Nausea In Women
1. Hot Compress
For many years, people use a hot or warm compress to deal with different types of pain, including menstrual cramps.
Applying heat to your belly as well as lower back may relieve pain. According to a study in 2012, women from 18 to 30 years old having regular menstrual cycles found that a heat patch at 40°C was as effective as ibuprofen.
In case you do not have a heating pad, use a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to apply to your tummy. This alternative will also reduce pain significantly.
Alternatively, you can also soak a towel in water, wring out excess water and put it in the microwave for about 1 minute. Put it on your lower abdomen. Repeat every several minutes to get rid of the pain.
Taking a hot shower or having a warm bath also makes you feel more relaxed.
2. Chamomile Tea
The study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that chamomile tea has pain-relieving properties, not to mention anti-inflammatory properties. This herbal tea has medicinal benefits thanks to compounds which may fight infections caused by colds and relieve period cramps.
Drinking chamomile tea will bring high levels of two compounds in your urine, which are glycine and hippurate. Glycerine is chemical which may relieve muscle spasms and could act as the nerve relaxant. High level of glycine may relax the uterus, explaining why tea may relieve period cramps. Hippurate which is a breakdown product of the tea flavonoids has been associated with antibacterial property. According to researchers, the increased hippurate levels after drinking chamomile tea explains why this herbal tea has the infection-fighting ability.
- Heat some water to the boiling point
- Add fresh or dried chamomile to an infuser and place it over your cup
- Pour the hot water into your cup, cover the lid, and let it steep for about 5 – 7 minutes
- Remove the infuser and enjoy the tea.
Using ginger is one of the simplest way for period cramp relief thanks to its natural medicinal properties. It is effective in relieving pain and inflammation. Thus, it is used to alleviate the pain associated with period cramps. Also, ginger is used for an upset stomach and nausea, which are two symptoms accompanying by menstruation. The University of Maryland Medical Center also recommended taking ginger twice or thrice per day while going through period cramps.
The warming essential oil of ginger may improve circulation as well as blood flow, thereby making it an ideal treatment for tired muscles. On the other hand, you can also make use of ginger tea, which is thought to be as effective as ibuprofen for reducing painful periods.
- Slice ginger root into pieces
- Peel and cut it into small slices
- Put 2 tablespoons of ginger root pieces into a cup of water
- Boil it up and let it simmer for about 1 hour
- Strain and drink the tea
- If you cannot make ginger tea on your own, buy pre-packaged dried ginger tea bags in supermarkets and follow the directions in its package.
- Although ginger tea is rather safe in general, it still has some side effects. You should avoid ginger tea if having peptic ulcers because it may worsen them. Besides, use too much ginger may lead to mouth irritation, diarrhea or constipation, and heartburn.
- Avoid ginger if you are taking blood-thinning drugs or suffering from a bleeding disorder. Consult your doctor before taking ginger if you suffer from gallstones.
4. Massage With Essential Oils
Massage therapy is one of the great ways to cure menstrual pain. A study showed that women with menstrual cramp and pain caused by endometriosis found a significant reduction in terms of pain when massaging with essential oils. When the hands of therapists move around your tummy, back, and side and press specific points on it, it will relieve pain and cramps.
Furthermore, adding essential oils to your massage may bring extra benefits, especially for your skin. You can purchase a scented massage oil or make it by yourself. Remember to dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil (grapeseed, sweet almond, or vegetable oil) before using. Just make sure that you use essential oil safely.
5. Fresh Basil
Eating a handful of fresh basil leaves may help to relieve period cramps and pain. Why? It sounds crazy, but it is true. There are scientific reasons behind this claim. Basil may prevent prostaglandins, the chemical substances that perform several functions, including initiating both menstruation and labor. Some women seem to produce an excessive amount of prostaglandins, thereby having more painful cramps.
Basil is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream via mucous membranes of the mouth and inhibits the production of prostaglandins. So, now pick up a basil plant and nurture it in your kitchen. When that particular time of the month arrives, and your menstrual cramps begin, make up a batch of sweet cucumber basil juice to relieve pains.
- Add 1 tablespoon of basil leaves to a cup of boiling water
- After covering it up, let it cool down
- Have this solution every several hours to relieve cramps
As an alternative, you could crush a handful of basil leaves to extract its juice. Then, add 2 teaspoons of its juice to a cup of warm water. Have this solution thrice per day during your period. For further benefits, add fresh basil leaves to your daily diet.
Cinnamon is a favorite spice used worldwide and may deal with several conditions, including pelvic pain, diarrhea, and menstrual cramps. There are active compounds in cinnamon providing it with unique healing abilities, which are cinnamyl alcohol, cinnamaldehyde, and cinnamyl acetate.
Symptoms of painful menstrual cramps may be relieved by using cinnamon thanks to its antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial benefits. By combating microorganisms, cinnamon reduces inflammation. Also, this spice is a powerhouse of antioxidants which may prevent cell deterioration caused by free radicals. It may also regulate sugar levels, prevent blood clotting, and fight off pathogens.
According to a study carried out by Korean researchers in 2012, cinnamon was one of the essential oils used for aromatherapy massage because it brought a significant alleviation in period cramps and pain.
- Boil cinnamon in water for about 15 minutes
- Add honey or milk for flavoring and drink it
This mixture is an excellent source of manganese, iron, and calcium which may boost your immune system naturally. You had better drink cinnamon tea regularly, particularly before your period. Add cinnamon by sprinkling it over your oatmeal, toast, cereal, main dishes, and snacks. Or, you can also sprinkle cinnamon in your coffee grounds upon making a cup of coffee. Combining it with other herbs like Lovage Root, Motherwort, or Angelica Root, is also helpful regarding period cramp treatment.
You can also look for cinnamon supplements after consulting your doctor.
7. Diet Changes
Research has proven that diet plays a vital role in controlling symptoms of period cramps. Maintaining a healthy diet may go a long way to prevent period pains. A study was conducted to find out differences between menstrual pains in women maintaining a healthy lifestyle and those who do not. It was shown that decreasing fat and increasing veggies in the diet may ease monthly cramps and pain, while the low-fat diet may reduce inflammation in the body.
To have a healthy diet, you should consume fewer saturated fats in animal products, opt for healthier ones such as unsaturated fats in olive oil, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Also, get 25-35% of your daily calories from the healthier fats which are found in nuts, fish, and veggie oil.
Give a try to papaya, brown rice, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, olive oil, chicken, leafy green vegetables, fish and flaxseed. Also, focus on the foods containing a high content of boron. This is a mineral helping the human body absorb calcium as well as phosphorus. Also, it decreases the period cramps. Foods with high content of boron are peanut butter, chickpeas, prunes, bananas, and avocados.
You could also take boron supplements in case your diet does not supply enough. Nonetheless, consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplements.
On the other hand, during menstruation, it is great to avoid some foods causing stomach bloating and water retention, which are alcohol, fatty foods, carbonated beverages, salty foods, and caffeine. Decreasing or cutting out such foods will lessen cramps and reduce tension.
8. Fish Oil And Vitamin B1
Another natural option is to take fish oil supplements, vitamin B1 or even both of them. It was found that women taking fish oil plus vitamin B1 reported fewer signs and symptoms as well as less pain than those taking regular oil. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids which may help reduce inflammation and interfere with the production of prostaglandins of your body. Dr. William Smith from the University of Michigan said that fatty acids found in fish oils produced few prostaglandins than the omega-6 fatty acids found in veggie sources.
Fish oil may lower the levels of prostaglandins, resulting in less blood clotting as well as vasoconstriction – the leading causes of period cramps. The EPA and DHA found in fish oil may help prevent menopausal problems, postmenopausal osteoporosis, preeclampsia, and even decrease the potential risk of breast cancers.
9. Drink More Water
Period cramps may be reduced when you drink more water as it may ease bloating, which makes its symptoms worse. You had better drink 6-8 glasses of water each day, particularly during periods. Add a lemon wedge, or some mint leaves to flavor it. During your period, limit your salt intake because it encourages bloating and fluid retention. Some women have diarrhea associated with period cramps, so it is crucial to replace the lost fluids by drinking lots of water.
In case you do not like drink too much water, you can do a few things to increase your fluid intake. Start by drinking a glass of fruit-infused water after waking up in the morning. Drink tea, flavored mineral water for hydration. Make a pitcher of mint, cucumber, or lemon water to drink during the day for a spa-like treat. Or, sip a cup of low sodium broth to boost your fluid intake. Staying hydrated is not only suitable for your period, but also your overall health.
Among home remedies for period cramps mentioned here, acupuncture may be lesser known. It is a component of traditional Chinese medicine, involve sticking the skin with a few small needles to help stimulate the body at specific points. Acupuncture helps to relax the nervous system, thereby relieving cramps. In details, relaxing the nervous system will lead to increased blood flow to internal organs.
Acupuncture is even thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect. A report published in the journal Human Reproduction Update has shown that acupuncture brings more significant improvement in menstrual pain intensity along with related symptoms to women. However, you should go for manual acupuncture instead of the electro-acupuncture as the former is more effective in treating menstrual pain.
11. Increase Magnesium In Your Diet
Dietary magnesium may help in easing cramps and pain during menstruation. A Cochrane is an author of Your Healthiest Life Now who reviewed the effectiveness of magnesium on period cramps. He said that getting enough magnesium might assist in relieving pain.
You can find magnesium in various foods. This mineral helps to regulate muscle and nerve functioning, not to mention other vital tasks. The recommended dietary permit of magnesium intake for women of childbearing age is approximately 320 mg every day. Just ½ cup of boiled spinach and an ounce of dry almonds offer 80 mg. However, ask your healthcare provider about the best type of magnesium intake for you.
Fennel is an herb and spice which is widely known for its valuable medicinal uses as it has minerals, phytonutrients, and phytoestrogens which act as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antispasmodic. It may help relax the uterus’ muscles, thereby relieving discomfort and cramping.
- Put a teaspoon of fennel seeds into a cup of boiling water
- Let it simmer on the low heat for about 5 minutes
- Turn off the heat and strain the tea
- Add a teaspoon of honey and mix them well
- Drink the tea twice per day for 3 days before the starting date of your period
- Keep drinking as necessary
13. Blackstrap Molasses
Molasses is thick brown syrup which is considered as a healthy sweetener. Coming from sugar cane, it can be formed when the sugar syrup is boiled to become crystalline substances. Molasses can replace maple syrup or honey. They contain a lot of minerals, nutrients, calcium, iron, and other ingredients which are beneficial to the overall health. Molasses are divided into various types and grades. The best kind is blackstrap molasses whose health benefit is reducing period cramps and pain.
Women suffering from this issue are advised to take from 2 to 3 tablespoons of molasses every day to help lessen pain. In molasses, you will find ingredients that may prevent the uterus from cramps, which are magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, vitamin B6 and iron. These healthy components will maintain healthy muscles, benefiting your body from inside. The calcium and iron content in blackstrap molasses help replenish the lost iron during menstruations.
You can easily find molasses in most groceries and health stores. Drink it directly about 1-2 times per day. Also, you can combine it with almond milk or soy milk to have a healthy drink day and night.
Remedy 1: Blackstrap molasses milk
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of blackstrap molasses to a cup of warm milk
- Have this mixture when you have to face period cramps.
Remedy 2: Blackstrap molasses cookies
- Mix ½ cup of blackstrap molasses with eggs to make cookie and reap health benefits. Cookies from black molasses rather than sugar may ease cramps.
The great thing about this ingredient is that it does not come with any side effect.
This is a common herb grown for both culinary and medicinal uses for over 2000 years. Parsley is a member of the carrot family and used as a favorite garnish. Herbalists often recommend this herb as an emmenagogue, a substance inducing menstruation because parsley has oils containing two compounds, myristicin, and apiol. These substances are uterine stimulants that may induce mild contractions as well as dilate the cervix. Thus, they may stimulate the menstrual process and relieve pain and cramps. It also helps in regulating irregular cycles.
Currently, the dose for safe and effective period cramp treatment is 6 grams each day.
- Put ¼ cup of fresh parsley in a mug
- Pour a cup of boiling water into the mug and let it steep for 5 minutes
- After straining, have this tea instantly
- Drink the tea twice per day during your period to reduce pain
15. Apple Cider Vinegar
There are countless benefits that apple cider vinegar brings to you, ranging from skin, hair and overall healthcare. It has a long history to be used for many different functions, like for dressing salads, killing weeds, making pickles, and more. Nowadays, this ingredient is increasingly popular thanks to its excellent nutrient contents. It has a positive impact on menstrual cramps. It regulates blood clotting, thereby decreasing the duration of your period and the amount of blood loss. This contributes to preventing anemia.
The calcium and potassium content of apple cider vinegar may also decrease cramping by easing uterus’ muscles. It is also the right solution for excessive menstrual bleeding. Apple cider vinegar not only regulates your blood flow but also is a natural blood thinner. Incorporating some apple cider vinegar to your diet during your period will make it shorter and easier to handle.
- Dilute 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in water
- Drink this solution once per day before the starting day of your period
- Keep drinking during your period
In case your cramps are too intense, have it every 5 hours.
16. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is well-known for its therapeutic properties. It may induce relaxation, treat burns, and relieve pain and inflammation. The research conducted by Iranian researchers showed that women who inhaled lavender oil felt less pain and cramps. Their menstrual symptoms were also fewer. Medical professionals suggest using this oil for menstrual cramps not only because it is easy to use and inexpensive, but it comes with no side effects as well.
- Combine 5 drops of lavender oil with 1 teaspoon of almond oil
- Put a small amount of this mixture on your tummy
- Massage gently
- Inhale the remaining oil
- Do this method twice per day for about 1 week
17. Rosemary Oil
While there is no scientific evidence to this folk use of rosemary, this powerful herb has been proven beneficial in different health-related problems, including respiratory illnesses, dysmenorrhea, and colic. Rosemary may prevent the pain signals from being transmitted to the brain. The antinociceptive activity of rosemary has been confirmed in some studies Those studies used animal subjects that were induced with pain to show off how effective rosemary is. The results were remarkable but further trials on humans, especially on female subjects with menstrual cramps, are needed.
- Combine 5 drops of rosemary oil with 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- Then, spread a thin layer of the mixture on your tummy
- Massage gently
- Repeat this routine twice per day for 3-4 days
18. St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is one of the oldest and most widely researched herbal treatment. It is licensed as a popular treatment for anxiety, depression, and sleeping disorders. Moreover, this herb may also treat other types of diseases, like the pain associated with menstruation.
The study carried out by researchers from the University of Exeter in the UK proved that women using St. John’s Wort reported remarkable improvement in symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or menstrual cramps. Also, there were no side effects afterward. Thus, St. John’s Wort is worth mentioning in this list of best home remedies for period cramps.
- Boil 1 cup of water in a pot
- Add 2 teaspoons of dried St. John’s Wort into the boiling water and stir well
- Remove from the heat and strain the tea
- Have this solution before your bedtime
You can chew on flaxseeds to relieve menstrual cramps. Scientists have studied the biological activities of flaxseeds, attributing to the high amount of phenolic compounds. Using flaxseeds may help control bleeding, and excess bleeding during menstruation leads to not only more pain but also anemia and greater discomfort. It was recommended taking 25 grams of flaxseed every day for 2 menstrual cycles to minimize the bleeding during menstruation.
- Chew 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds whenever your pain arrives
- Do this for 4-5 days or till your menstrual time is over
Peppermint, one of the well-known ingredients for reducing period cramps pain, is a natural appetite suppressant and natural muscle relaxer.
- Add 1 teaspoon of peppermint powder or dried peppermint leaves into a cup of boiling water
- Let it simmer for 3-5 minutes
- After straining, add sugar if you want
- Have this tea 1-2 times per day
Note: To get additional relief, you can chew on peppermint candies.
Papaya is a potent anti-inflammatory agent which is beneficial in treating period pain. Besides, it possesses nutrients such as iron, carotene, vitamins A and C, calcium that may soothe uterine walls and relieve muscle contractions. Thus, before and during your menstruation time, you can add papaya to your diet to eradicate the pain.
22. Lemon Juice
Lemon has anti-inflammatory properties, which may provide relief from menstrual cramps. Furthermore, thanks to the high content of vitamin C, lemon may help your body absorb iron more efficiently. Women lose iron through blood loss during menstruation, so it is crucial to get more iron from foods and supplements. Iron is also good for your reproductive organs.
- Squeeze half of a lemon into a glass of warm water
- Mix them well and add honey if you want
- Drink on an empty stomach every morning
Eat a bowl of plain yogurt 3-4 times per day when you are in your menstruation time.
24. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is also called magnesium sulfate which has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. If Epsom salt is absorbed through the skin, it may relieve pain and period cramps; thereby, taking a bath with Epsom salt daily will help to de-stress and reduce the density of period cramps.
25. Pickle Juice
Pickle juice has a high sodium content, so it is one of the surprising but little-known tips. Pickle juice not only rehydrates your body but also relieves muscle cramps after exercising rapidly, therefore it is useful for cramps and pain associated with menstruation.
Note: Do not take pickle juice on an empty stomach.
26. Aloe Vera
Have you ever thought that aloe vera can also relieve your menstrual cramps? The fact is, its anti-inflammatory and healing properties make it a potent ingredient for reducing cramps and pains during the period. By improving blood flow, aloe vera may decrease the cramp intensity.
Drink ¼ cup of aloe vera juice several days before and during your menstruation to reap its benefits.
27. Green Tea
Green tea has flavonoids named catechins which have medicinal properties. This plant is a natural antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, helping relieve inflammation and pain accompanied with menstrual cramps.
- Add green tea leaves to a cup of water
- Boil it up and let it simmer for 3-5 minutes
- After straining, let it cool down and add honey if you want
- Have it 3-4 times per day
This sounds crazy when you have cramps and pain due to menstruation, but it does work. Exercise could help in lessening the pain and uplift your mood when you go through the menstrual period. Recommended directions include doing aerobic exercises about 30 minutes per day during your menstrual period. Also, avoid engaging in too strenuous activities because they might worsen yours symptoms.
29. Sleep And Rest Well
Nothing will be more nourishing to your general health than rest and sound sleep. This is even more important when you are in your menstruation and experiencing cramps.
A study has shown that insomnia, irregular sleep, and hectic lifestyle may make you fatigued and exaggerate your period cramps. By sleeping and having proper rest, you may calm your nervous system and lower the symptoms of menstrual disorders.
Stress and anxiety increase your cortisol levels, thereby suppressing thyroid function, imbalancing blood sugar levels, and compromising your immune system. That is why you should take control of your stress to avoid exaggerating your cramps during periods.
- Stop smoking because smoking is thought to enhance your potential risk of menstrual pain.
- Try relaxation techniques like pilates or yoga to distract you from feelings of discomfort and pain.
- Engage yourself in an enjoyable activity like listening to music, reading a book, etc.
- Take a soothing bath or shower by mixing a cup each of baking soda and sea salt in your bathing water. Then, soak in this solution for 15 minutes to relax your muscles and relieve cramps.
- Keep in mind that women staying warm will go through less menstrual cramps. Use lukewarm water while having a shower during these days.
- Take vitamin D regularly to cure period cramps.
- Maintain good hygiene particular during the days of your menstruation.
- Avoid taking painkillers.
- If your cramps still get severe and you have to suffer from other health problems, it is recommended to consult your doctor.
There you have discovered some of the best natural home remedies for period cramps and pain in women. Before using these home remedies, always make sure that you buy herbs and supplements from a reputable and prestigious source. While most of these methods have several side effects, you had better consult your doctor before using them. Some herbs might cause unintended secondary consequences, mainly if you are under medication. For severe cases, the best method is to see a doctor and get him/her diagnose the cause of your menstrual cramps.
Have you ever tried these natural treatment? Which ones do you choose? Do you have any other solutions to deal with menstrual pain? Feel free to share your experience with us by dropping words below this post.
For further tips and tricks for health and beauty issues, visit our Home Remedies page.