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What Can I Do to Relieve Menstrual Cramps and PMS?     

Your period gives some signals to you before it starts. If you have mild symptoms, you are lucky, but if it limits your daily routine, you might have PMS, also known as Premenstrual Syndrome. These limiting factors can be physical, emotional or behavioral, and occur 1 or 2 weeks before your period. The most frequent symptom of PMS is menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Many women have these cramps at different levels of severity before and even during their menstrual periods. It might affect their quality of life and make it difficult to maintain the same daily routine during the menstrual cycle. These cramps are generally felt in the lower abdomen and may affect the lower back and inner thighs. First, let’s understand PMS and menstrual cramps, their root causes and see the methods that we can use to relieve cramps and other PMS symptoms.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual Syndrome comes after ovulation and before the menstrual period starts. Rapid estrogen and progesterone hormone level reduction causes these physical and emotional symptoms, while the increase of these hormones removes them. The symptoms may range from mild (with almost no sign of them) to severe (limiting or even restricting everyday activities). PMS is generally seen more frequently in women who have high-stress levels, and those who are genetically prone to depression or have a history of depression. The severity of symptoms also varies according to age. As women approach menopause, hormone levels change drastically, which worsens the cramps and other symptoms. That’s why PMS is generally seen in your 30s and 40s.

Symptoms of PMS

75% of menstruating women go through Premenstrual Syndrome, which can show itself with various symptoms. These symptoms can be separated into two categories, emotional and physical:

Physical Symptomps of PMS

Physical

  • Cramps
  • Headache or backache
  • Lower tolerance
  • Swollen or tender breasts
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Weight gain
  • Acne

Emotional Symptomps of PMS

Emotional

  • Mood swings
  • Tiredness
  • Change in sleeping schedule
  • Food cravings
  • Tension or anxiety
  • Feeling sad and crying

Relieving PMS Symptoms

Relieving PMS Symptoms

Exercise: Having physical activity in your life reduces emotional symptoms.

Eat healthily: Try to avoid salt, sugar, and caffeine two weeks before your period and eat calcium-rich foods.

Sleep well: 8 hours of sleep helps to sustain your health and help with the emotional symptoms of PMS.

Try to reduce your stress level: Find ways to reduce your stress, such as yoga, meditation, and talking to friends and family.

Quit Smoking: If you are smoking, you are worsening your PMS symptoms.

Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual Cramps

Cramps are the most frequent symptom of PMS and can limit daily activities. They cause trouble for women dealing with heavy lower abdomen cramping pains while they are busy with other things. The cause of these cramps are uterus contractions and triggered by prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances. Prostaglandins also cause nausea, vomiting, headache and diarrhea during menstruation. There are some methods you can try to lower the severity of the cramps to a level where you can continue to your daily routine. Here are some tips to relieve cramps during PMS and during your period:

Instant Ways to Relieve Cramps

Instant Ways to Relieve Cramps

1.Heating pad: Place it on your lower abdomen, the heat will relax uterus muscles and relieve cramps.

2. Hot bath: A hot bath will relax your abdomen and back.

3. Chamomile Tea: Chamomile tea has anti-inflammatory functions, which will inhibit prostaglandins.

4. Massage: You can relieve cramps by massaging the area with essential oils.

Make these changes in your daily life to relieve cramps in long run

Make these changes in your daily life to relieve cramps in long run:

Exercise: Studies showed that exercising 3 times a week reduced cramps during PMS.

Drink water: Increase your water intake to reduce bloating and cramps. You can add lemon or mint to your water. Increasing fluid intake is a good solution to relieve cramps both during your period and off your period. So add tea, mineral water or juices to your daily fluid consumption.

Reduce salt intake: As we all know, salt causes dehydration and bloating.

Reduce your alcohol consumption: Alcohol is another factor that causes dehydration and bloating. 

Lower your stress: Yoga, meditation and focusing on positive things can help to lower your stress level.

Have a balanced diet: Consume anti-inflammatory foods (like cherries, tomatoes, blueberries, squash and bell peppers) and calcium-rich foods (like beans, almonds, and dark leafy greens). Try to avoid or lower your consumption of refined foods and trans-fatty acids, which increase inflammation. 

Sleep well: According to some studies, a healthy sleeping schedule reduces cramps and PMS, while women with insomnia have severe symptoms.

Vitamin D: Prostaglandin levels can be lowered by vitamin D. Try to get enough sunlight or consult your doctor for vitamin D supplements.

See Your Gynaecologist

Don’t forget to visit your gynecologist at least once a year for a routine check and consult your doctor about your cramps. Bear in mind that severe PMS and menstrual cramps may also be caused by a medical condition. You might have vitamin E, vitamin B1, omega 3, calcium, vitamin B6 or magnesium deficiency that may be the reason for your menstrual cramps or there might be an underlying disease that should be treated.

 

Related:10 Self-Care Strategies to Help Manage Your Depression

 

 

Yoga and Menstruation: Poses to Avoid and Poses that Help

Practicing yoga while on your period is still a controversial issue in the yoga world. Many practitioners believe that practicing yoga should be minimized. The poses practiced should be selected carefully during this time. Others feel that it is time to just rest. Menstruation is, of course, not a reason to avoid practicing yoga. But many women prefer to rest during those days of the month and spend time looking within. Each woman should decide which practice is appropriate for her body. It is important to listen to your body during this time. Each woman looks at menstruation and the need for her body and soul differently.

 

On the other hand, practicing yoga can have a positive effect on hormonal, mental, and physical health during this time. Despite the fact that there are some asanas that should be avoided during the menstruation period. There are also many beneficial asanas that help reduce its unwelcome effects.

Doing Yoga in Nature

Benefits of Yoga during Menstruation

The menstrual cycle of a woman can vary depending on the weather conditions, her diet, her stress level, and other factors. Women can become more sensitive, increasing their level of awareness…

Mood swings due to hormonal changes may be an unfortunate side effect. Practicing yoga can help to minimize these hormonal imbalances. Meditation and breathing or yoga nidra are good choices for those who prefer to rest during this time. The yin poses of yoga, which can be described as gentle poses, can be practiced longer. This type of practice helps women to become more grounded and tap into their inner strength.

Practicing yoga may also improve the quality of sleep by prolonging a deep sleep state, which helps women allocate some time for themselves.  Yoga nidra, or yogic sleep, may also be practiced by women who prefer to take things easy during her period.

It is believed in yoga that energy flows to a chosen point by focusing the attention on a specific area of the body (dharana).  Sending deep breaths to a cramping area may relieve specific pains. Using this concentrated breathing during practicing yoga poses could also minimize the cramps in the abdominal area.

Yoga Poses to Practice during Menstruation

If you decide to practice yoga while menstruating, you should be sure to listen carefully to your body’s cues. The following poses can help you reduce the side effects of menstruation.

1) Forward Fold Poses

Practicing gentle forward bend asanas ensures that the blood flows towards the uterus by gently increasing intra-abdominal pressure. This creates a massage effect on the abdominal and pelvic areas and eliminates cramping and heavy bleeding. Combining the poses with concentrated breathing can help to calm the mind.

Forward Fold Poses

The following three forward fold poses can be practiced during menstruation with the support of cushions or a bolster. Be sure to fold forward gently while doing yoga during your period and do not force yourself…

Here are some basic forward fold poses that you can try:

  • Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Forward Bend Pose)
  • Seated Forward Bend (Place a bolster on your quadriceps.)
  • Head-to-Knee Forward Bend (Place a bolster on your leg.)

2) Gentle Twisting Poses

Gentle twisting asanas with an accurate exhalation can help your lower back pain, cramping, and congestion. It is important to take a deep breath before getting into position and twist when you exhale. However, some of the specific twistings pose in yoga can be overstimulating for your pelvic and abdominal areas so it is recommended that they are practiced with caution during menstruation…

Gentle Twisting Poses

Practicing the following twisting yoga poses gently can massage the pelvic area and minimize lower back pain. Remember to use blankets or a bolster under your knees, and don’t forget to breathe.

  • Parivrtta Sukhasana (Easy Twist Pose)
  • Supta Matsyendrasana (Reclining Spine Twist)

3)  Gentle Backbend Poses

Supported gentle backbends could also be very efficient in reducing menstrual pain and pelvic discomfort. Backbend poses to open the front of the body and allow the breath to reach the pelvic area more comfortably. Strong backbends should not be practiced as they may cause undue pressure to the pelvic ligaments.

Yoga and Menstruation: Poses that Help

The following backbends not only help to relieve menstrual cramps but also are good for pains in the shoulders and back…

  • Supported Supta Vajrasana (Supported Reclined Thunderbolt Pose – Place a bolster or pillow under your back.)
  • Cobra Pose
  • Supported Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose – Place a yoga block under the sacrum.)

Yoga Poses to Avoid during Menstruation 

Some yoga poses are described as ‘contraindicated,’ which means that they are inadvisable for the practitioners. The more known yoga schools forbid some of the yoga poses during menstruation and encourage women to take a break during that time of the month.

Backbends and Inversions

Although some poses help to reduce the side effects of the menstrual flow. Poses like inversions should not be practiced as they may affect the expulsion of the menstrual blood.

It is believed that gravity helps the downward flow during menstruation and practicing inversions causes the direction of the blood flow to change due to gravity. But researchers have proved that gravity has no effect on this downward flow by observing the menstruation of women astronauts in the zero-gravity of space.

In the yoga world, the reason why inversions are inadvisable during a woman’s period is that the energy flows downward in the body at this time. This energy, called apana-vayu, naturally helps to move the urine and blood safely out of our bodies. Therefore, practicing inversions may negatively affect this energy flow.

Yoga and Menstruation: Poses to Avoid

Furthermore, you should not be practice deep backbends because they may create undue pressure and stress on the pelvic area. You should also avoid deep twisting for the same reason. Practicing these types of deep poses may cause an increase in contractions if there is still pain and spasms in the pelvic area.

Here are some yoga poses you should avoid while menstruating:

  • Adho Mukha Vrksasana – Handstand
  • Salamba Sirsasana – Headstand
  • Salamba Sarvangasana – Shoulder Stand
  • Urdhva Dhanurasana – Full Wheel Pose
  • Navasana – Boat pose

There are many asanas to choose from when practicing yoga during your period and some to avoid. But you should choose for yourself the ones that are most comfortable for you during this time. You know your body best., Remember these useful tips to help you listen to your body and follow your feelings while practicing yoga.

 

Namaste.

 

Related: What You Should Eat While on Your Period

 

 

What You Should Eat While on Your Period

The menstrual cycle can be hard. Do you get extremely irritated by things that usually would not bother you? Your hormones are to blame! Our hormones definitely impact our bodies in many different ways. Between the bloating, the cramping, the cravings, and the mood swings, that time of the month is usually not the best week in any woman’s life. Still, you don’t have to let these problems control your life.

Lifestyle adjustments can help you reduce or manage the signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. To get through your menstrual cycle with much less stress, scroll through to find out the best foods to focus on while you are on your period. As a registered dietitian, I will give you some tricks about which foods to eat and avoid during your period.

What You Should Eat While on Your Period

Here are a few tips to modify your diet:

 1. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Women tend to crave junk food before and during their period due to the fluctuation in hormones. Most women are well aware that processed sweets are not great, but anyone who has experienced a sugar craving before their period will tell you it is tough to make smarter choices.

There are options that give us the opportunity to fight sugar cravings. For instance, dark chocolate is a great treat while on your period.

  • Try creating a combination of dark chocolate and almonds!

Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and magnesium, which reduces mood swings by regulating serotonin.  Make sure you find the highest percent dark chocolate in the store. The higher the better, because it won’t contain as much sugar.

Almonds are a great source of vitamin E, which can also relieve period cramps. As you know, processed snacks are pumped full of added sugars.

Swapping sugar for natural alternatives like dates or prunes would be a great idea for fighting sugar cravings. They are definitely something to consider if you’re looking to swap out anything processed.

  • It is time to get creative, try to add dates or prunes to your diet by creating new recipes at home.

  2. Focus on Drinking Plenty of Water

Sugary, carbonated drinks like soda contribute to bloating. Avoid sparkling water too. Just like soda, the carbonation will increase bloating.

Drink plenty of water while you are on your period

Caffeine is also one of the main foods to avoid during your period. When you have caffeine, it increases your bloating discomfort and irritates your uterus, which worsens your cramps. Stick to water instead! Upping your water intake will actually ease bloating.

Make sure you keep track of your water consumption throughout the day by using Vivoo Home Urine Test Sticks

Related: The Ultimate Guide to How Much Water You Need to Drink

3. Load Up Calcium

Yogurt is one of the best foods to eat on your period, as it is a good source of calcium. Consuming calcium reduces feelings of depression and anxiety, which can prevent mood swings. You can increase calcium intake by adding yogurt to your diet.

What You Should Eat While on Your Period

  • Try yogurt parfaits, they are actually a very healthy option for breakfast and snacks. If you are looking for a non-dairy source of calcium, try broccoli or kale instead. Any food that contains calcium can be considered a helpful food for your menstrual cycle.

   4. Get Magnesium Boost 

Research shows that magnesium helps relieve PMS symptoms such as headaches and cramps. Whole grains are an excellent source of magnesium, which helps to reduce muscle tension as well as mood swings. Also, bananas and peanuts are one of the best mood-boosting foods, which are rich in potassium and magnesium.

get magnesium boost with banana while you are on your period

  • Try starting your day with a bowl of whole-wheat breakfast cereals or muesli, then have a light snack with a banana and a handful of peanuts. It’s that easy to increase our magnesium levels, and start feeling better fast!

 5. Maximize Your Dietary Iron Intake

Women’s nutritional needs change during menstruation. Women need more iron than men to make up for the amount of iron they lose in their menstrual period. Around 1 mg of iron is lost for every day of bleeding. The best source of iron is red meat. There are smaller amounts of chicken and fish too.

Iron intake importance while you are on your period

  • If you don’t consume meat, be sure to choose leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens to replenish your body’s iron supply.

Please share your feedback below about your experience and your choice of food during your period.

Take Vivoo of yourself!

 

Related: What Can I Do to Relieve Cramps and PMS?