2020 has been a bad year for everyone – but there is at least one good thing that came out of this lockdown situation … We women got to stay home during periods !! Honestly, when those “monsters” start clawing my insides, all I want to do is stand under the shower and let the hot water run through my belly and back and ease out all the pain and discomfort! (Water conservation is the least of my worries at this point, I am sorry!)
Most of us are gearing up to resume our active lives outside the comfort of our home; or already have. As we move into an active 2021, let’s take a look at the commercially available pain relief options, that will help us to be at least 99.99% productive during “those days”.
What are cramps and why do they happen?
‘Dysmenorrhea’ is the medical term for menstrual cramps, or the pain that accompanies a period. It happens due to the uterus muscles contracting to expel the period blood. Cramps may be mild to severe and may last for a few hours to a couple of days.
How does a cramp feel like?
A dull, throbbing ache in the lower abdomen and pelvic area that lingers on for hours together. Sometimes it radiates to the lower back, tailbone and thighs too. It may be accompanied by sharp shooting pains, nausea & vomiting, dizziness, tiredness, headaches, bloating, and diarrhoea among other symptoms.
How does it bother us?
Although periods are manageable, cramps make a woman more self-aware and uncomfortable. It gets in the way of all our daily activities to an extent that we lose focus. A lot of women would agree with me when I say this – all you want to do is curl up on the bed with a hot-water bag and sleep it off! Alas, not all of us working women have that privilege …. let’s petition for introducing period leave in all offices!
What can we do to relieve cramps?
- Magnesium-rich food: Rejoice ladies! If you are craving for Dark chocolate, this is your best excuse. It is known to alleviate cramps. Hot ginger/chamomile tea also works well for easing pain.
- Hot bath Soak / hot shower: good for temporary relief for mild cramps. As the heat relaxes the uterus muscles and dilates the cervix, blood can flow freely thereby easing the pain.
- Hot water Bag: the safest, quick-relief option if you are at home. Good for mild to severe cramps. You could also use a thick bottle filled with hot water. However, if you have a CopperT or other Intra Uterine Device, the high heat may cause side effects.
- Electrical Heating pad: portable option which can be plugged into an electrical outlet. It takes a few seconds to heat up; always go for a good ISI certified brand with adjustable temperature. Good for mild to severe cramps.
- Feminine pain relief patches: wearable option well suited for office goers. It can be stuck directly on the skin and is good for mild to moderate cramps. Mostly contains eucalyptus and menthol which produce a cooling effect or numbness in the area around the patch. Discreet, portable, easy to use, natural.
- Self Heating patch: another wearable option that contains natural vermiculite, activated charcoal and other natural ingredients which heat upon exposure to air. It can be stuck on a snug panty to provide a mild heat to the pelvic area. Good for mild to moderate cramps; stays warm for up to 8hrs. Easy to use and dispose of, discreet and portable.
- Cramp Roll-on: best option as a portable pain reliever. Quick-acting, good for mild to moderate cramps. Available in 10ml bottles. Ingredients include eucalyptus oil, menthol etc. which numb the area. Natural, easy to carry and use.
- OTC medication: Painkillers like Ibuprofen, Meftal Spas etc are instant pain relief for mild to severe cramps. It is recommended to take the medicines at least 30 mins prior to any activities you are planning.
- Massage: Getting a good massage on the abdomen or lower back can do wonders to ease cramps. Ask a trusted friend or family member to gently massage; preferably using a soothing lavender oil.
- Yoga or light exercise: Certain yoga positions are known to provide quick relief from cramps. Practising yoga or other moderate exercises daily can reduce or prevent cramps. Consult certified experts to understand what works for you.
Myth buster: If anyone has assured you that cramps go away as you age / once you have had a normal delivery – they don’t !!
Tip: If your cramps last for more than 2 days or there is no relief after taking OTC medication, do visit your OB-GYN. If you are experiencing cramps between periods (along with spotting), there may be other gynaecological causes that need attention.
PS: The above info is based on my personal user experience and discussions with my gynaecologist. Each woman’s body is unique – what works for one woman may not work for another. These are just pointers – after all, YOU know your body best!
Ms. Deepa Perumal
QA & Management Professional
Mentor @ C2C Mission 2021 Mentors Batch 2