Period cramps are the worst. They can show up in so many places – on your stomach, on your lips, on your back, on your chest, on your chest (to be honest!) – and be slow to go away. I do not know about you, but it is difficult for me to enjoy even the most fun moments when cramps occur.
About 80 percent of women (plus trans men and non-transgender people) experience period pain at some point. There are many options for pain relief, thank God, from ibuprofen to heat pads and more. But what does it mean to start an OB-GYN?
“The number one must have for menstrual cramps is an over-the-counter painkiller,” says Kenosha Gleaton, MD, OB-GYN and Natalist Medical Advisor. “My goal is to take it before the actual start of my cycle and continue to take it every six hours until 24 hours after the start of my cycle.”
Taking preventative medication – about a day before the onset of pain – can help stop the cramps before they occur. Dr. Gleaton explains when the uterine line begins to fall, prostaglandins (known and known fat compounds with hormone-like effects) are released, which causes inflammation and narrowing of blood vessels. “If anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, are taken before the lining of the uterus begins to be discarded, they neutralize the prostaglandins and help prevent the onset of cataract pain,” he says.
Although there is not much research to say which analgesic is more effective, NSAIDs (such as Advil, Motrin and Aleve) may work better than acetaminophen (also known as Tylenol). Therefore, it is probably best to go with what you have in the closet that suits you. And, of course, contact your provider before taking any medication regularly.
It is also okay to do different things for relief, especially since menstruation can have several side effects. For Dr. Gleaton, exercise is something that deals with multiple symptoms of PMS. “I have also found that exercise – any cardio with a high heart rate – seems to reduce bloating and mobilize extra fluid from my waist,” he says. “In addition, the release of serotonin and endorphins reduce the mood associated with PMS and give an immediate boost of energy to fight fatigue.”
Both medication and exercise work fairly quickly, he says. “When taken on time, an over-the-counter painkiller works within five to 10 minutes. “Exercise also provides fairly immediate relief when the heart rate is high enough.”
When it comes to exercise, if you do not have it in you, go very hard. Light walking, yoga, pilates and low-intensity strength training are also solid choices that will do the trick. Research supports this: In 2019, some review authors reviewed studies that measured the usefulness of cramping exercise and found that both low-intensity and high-intensity exercise were effective.
If you feel yoga, follow the period-friendly stretching postures, such as cat-cow posture, head-to-knee posture, child posture, and supine twist. As long as they hold you upright, they will not add pressure or interfere with your flow.
While cramps in your period can make you feel almost certain as taxes, painkillers and exercise (plus some chocolate and your bed) can help. If the pain is severe or accompanied by excessive bleeding or fever, however, it is best to see your doctor.
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