A few days a month, twelve times a year: these are the numbers for dysmenorrhea. You may not be associating the technical term with the phenomenon itself, but if I say that it is present in every menstrual cycle and that it is responsible for causing abdominal pain and discomfort, it is clear that I am talking about it, capable of removing any from us seriously: menstrual colic.
For some women, more than for others, it is more intense during menstruation periods, but the fact is that all women, regardless of age, have experienced, at some point in their lives, an episode of menstrual colic, with high or low intensity.
Research on women’s health shows that only 75% feel the dreaded cramps monthly at different levels of intensity, and of these, ¼ reveals that the pain is extremely severe.
But what causes these abdominal pains and what can you do to minimize them and prevent them from affecting your well-being at least once a month? That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about. Ready?
Today we’re going to talk about:
- What is menstrual cramps?
- How to minimize menstrual cramps?
1. What is menstrual cramps?
Before we talk about what can be done to reduce episodes or pain and discomfort when it appears, we need to understand more about what colic is and what happens in our body when it manifests.
Clinically, it is divided into two categories: primary colic and secondary colic. The primary is the most common, triggered by the menstrual period without a gynecological disease behind it, which is what happens in secondary cramps.
Primary cramps – that is, the one that every month insists on making you feel that menstrual malaise – exist because, in fact, there is no pregnancy. If you were confused, come on: during the menstrual cycle, our uterus wall becomes thicker and more vascularized, exactly to provide the implantation of an embryo. When the released egg is not fertilized, therefore, there is a drop in the hormonal level that causes this wall of the uterus to come apart, which is exactly why we menstruate.
During this process of detachment of the uterine wall, our body releases prostaglandin, a substance that causes contractions in the uterus so that it “expels” this peeling tissue from the body – and it is these contractions and the pressure suffered by the blood vessels that cause colic.
There are some risk factors for primary colic, and age is a major one. This is because younger women tend to suffer more from menstrual discomfort, which is usually minimized over the years. Body mass index less than 20 or greater than 30, as well as irregular menstrual cycles and smoking are also other risk factors for the dreaded primary colic.
But if you have doubts about whether the pain you feel every month can be considered “normal”, know that menstrual cramps are characterized by having their onset together or shortly before menstruation, and they are easing over the next 72 hours. They tend to be intense, intermittent and located in the lower abdomen, and may radiate to the back or legs. Some women also have associated symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness, headaches, diarrhea and tiredness.
Unlike primary ones, secondary menstrual cramps have some gynecological dysfunction behind the severe pain. They are more present in women between 20 and 30 years, and can manifest up to 15 days before menstruation, increasing the intensity during the period.
Among the pathologies that can cause secondary cramps are endometriosis, uterine fibroids and infections caused by STDs. Therefore, do not think twice: if you feel severe pain, see your gynecologist. Colic, in addition to being responsible for a general malaise, can be indicative of a bigger problem, which needs to be treated as soon as possible.
2. How to minimize menstrual cramps?
Who doesn’t have a homemade recipe from their mother, aunt or grandmother to relieve colic at home, right? But what will really work and relieve these abdominal pains?
Practice physical exercises
Thinking about exercising during a period of malaise may seem quite controversial, but in fact, physical activities help to improve the discomfort caused by menstrual cramps. This is because, when we are exercising, our body releases endorphins, which have the ability to decrease pain.
But it’s no use wanting to become a triathlete on the first day of menstruation, okay? Exercise should be a practice adopted in your routine, so that when you are menstruating, your body is already used to the load of activities – and the result of it is only positive, that is, without muscle pain.
One of the exercises that I always recommend is pompoarism . many women do not know intimate gymnastics or think that they get only sexual benefits, but it is not true! With pompoirism, the woman can reduce cramps and even the menstrual period. Have you ever imagined how amazing to reduce your menstrual period from 5 to 3 days?
Take care of your food
This is another care that must be taken throughout life. Specifically during menstruation, some foods should be avoided as they increase the hormonal production that causes uterine contraction. Among them are those rich in fat, such as fried foods and sweets, for example.
The thermal bag can break a branch
Older women avoided washing their hair or taking a cold shower during menstruation precisely because they noticed that menstrual pains increased soon afterwards. And that is far from being a belief. In fact, cold water compresses blood vessels, which, during an episode of menstrual cramps, can considerably increase pain.
So, if cold water can worsen colic, hot provides the opposite result, since it dilates the vessels, decreasing the pressure inside them and providing a feeling of relaxation. Therefore, if there is a homemade way capable of relieving menstrual pain, it is the hot water bag.
Needles can do well
Acupuncture is an alternative ally for pain caused by menstrual periods. Stimuli in strategic places, such as the abdominal and lower back, can help release endorphins, reducing discomfort. And if you’re one of those people who can’t even think of having needles applied to your body without it being during a torture session, it’s time to review your concepts: acupuncture only provides health benefits, and without any pain.
Medications can help minimize menstrual cramps
Nowadays, with the evolution of medicine, there are already several medications to combat menstrual pain, which must be adopted consciously. Among them are anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic drugs, but they must be used with caution, since, in excess, they can mask a bigger problem (in this case, secondary colic).
Contraceptives also work to reduce pain and discomfort, but only your gynecologist can assess which is the best option for you, since there is a considerable hormonal difference between the pills.
Did you see how there are several options to minimize the effects of menstrual cramps? Only we know how uncomfortable this period can be and hinder our routine and productivity, so do not think twice about seeking the opinion of your gynecologist if you think that the symptoms are getting more intense over time.