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girl with menstrual crampsMenstrual cycle-related pain is a fact of life for women and it’s no fun. It can mean a few days of discomfort or disabling pain that stops you cold every month. Understanding what causes this and evaluating your options for self-treatment can help you decide if you can manage your menstrual pain or if you need to talk to your doctor about it.

What Causes Menstrual Cramps?
Menstrual cramps are caused by the release of prostaglandin, a hormone-like substance that helps the uterus contract to shed its lining. Ovulation pain in the lower abdomen can also occur in the middle of your cycle when an egg is released.

Medical and Physical Pain Relief
NSAID pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen that are found in products like Advil, Motrin and Aleve can block the production of prostaglandin that causes menstrual cramps. If you’d rather not take a medicine for pain, studies have shown that using a heating pad can be as effective as an NSAID to relieve menstrual cramps.

Other Treatments for Menstrual Cramps
Some varieties of herbal tea have traditionally been used to reduce menstrual cramping and tea with peppermint oil may also help but check with your doctor first because some herbal remedies can cause side effects with other medications. Acupuncture, acupressure and massage with essential oils have also been used as treatments for menstrual pain.

Using Your Body’s Natural Defenses
Endorphins that are the body’s “feel good” hormone can alleviate pain and exercise is one way to release endorphins that can help reduce the pain of menstrual cramps. Using a hormonal contraceptive like the birth control pill has also been shown to reduce the occurrence of menstrual cramps.

How Diet Can Help Solve the Problem
There are other natural ways to help prevent menstrual cramps. Studies have shown that a low-fat diet with more vegetables can reduce inflammation in the body and that can ease menstrual cramping. Getting the right amount of magnesium in your diet through the foods you eat or with supplements has also been shown to help reduce the pain of menstrual cramps.

Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax