Menstrual Management

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I don’t know a single woman who has ever claimed to enjoy the cramping part of the menstrual process. While it’s not something that happens to everyone, it is a common enough symptom that it’s one of the first things people think of when they think of menstruation. Just because it’s common doesn’t mean it has to be something you need to suffer with, however. Over the counter medications work for many women, but not for all. Some prefer not to take them, or find that they feel more comfortable trying other methods before resorting to medications.

Regardless of the reason, if you are interested in managing the pain and cramping associated with menstruation without taking medication, the following list may be helpful for you:

  1. Some Like it Hot: Heat has long been known to be effective for soothing muscle pain. Believe it or not, the aching of menstrual cramps is caused by the muscles of your uterus working over time. It’s like your body doing lower-abdominal workouts for a week without your permission. Treating the pain in much the same way you would treat any other muscle ache works well for many women. Try soaking in a hot bath with Epsom salts. Hot compresses have also been known to work and are especially effective when you combine the heat with pressure.
  2. Work it Out: We know it’s pretty much the last thing you want to do, but believe it or not working out has been shown to ease menstrual cramping. Aerobic exercise released endorphins into your system, helping to mask and alleviate your pain. This works best if your workout is long enough and hard enough to make you break a sweat. As an added bonus, women who are in better shape physically tend to be less likely to suffer from menstrual cramping – especially severe menstrual cramping.
  3. Work it Out Again – But Not the Same Way: Yoga poses that target the lower abdomen, pelvis and lower back can be incredibly helpful in combatting cramps. Be honest, half of you are practically doing yoga trying to get comfortable anyway. By targeting those poses to stretch and flex the sore areas you can make yourself more comfortable. In fact, many yoga instructors have knowledge of poses and techniques that can be specifically targeted to relieve this type of pain.
  4. Cut the Caffeine: I know quite a few of you are dependent on coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks or even caffeine pills to make it through your day. Unfortunately, caffeine is a vasoconstrictor – which means it shrinks and tightens your blood vessels. That can lead to headaches and increased muscle cramping. Women who are prone to severe cramps are probably better served by avoiding caffeine. Don’t forget, caffeine is found not only in coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks, but also in chocolate.

Not every one of these methods will work for every woman in every situation. I recommend that you just add these ideas to your bag of tricks. Try them out for your next cycle and see what happens.

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