Why do menstrual pains occur?
During menstruation, it is common to experience discomfort around the abdomen, back, and thighs.
During menstruation, the abdominal muscles contract and relax, helping to shed the lining. Sometimes you’ll feel cramping, which means your muscles are working. Some people may also experience:
Doctors don’t know why some menstruating women experience pain while others don’t. Some factors associated with more severe pain include:
with heavy menstrual flow
give birth to your first child
Under the age of 20 or just started menstruating
Your uterus is affected when your body overproduces or is oversensitive to a type of prostaglandin.
Other factors include:
growth in your uterus
endometriosis (abnormal growth of uterine tissue)
use of contraceptives
Some home remedies can help with mild or temporary cramps. Read on for quick relief tips and learn how to reduce pain during your next cycle.
- Taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the primary form of over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief recommended for menstrual pain and heavy menstrual bleeding. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve).
These drugs help reduce the production of prostaglandins in your body. NSAIDs are not as effective as oral contraceptives in reducing prostaglandins, but they can help relieve pain.
- Application of heat
Applying heat to the abdomen and back can help relieve pain. A 2018 study found that heat therapy (usually a heat pad or pack) is just as effective as NSAIDs in treating period pain. It may also have fewer side effects. However, the authors note that more research is needed.
If you don’t have a hot tub or heating pad, take a hot bath or use a hot towel. Or you can make a heating pad yourself:
Cut two pieces of fabric and sew them together, leaving a hole at the top.
Fill with uncooked rice and sew up the opening.
Place in the microwave for a few minutes at the desired temperature. Do not overheat!
Cool if necessary. Alternatively, wrap your homemade mat in a towel to reduce heat transfer. Reuse as needed.
Learn more about the best heating pads here. You can also buy heating pads online.
- Massage with essential oils
Massage for about 20 minutes will help.
Menstrual massage involves pressing certain points while the practitioner’s hands move around the abdomen, sides, and back.
Adding essential oils to an aromatic massage can have additional benefits.
A 2018 study found that massage and aromatherapy can reduce menstrual pain. Some essential oils that can help are:
You can buy scented massage oils with similar ingredients or make your own.
You should always dilute your essential oils with a carrier oil. Examples include vegetable and nut oils such as grapeseed and sweet almond oils. A safe concentration is one drop of essential oil per tablespoon of oil.
Although there are no clinical studies on the direct effect of ejaculation on menstrual cramps, science suggests that it may help.
Vaginal orgasms affect your entire body, including the spinal cord that releases neurotransmitters. Vaginal stimulation causes your brain to release neurotransmitters like endorphins and oxytocin. Endorphins reduce pain.
Dr. Barry Komisaruk, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University who studies female libido, told the BBC in 2015, “Vaginal libido is internal and involves the whole body; “This is probably because the vagus nerve is different from the nerves that carry the clitoral nerve.”
In a 1985 Trusted Source study with Dr. Beverly Whipple, Komisaruk found that vaginal self-stimulation doubled women’s pain tolerance.