This week, I'm on holidays. I'm hoping my biggest problem will be deciding if today looks like a bikini or a one-piece kinda day. But just because I'm away – you need not miss out. I thought I'd pull together my 5 best ways to a pain-free period, not just for your reading pleasure but for your living sanity – because so many of us suffer from period pain and really – none of us should have to!
Before I do though – know this. Period pain isn't something you necessarily have to deal with every month. It is your body's way of telling you there is something going on. In almost all instances, it is treatable – and we address these and all reproductive health issues in the clinic everyday. If you are experiencing period pain, chances are there are a host of other symptoms present with it. And once we start to address it, these other symptoms will also be resolved. What Chinese medicine recognises is that your period pain and it's bag of symptoms, will most likely be different from your neighbour, her sister and their cousin and her bikini-waxer, because we are all unique beings. Each and every case is treated differently and for this reason, it works really well. And remember, if you are using the pill as a means to treat period pain, you might like to understand that it isn't actually treating it at all – it's just masking the problem.
Avoid cold foods at the period time.
Eating cold and raw foods can be a huge contributor to menstrual cramping and pain. Chinese Medicine recognises that pain is usually (in most instances) a result of blood not flowing freely – that is there is either a blockage or something (tissue, scaring etc) in the way of the flow. You might have heard the term 'cold in the uterus' (everybody loves this one – it's a commonly diagnoses condition). People that present this way will most often experience quite substantial period pain that responds well to warmth and sometimes pressure, darker clotted blood flow and a cold body – especially in the lower abdomen at the period time. Switching to warmer foods at this time can be a great way to help keep symptoms under control – but remember, if it is bad, it is time to get it looked at.
Get the blood flowing – go for a walk
You need to be gentle at the period time – but this doesn't mean you can't exercise. Exercise can be wonderful to help treat period pain as it helps blood to flow through the reproductive organs. People who are what TCM diagnose as 'blood deficient' (meaning that they don't have adequate blood stores) may benefit most from this. These people are more likely to complain of draggy or dull pain at the period time, they can be dizzy or faint, cold and look pale. They may also find their menstrual blood looks pale and dilute.
Ease pain with tea
The heat from the tea will help increase blood flow and alleviate pain but more than that, there are many teas that can be wonderful at this time. Chamomile is mildly sedative and therefore is useful to help treat pain. Raspberry leaf tea can also be useful to relax the uterus. Making a brew with ginger can also be useful to treat period pain. Studies show that it does so as it lowers pain-causing prostaglandins.
Plan extra sleep around the period time – when we are tired, we are more sensitive to everything. By getting adequate rest, the body is much happier for it – and if there are some period niggles, you cope much better when you are well rested.
Eat for relief
Sound odd? Some foods will make pain better and others worse. Generally whole foods are always going to make your body happy.
Foods that are high in fibre and good fats keep the bowels happy (if the bowel is strained, the pain can be worse) and the blood flowing, helping to ease pain. The top few include: