Menstrual Cramps – they are common, but are they normal?

Updated: Mar 30

By Dr. Shreya Batra, ND

Menstrual cramps are a common concern for many women each month, and for some it can be so debilitating that they need to take a day or two off work or school. Although they are considered to be common for many women, they aren’t normal. There are a variety of things that may be contributing to your menstrual pain, and it is important to address the root cause. 

Extreme pain may be due to an underlying condition such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids…etc. After a thorough intake of personal and family history, lab work and imaging (if needed), if underlying diseases such as the ones listed above are ruled out, then it is important to work on other aspects of your life to help reduce the pain.

We start by working on lifestyle and diet to reduce inflammation and balance hormones, and may include supplementation where necessary.

Lifestyle

  1. Exercise – studies show that being regular with exercise throughout the month helps reduce menstrual pain. Although you may want to curl up in a ball when the cramps hit, it might be a good idea to get some movement!

  2. Alcohol – excessive consumption of alcohol, especially in the two weeks before your period, might be a contributing factor to your pain. Limit alcohol intake and drink in moderation.

  3. Smoking – if you smoke, you have increased chances of having painful menstruation.

  4. Weight reduction – if you are overweight, you have a greater chance of having estrogen imbalance, and hence, more pain. Even a slight decrease in weight may reduce your pain. 

Diet

  1. Decrease foods that cause inflammation in the body: red meats, saturated fats, sugars…etc. 

  2. Increase green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats (such as fish, avocado, olive oil…etc) 

  3. Increase intake of fiber (ex/ flax seeds) to regulate bowel movements and allow for hormone balancing

  4. Include vegetables that will promote optimal liver functioning to balance hormones – broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts..etc

  5. Studies show that a gluten free or dairy free or even a vegetarian diet may help reduce inflammation and reduce pain significantly. 

Supplements

There are many different supplements and herbs which may help with your menstrual pain. Requirements and dosage vary for everyone, so make sure to talk to a Naturopathic Doctor before taking anything. 

Some examples include: Magnesium, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, Fish oil, Calcium, Ginger, Crampbark…etc. 

Others:

Other things to consider include: acupuncture, osteopathic care, or physical therapy.

What’s Next?

If you experience menstrual pain and are looking for options to help manage it, try the tips mentioned above for lifestyle and diet, and book an appointment so we can put together a treatment plan suitable for you.

References:

  1. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2014/0301/p341.pdf

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11687013

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23334113

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31665789

  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4517870/

  6. https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/495408#ref21

Disclaimer

Please note that content on this website is intended for informational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, not is it meant to diagnose or treat a health problem, symptom or disease. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read on this website. Information provided on this website DOES NOT create a doctor-patient relationship between you and any doctor affiliated with our website.

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