5 Tips For Handling Painful Menstrual Cramps

Young woman with hand on her stomach while lying on a couch
Photo by Sora Shimazaki

When your period begins, do you have pain down in your private area? Usually lasting for a day or two? The pain is probably menstrual cramps.  If they are, I feel for you! This pain is something that you will have to deal with every month.  

 

Don’t panic! This is something that I’ve dealt with since the month after I started my period. I can give you some advice my mother gave me and what I have learned that helped me deal with them. Hopefully, some or all will work for you.

 

What is the menstrual cycle?

Illustration of human female reproductive organs with uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina, cervix included
Illustration of female reproductive system; Tigatelo from iStock

Let me tell you a little about what your period is and what cramps are. You will understand everything better.

 

The whole menstrual cycle can last about 28 days. For some women, it’s fewer days. For some, it’s more.

 

It starts with puberty. Your body will release hormones that will start up your reproductive system, so you can have a baby.

 

Inside your body, where your private parts are, is an organ called the uterus. That is where you will carry a baby. On each side of the uterus are egg-filled sacs called ovaries.

 

Attached to each ovary is a long tube called the fallopian tube. This tube goes from the ovary to the uterus.

 

Every month, one ovary will release an egg. The egg will travel through the fallopian tube to the uterus to meet a sperm cell.

 

Sperm cells (or just sperm) come from a man. They will enter your body through sexual intercourse. Once inside, sperm will start looking for an egg to penetrate (to fertilize).

 

After the egg is fertilized, it will start creating a new human (a baby). The fertilized egg will implant itself into the nutrient-rich wall of the uterus and continue to grow.

 

If the egg is not fertilized, it will dissolve and leave the body. The nutrient-rich layer of the uterus will slough off also and leave the uterus. This is your menstrual cycle (or your period).

 

What are menstrual cramps?

The uterus will “contract” or push the layer out. Those contractions are menstrual cramps! Sometimes, the uterus may have a hard time shedding that nutrient-rich layer, so the uterus will try harder to remove that layer.

 

What can help with the pain?

There are a lot of different ways to relieve menstrual pain. Here are my favorites. 

 

Pain medicine—such as Advil or Tylenol. These work great! The trick is to take these at the first twinge of pain.

 

There are over-the-counter meds designed for all the symptoms of a period. The two that come to mind are Pamprin and Midol. I’ve used Pamprin in the past, and it did help.

 

heating pad is a great thing, and I have used this a lot. Put it on your pelvis, and it will help with the pain. I have not used heat wraps, but since it uses heat it should help.

 

Drinking hot peppermint tea helps. I read the conclusion from an article published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information. It stated that peppermint extract did help in decreasing menstrual cramp pain.  

 

Birth control pills helped me in my twenties. My periods became regular (came on the same day every month), which was nice. After a while, I had to stop using them.  See, they released hormones, and these hormones caused me to act like a Grade-A B***H.

 

One of the best things I learned was a link between caffeine and the intensity of my cramps.  After I realized this, all caffeine was removed from my diet the week before my period started. To know when this was, my uterus would give me a few sharp pains a week before my period started.  So I would know it was coming. 

 

If your cramps are so severe that you can’t do anything for the first day or two, see your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe something stronger to help with the pain. 

 

My cramps were so bad in my teens that I was prescribed Anaprox. It was stronger and worked faster. I adored it. Unfortunately, my prescription ran out, and I had to go back to ibuprofen. (groan)

 

Then again, this pain may be a sign of something different. So, if they worsen to the point you can’t function, talk with your doctor.

 
Young woman curled up vertically on a furry white window seat with a cityscape window view
Photo by Polina Zimmerman

The takeaway

Cramps are awful, but they are a woman’s burden. If you don’t suffer from them, you’re lucky. If you do suffer, I feel your pain. The good thing is there are some ways to deal with them.

 

I’ve used heating pads and pain medication. In my teen years, my cramps were so bad I was prescribed a pain med called Anaprox.

 

In my twenties, I used birth control pills. They did help, but because of the hormones, I had to stop taking them. After that, my cramps weren’t as painful.

 

Also, peppermint tea and avoiding caffeine the week before my period started helped a lot.

 

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just find what works for you.

 

You can try some of the things which worked for me. If those don’t work, get with a medical professional. So you two can come up with a game plan for a more manageable period.

 

Just saying!

 

If you would like to share a story or a comment, please put it in the comment section below. I would love to read them!

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