10 Ways to Ease Menstrual Cramps

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Menstrual cramps can range from mild to severe. You might feel only slight discomfort, or you might have throbbing pain in your lower abdomen. They can start one or two days before your period begins and last for several days after. Whether the cramps are just a nuisance or they interfere with your daily life, continue reading to find ways to help combat the pain.

A woman holds a hot water bottle to her abdomen to soothe menstrual cramps.
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Use a heating pad

When your cramps strike, think heat: Little else is more soothing than a hot water bottle or heating pad when you are enduring horrible cramps.

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Exercise

When you have cramps, the last thing you want to do is get up and move, but mild exercise can actually help reduce the cramps. Try taking a walk or riding your bike, or even try doing yoga. Make sure you pick an exercise you enjoy.

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Stay away from caffeine

We know how difficult it is for some people to stay away from coffee, but it can really exacerbate cramping during your period. Caffeine can also increase tension by constricting blood vessels, which can worsen menstrual cramps. Coffee may also irritate the stomach.

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Try sitting and sleeping in different positions

You might find that lying on your side with your knees bent helps relieve the pain, or you might find another position feels better. Try experimenting with different positions to find what works best for you.

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Incorporate relaxation techniques into your day

Try meditation or yoga, or treat yourself to a massage. Some women find acupuncture or acupressure techniques work to reduce the pain and cramping as well.

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Change your diet throughout the month

One study found that reducing fat and increasing vegetables in your diet might reduce your cramps because it influences your estrogen levels. A low-carbohydrate diet might also help: a study completed in 2014 found that eating low-carb decreases inflammation.

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Take supplements

A number of different supplements may reduce the pain. Omega-3 fatty acids, calcium citrate, vitamin D, vitamin E, and magnesium all may help, according to the University of Maryland. As with all medications and supplements, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking them, especially if you have other health conditions. For example, magnesium can interact with antibiotics, diuretics, and other medications.

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Drink chamomile tea

Chamomile tea is known for its ability to make some people feel relaxed or sleepy. It might also have other benefits, according to a study by the American Chemical Society. The researchers found that it increases level of glycine, an amino acid that helps to relieve muscle spasms.

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Have an orgasm

Barry R. Komisaruk of Rutgers University found that the areas of the brain activated by pain are the same ones activated by orgasm. During vaginal stimulation and orgasm, the pain is blocked. According to Komisaruk, “the more pleasurable the genital stimulation, the greater the pain blockage.”

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Take over-the-counter pain relief medications

If non-medication techniques don’t work, over-the-counter pain relief medications might do the trick. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can help reduce the pain associated with menstrual cramps.

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.