What natural remedies can I use for heavy, painful periods?
Alright ladies, real talk and show of hands. How many of you feel like someone let loose with a hose pipe down there during that time of the month?
Or maybe you feel like Mother Nature was err… little bit too generous with her monthly gift….
Well know this, you’re not alone. Unfortunately for a large amount of women out there, mother nature gets a bit, shall we say overzealous with her monthly handout. Like it isn’t disruptive enough having Aunt Flow fly in for a visit, dealing with a heavy, painful periods can feel like having Aunt Flow, Uncle Fred and their two kicking and screaming munchkins all up in your space at the same time. Fortunately there are some natural remedies that can help to alleviate heavy, painful periods because…
Before we get into the remedies, let’s first understand the what, why’s and how’s.
Painful menstruation or primary dysmenorrhea is commonly experienced by majority of women during their teenage years. In most cases heavy, painful menstruation does not signify a major problem. It is just a highly discomforting experience that many of us would prefer to avoid.
A number of women face this problem for the majority of their lifetime while a few others get their fair share of heavy bleeding after pregnancy and childbirth or throughout peri-menopausal stage of their life. The condition normally surfaces a couple of years after the onset menstruation when monthly ovulation gets fully normalized and stable. The good news is that the pain usually becomes less visible as ages and after giving birth. (#thereishope)
Then there are the rare and more serious cases of heavy periods which can arise due to some physiological abnormality like endometriosis or fibroids, non-cancerous tumors in the uterus and pelvic inflammatory disease. These more severe forms are often referred to as secondary dysmenorrhea.
The signs and symptoms will vary by individual but here are some of the most common:
- Profound and intense menstrual flow that can last for longer than the 1 week standard flow
- Frequent headaches
- Frequent trips to the bathroom
- Cramping and aching around the abdomen and pubic region
- Profound clotting of blood
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Low energy or stamina that makes it difficult to cope with day to day activities.
So what causes these heavy, painful periods anyway?
Heavy and painful menstruation can be caused by different factors, they are usually categorized into: Primary dysmenorrhea, a less serious issue caused by sturdy contractions of the uterine wall. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, this contraction is usually due prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are chemicals in the body that lead to swelling and pain. The degree of menstrual pain and discomfort tends to increase with the level of prostaglandins in a woman’s body.
Secondary dysmenorrhea which is more severe case can be caused by:
- Endometriosis and Excess estrogen
- Loss of the normal tone of the uterus: It is important to note that pregnancy, lack of regular physical exercise and even diet can lead to the loss of tone by the uterine wall.
- The passage of blood and tissue fluid through a tapered cervix
- Uterine fibroid or ovarian cyst
- Infections of the uterus
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Intrauterine device (IUD) commonly used for birth control.
It is important to check with a doctor to get a proper diagnosis on your situation.
Natural remedies for managing heavy, painful periods
Usually heavy and painful menstrual bleeding is a sign that there is an imbalance in the body. So the first step to getting things under control is uncovering where the imbalance is by taking a hormone blood or saliva tests.
If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of heavy, painful periods, reach for calcium rich foods, lots of lean meats and high antioxidant foods. If you are going to reach for the chocolate, which we all know Aunt flow loves to bring with her chocolate cravings, stick with dark chocolate, which has been shown to have positive effects on heavy, painful periods.
Which supplements should I take for heavy, painful periods?
Adding supplements to your diet can prove beneficial for alleviating the discomfort and promoting hormonal balance. With supplements it is important to realize that there is no holy grail formula and results will vary by individual. Sometimes it takes trial and error to find out what works best for you.
We’ve created Femininitea Flo Hello T.O.M (Time of the Month) tea, phase 1 of our women’s moon cycle tea collection, to be used during that time of the month to help alleviate pain and discomfort during period. We’ve included ginger, a powerful natural tonic for women to promote promote a healthy blood flow. To boost low energy levels and combat PMS issues, we’ve formulated Femininitea Flo Replenish with guayusa.
Supplements work by essentially ‘supplementing’ your body with nutrients it lacks so that things can function properly. Therefore, the key is knowing where there is a deficiency. You can usually find out this information with certain medical tests as well as monitoring your body very closely.
Good thing is there are apps for that. In addition to using my phone as a digital tracker, I also keep notes in my diary. This helps me take note of what works and what does not.
Beware of taking these supplements if you are on birth control or other drugs. Vitex agnus extract for example has been shown to make birth control less effective. So always check with your doctor before starting any supplementation.
So what herbal remedies can you take for painful periods?
- Omega-3 fatty acids, like fish oil, about 6 g per day can help to relieve swelling symptom. According to University of Maryland, some studies discovered that women who consumed fish oil experienced less painful menstruation than those who took ate placebo. Omega-3 fatty acids in general and excellent for general health and women struggling with hormonal imbalance. I personally love ground flax-seed, they are an excellent source if these nutrients and you can blend them in a yummy smoothie each morning. Smoothie recipe coming soon so be sure to subscribe here to our newsletter for updates.
- Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids – 2,000-4,000 mg each day. According wellness coach, Alisa from Flo Living, taking this daily dosage would help to eliminate excess estrogen and its consequence on the uterine wall. A survey revealed that vitamin C has effect of lessening heavy menstrual bleeding in 87% of women who took part in the survey. Bioflavonoids were as well found to toughen the capillaries vessel walls which in turn help to lessen the flow of blood (bleeding).
- Evening primrose oil to relieve issues from PMS.
- Vitex agnus extract or chasteberry to promote hormonal balance.
- Black Cohosh to promote balance.
- Chamomile to reduce inflammation.
- Shatavari extract also known as women’s ginseng to promote balance and alleviate PMS discomfort. This herb is very well known in India to aid in women’s reproductive health.
These supplements are available as standardized extracts in the form of pills, capsules, or tablets. They can also be taken as teas, or tinctures or liquid extracts.
While supplements can be beneficial, they are a small part of the entire dietary and lifestyle requirements.
Don’t let heavy, painful menstrual cycle disrupt your normal life
I know first hand the irritability, discomfort and pain associated with heavy, painful periods. However, you have to do the best you can to keep a positive outlook during the rough week or two. Somethings in life are simply out of our control and all you can do is your best to manage the situation.
Staying hydrated during this period can be beneficial to alleviating some of the symptoms. In addition, daily exercise for at least 30 minutes a day can be extremely beneficial. Throw in some yoga and meditation to help alleviate stress.
If it gets so intolerable, it might be time to pay as visit to the doctor. I remember having it so bad, it literally felt like someone was stabbing me repeatedly in the gut.
Other natural remedies for heavy painful periods
- Staying warm during your period can lessen cramps.
- Constant exercise enhances blood circulation to the pelvic region which in turn gets rid of prostaglandins.
- The use of sanitary pads are more advisable as they lessen the woman’s ability to feel cramped than tampons.
- There are also menstrual cups to manage heavy, periods. Frankly, I have never tried one of these myself but have heard great reviews. If you have, please let me know how it has worked out for you in the comment box below. If you are pre-childbirth, you can find them here. For post-childbirth, you can find them here.
- Pelvic tilt exercise relieves cramps. This can be done by lying on the back with your knees curved and your feet even. Make tighter muscles of your abdomen and your buttocks. While doing this, lift up your pelvis, angling it in the direction of your head. Depress to the floor your lower back, and cleave to the position for a small number of seconds. Softly bring your buttocks lower to the floor. Do this over and over again.
- Try lying on your back with knees bent. This also assists to do way with cramps.
- Taking a nice hot bath is as well good. Add in some milk and sea salt for a true relaxing and luxurious treatment.
- Try your hands on things that enable you to relax. Relaxation can lessen anxiety and stress which tends to worsen the cramps.
For more information on managing heavy, painful periods, look out for our subsequent articles on the topic.
What natural remedies do you use for heavy painful periods that has worked for you? Please share in the comment box below
“Menstrual Pain.” University of Maryland Medical Center. Ed. Steven Ehrlich. 23 Dec. 2013. Web. 19 Jan. 2016.