Just the other day a woman on her periods came to me and asked, “Why is my period painful?”. I was amazed to hear that she finished files after files of painkiller tablets due to Menstrual Cramps. This, as an ayurvedic practitioner, was unacceptable to me. I wanted to reduce her pain if not solve her problem once and for all. So I looked around here and there, consulted elder practitioners and found out the reason.
During Menstrual sessions, the uterus contracts to pass the dirty blood outside the body. The contraction needs internal force, and when the force applied by the inner muscles, there are chances of muscle spasms and cramps. In this process, the internal tissues might also swell, causing immense pain on the body, sometimes leading to emergencies. However, Ayurveda has a list of precautionary practices that can be done to reduce the pain one feels during menstruation sessions.
Most women are quite used to with Menstrual Cramps since the time they get their first period. Menstrual Cramps also are known as dysmenorrhea is the intense type of cramping and throbbing pain in the lower abdomen which happens mostly before or during the menstruation period. Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for those painful cramps which cause a lot of discomfort for most women. For many women, the pain can be so intense that it hampers their regular involvement in daily activities. Menstrual Cramps can be too much troublesome for those women, and it affects their overall schedule for some days in every month.
Types of Menstrual Cramps
Dysmenorrhea is commonly classified into two types. They are primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea.
Primary dysmenorrhea is the most common type of menstrual cramps. Mostly, the cramps begin around one or two years after a woman gets her first period. The area where the pain occurs is usually the lower abdomen or the back. The severity of the pain may be different depending on the woman. It can be a mild type of pain or even severe. In most cases, menstrual cramps start immediately before or a start of the period, and it can continue for one to three days. Common Menstrual cramps become less painful when the woman gets older, and it may also stop totally after giving birth to the first child.
Secondary dysmenorrhea is slightly different from the common menstrual cramps because it is a pain caused by some problem in the reproductive organs of the woman. This type of cramp mostly begins quite early in the menstruation cycle, and it lasts for more days compared to primary dysmenorrhea.
Causes of Common Menstrual Cramps
The uterus is a hollow organ with a pear shape where the baby grows. There is a contraction of the muscles in the uterus throughout the menstrual cycle of women. The Menstrual Cramps happen because of the same contractions which occur in the womb. The contraction of the muscles can be too strong at times because of which it will press the blood vessels near it. As a result of that process, the oxygen supply to the muscle tissues in the uterus will be cut off. When a part of the muscle tissue in the uterus doesn’t get an amount of oxygen, then the intense form of pain occurs which we know as Common Menstrual Cramps.
What Is Secondary Dysmenorrhea And How Is It Caused?
Secondary dysmenorrhea occurs when a woman has some disease or problems in her reproductive organs. In such conditions, cramping can be a commonly occurring problem which is known as secondary dysmenorrhea. There are various conditions which can be behind secondary dysmenorrhea.
- Endometriosis can also cause secondary dysmenorrhea. It is a condition in which tissue lining the uterus happens to be found outside it.
- Bacteria can cause infection in the uterus, and it can also spread to other reproductive organs in the body. This condition is called Pelvic inflammatory disease which can also be responsible for secondary dysmenorrhea.
- The cervix is the lower part of the uterus. Scarring may cause narrowing of the cervix, and this condition is called Stenosis which can cause secondary dysmenorrhea.
- Tumors which are also known as fibroids can grow on the inner wall of the uterus causing secondary dysmenorrhea.
If the menstrual cramps are too unusual, severe and the pain continues for more than two to three days, then it may be necessary to visit a doctor. Menstrual cramps, either they are primary or secondary, needs to be treated and it is possible to reduce the symptoms. In the case of secondary dysmenorrhea, treatment should be done for the underlying condition as soon as possible.
How Is The Diagnosis Made?
When you consult a doctor to brief about your health condition, you will be asked questions regarding the symptoms and your menstruation cycle. A pelvic exam may also be conducted in which a speculum is inserted into the vagina and cervix to see in it. The doctor may also recommend a test of the vaginal fluid. It may also be necessary for the doctor to insert his fingers into the vagina and check the uterus to find out if there are any abnormal conditions.
If common menstrual cramps cause the condition then it is treated by normal methods. But if that is not the case, then there could be another medical problem. In such a situation, further discussion and treatment may be necessary.
Yes, it is very convenient and easy to pop a painkilling pill, but you cannot depend upon constant medication your entire menstruating life can you? Here are a few causes and remedies for Menstrual cramps and pain without popping file after file of pain killers.
Understanding the causes of the problem is half of the solution already. Once you know why it happens, your mind gets the capability to work around it.
Causes and Remedies for Menstrual Cramps
Menstruation is a normal phenomenon and happens to every fertile woman. However, in some women, it occurs very smoothly while in others it creates a lot of internal physical drams. The first and foremost reason is diet. If you have an improper diet, your inner muscles become weak, and they cannot take the strain of muscle contraction during periods. Therefore one needs to maintain a timely diet.
Women like to live a lavish lifestyle these days, but that costs them their health. If there isn’t enough exercise to go by, then the muscles become rusty and unused, and when that menstruation contraction jerka happens, it feels unbearably painful. Therefore a regular practice of exercise is utterly essential for women to deal with menstrual cramps. And not just walking, proper breathing and stretching exercises are a must.
The air element or the Vata Dosha causes almost all the pain in the body. Women of Vata Prakriti(Vata Nature) tend to experience more pain in the body than others. Therefore you need to check your body continuously with awareness for any Vata dosha present or that might be forming.
These days we have shot proper postures with a bullet in the head. When I observe, 90 percent of the people that I see in my daily life are prone to bad posture may it be slouching or slacking or sitting without the spine being straight. The wrong posture is a cause not only for painful menstrual cramps but for a lot of other different diseases in the body.
Stress is our best friend these days. And women are more sensitive to stress. On the other days, they might somehow handle the stress, but during menstruation, the body is so drained that it is justified that it’s just not possible to handle pain.
Now that we have gone through a few causes of menstrual cramps, it might have given you some idea of what your problem might be, and you might have also thought of the solution. However, here are a few other prevention measures or solutions to this problem.
In such a time, what the body requires is enough lubrication. Therefore you need to stop consuming dry food items immediately, and by dry food, I don’t just mean almonds and cashews, even beverages like green tea and coffee can be dangerous for your menstruating body. In addition to that, you need to avoid almonds, biscuits, noodles, junk food, fast food, frozen food and all types of food that create Vata element (air element) in the body.
Foods to Have
Coconut oil, dairy items, and ghee are highly recommended in situations like these. Even Gulkand is highly appreciated for its lubricative properties. Regularly drinking milk rich in cow ghee is also a thing to do for a proper painless menstrual cycle.
The navel soaks up whatever is given to it and nourishes the body through it. So it is very beneficial to use castor oil in the navel and even your vaginal or anal openings.
One major thing to keep in mind is to avoid constipation during your menstrual cycle. Constipation is the cause of dryness in the body, and it creates further issues to your already painful lower abdomen. To avoid constipation, have a look at our article Constipation: Causes, Clinical Features, Prevention & Treatment.
One Yoga exercise that has been practiced well around the world and has been credit in decreasing menstrual pain is the Agnisaar Kriya.
Simple Stand erect with your heels together, hands on your waist. Then inhale deeply, hold it for two seconds and exhale all the air out of your system, and hold your breath. Keeping your chin up, bend forward at about a 45-degree angle and slowly pump your stomach in and out. Do this for about 10 minutes and then relax.
Yes, I am mentioning it again, but castor oil is a one-stop solution for menstrual cramps if you ask the patient that came to me. Two small spoons of castor oil with milk regularly will surely and certainly cure you of your constipation and eventually your menstrual cramps and pains.
Fiber Rich Food
Another way to solve your menstrual pain is to avoid juices and have raw fruits. Have soup and have crunchy soup with vegetables in them. This will make the body oily and lubricated and decrease your air element in the body and decrease menstrual cramps.
Proper Body Massage
Next is to have an adequate body massage and a little bit of exercise.
Body massage is necessary two or three times a day. 15 minutes a day. We do so much for everybody else that we forget about ourselves. Just like the gym, you should oil your body regularly.
If Monday is leg oiling day, then Tuesday is tummy oiling day. And be your regulator and your monitor for your exercises. Did I do proper training? Did I exercise all small and big organs of the body? Or, Did I massage my body well? Did I do proper breathing in the exercise? Did I do adequate stretching? Or, Did I sweat enough?
Walking with a smile also helps. Don’t be a couch potato and sit on your ass the entire day. Move around! Using the muscles in the body is essential. These small but essential tips if followed regularly will help you alright. There might be less pain next time and lesser the next time after that.
Finally, let’s move on to ayurvedic treatment.
Take two utensils, one with hot water in it and the other one with freezing cold water. You need to soak both towels. Take the cloth soaked in hot water first and place it below your navel for about 2 to 3 minutes. Then take the second rag soaked in cold water and put it below your navel. Repeat this for about 15 times. If you do this regularly, the muscles of the stomach become very strong.
These were some of nature’s way to reduce or avoid menstrual cramps during your periods. Tell us if we have missed any, and do let us know how well these tips and tricks worked for you.
Warning for Toxic Shock Syndrome
There is a condition called toxic shock syndrome which can be very dangerous to the life of a person if immediate treatment is not done. Please, get immediate medical attention if you use tampons and if you notice the following symptoms.
- If you get a fever over 102 F
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Dizziness and falling unconscious
- Rashes which look like sunburn on your body.