Many people report having abdominal or pelvic pain at the beginning of their menstrual cycle. In some cases, remedies can help a person get relief.
During a period, the uterus contracts to squeeze the lining away from the uterine wall and allow it to exit the body through the vagina. These contractions can cause pain or discomfort. Many people refer to them as cramps.
During menstruation, most people experience cramps in the lower abdomen, although the pain can also radiate to the lower back, groin, or upper thighs. Menstrual cramps tend to be worst at the beginning of a period and become less uncomfortable as the days go on.
Many home remedies can help relieve menstrual cramps, including the following:
Placing a hot water bottle or heating pad against the abdomen can relax the muscles and relieve cramps.
Heat helps the uterine muscle and those around it relax, which may ease cramping and discomfort.
A person can also place a heating pad on the lower back to get rid of back pain. Another option is to soak in a warm bath, which can help relax the muscles in the abdomen, back, and legs.
Although exercise might be the last thing many people feel like doing when they have cramps, it may provide pain relief.
Strenuous exercise might not be beneficial if a person is in pain, but gentle stretching, going for a walk, or doing yoga may help. Exercise also releases endorphins, which are nature’s natural pain relievers.
An orgasm may help alleviate menstrual cramps. During orgasm, the uterus contracts but then releases. This may help lessen the impact of menstrual contractions.
Like exercise, having an orgasm also releases endorphins and other hormones that relieve pain, helping a person feel good.
A person is more likely to benefit from an ongoing course of acupuncture than a single session.
Getting a massage or performing self-massage over the abdomen can also relax the pelvic muscles and alleviate cramping. People can gently rub a massage oil, body lotion, or coconut oil into their skin to help this process.
Massaging the abdomen with essential oils may provide additional benefits for those experiencing menstrual cramps.
According to a 2015 review, the following oils may help a person manage cramp symptoms:
People can try adding a few drops of at least one of these essential oils to a carrier oil for an effective abdominal self-massage.
Making some changes to the diet may reduce menstrual cramping.
Eating a balanced diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean proteins, and whole grains helps the body stay healthy.
Increasing the intake of fluids will help the body stay hydrated. Dehydration is a common cause of muscle cramps.
Herbal teas are warm and soothing, and in some cases, the herbs themselves can be beneficial as well.
Some manufacturers suggest that specific teas, such as chamomile, dandelion, red raspberry, and fennel teas, provide relief from menstrual cramps. However, there is little evidence to support this.
Hormonal changes that affect a person’s digestive tract can cause menstrual cramps. Short-term dietary changes can often alleviate these symptoms.
Prioritizing a diet rich in fiber and low in oils and refined sugars can help improve digestion and lessen abdominal discomfort.
If natural home remedies do not relieve pain, a person can try using an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
These medications can relieve inflammation, pain, and menstrual cramps. It is essential to follow the dosage directions on the bottle and speak with a doctor if the recommended dose is insufficient to relieve menstrual cramps.
During menstruation, the muscular walls of the womb contract and relax to help the womb shed its internal lining. This results in discomfort that can range from mild to severe in some people.
These pains typically last 48–72 hours and may become milder as a person grows older.
A person may wish to speak with a doctor if home remedies do not help reduce cramps or if they are experiencing very severe cramping.
A doctor can suggest other home remedies to try or prescribe medications, such as birth control pills or some types of pain reliever, to manage the symptoms.
Other symptoms that may warrant contacting a doctor include:
- very heavy bleeding
- cramps that get worse over time or with age
- severe pain or discomfort
- cramps that interfere with daily life
These symptoms may indicate an underlying condition, for which a doctor will be able to suggest an effective treatment.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about home remedies for menstrual cramps.
What is the best tea for menstrual cramps?
Can juices help with period cramps?
Eating more fruits and vegetables
What can make period cramps worse?
Menstrual cramps are a common symptom before and during a period. In most cases, cramps are normal, but some situations may indicate something more serious.
If these home remedies are not successful in relieving menstrual cramps, it is important to speak with a doctor.