Women are marvelous and miraculous creations of nature. The ability to bring life to this beautiful planet is indeed magical. But with this unique superpower comes the bane that all women must suffer periodically – the excruciating pain of menstruation, commonly known as periods.
It is often associated with period pain or cramps. These painful cramps affect women not just physically through abdominal pain but also mentally, as they can result in emotional turmoil. This article will teach us how to get rid of period cramps at night and the associated side effects.
1. Why Do Women Get Periods?
The menstrual cycle is part of the biological cycle of reproduction. When women fail to conceive during ovulation, their body prepares to reject the egg and prepare for the next cycle. As a result, the hormone levels drop and induce a series of events, including the breaking of the uterine tissue and the ejection of the egg. This breaking of the uterine lining involves the breaking of associated blood vessels. These are discharged from the body through the vagina, resulting in menstruation.
2. Menstrual Pain
Normal menstruation usually lasts from 3-6 days. While few (lucky) suffer minimal pain, others suffer severe menstrual cramps. It is not just the time of menstruation when a woman suffers. Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) also affects a woman’s body. Classic symptoms include abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, mood swings, acne, and swelling in the underarms.
One of the most common and unbearable sufferings of a woman during the menstrual cycle is period cramps or menstrual cramps. The uterus contracts to break or shed its lining and eject through the vagina resulting in the cramp. The pain can extend from the lower abdomen, which houses the reproductive organs, to the thighs and lower back. While this pain is unharmful from a medical point of view, only women can associate dreadfulness with menstrual cramps. Let us now find out how to get rid of period cramps at night.
3. Ways to Overcome Menstrual Cramps
3.1 Heat and Ice Therapy
“If you hate your cramps, heat it or melt it.”
The most efficient way to reduce menstrual pain is to apply heat to the affected area. The heat tends to relax the abdominal muscles and provide instant relief. Placing a hot bag/ heating pad in the lower abdomen while lying in bed is a good cure for period cramps.
While it may not always be feasible to place a hot bag, a warm shower or a heating pad can also help relax the throbbing muscles. Snuggling inside a blanket reduces the pain if you are traveling and cannot find a heating pad. A hot bath can also help ease the menstrual flow.
The use of an ice bag is also known to relieve pain. The application of the ice bag narrows the blood vessels in the applied area, thereby reducing pain. These two therapies lack any side effects on the body.
3.2 Massage with Essential Oils
“Pampering yourself is pampering periods.”
Human beings have used massage therapy using essential oils for centuries to treat various illness-related pain. A massage of 20 minutes of the lower abdomen with a mixture of cinnamon, clove, rose, and lavender oils with the carrier of almond oil can provide relief to menstrual cramps and reduce bleeding during menstruation.
Massaging the abdomen and lumbar spine with this mixture at least once a week before the commencement of menstruation is recommended for better effects. This helps in muscle relaxation and improves blood flow. This mixture is commercially available on e-commerce sites such as Amazon or can be prepared at home. In addition to the oil mixture, lavender and clove oil with coconut oil are also proven to relieve cramps.
“Exercising every day keeps cramps at bay.”
It may not sound very welcoming, especially when one is suffering from painful cramps and a huge blood flow. A brisk walk, jog, or light exercise on days of heavy flow provides a much-needed distraction from the period pain and has also been found effective in coping with the cramps and muscle spasms. During the later stages of the period, intense or moderate aerobic exercise can be undertaken.
The most important part of exercising during periods is to know the limits and listen to the body. Over-exertion can make cramps worse and cause muscle pain.
When the excruciating pain from the cramps and periods prevents one from exercising, Yoga will come to the aid. Meditation and breathing exercises can help reduce the stress of the body. Various poses like the Bound-Angle Pose (Baddha Kon Asana), Reclined Bound-Angle (Supta Baddha Kon Asana), Reclined Twist (Bharadvajja), and Head to Knee bend(Jannu Sirs Asana) are recommended during the initial days of periods. These poses are part of elementary Yogasana and can be performed with relative easiness. Deep breaths can help with painful periods.
In addition, performing one hour of yoga for three months has significantly reduced period-related pain. Yoga and exercise help to improve blood flow and thereby relieve mental as well as muscle tension.
3.5 Eat Healthy
“Watch what you eat, or watch cramps eat you.”
It is essential to have balanced nutritious food to maintain optimum metabolism and functioning of the body. Therefore, the need for a balanced diet becomes more significant for women where the biological cycle involves a periodical change in their hormone level.
To deal with the pain during menstruation, fast food must be avoided before premenstrual syndrome. Consumption of inflammatory food such as red meat, bacon, and other processed food, white bread and rice, packed snacks, and soft drinks during the periods may act as a catalyst to the effects of prostaglandins and thereby worsen the effects of hormones by means for severe cramps and spasm. Red meat and processed food trigger menstrual cramps and muscle spasms. In short, it is best to avoid fast food.
Consumption of fresh fruits, nuts, seeds such as watermelon seeds, whole grains, and vegetables has been found effective in reducing the throbbing pain during periods, including a reduced number of cramps and spasms. Amongst vegetables, broccoli has the largest nutrition density with limited calories and is recommended to be consumed during the initial days of the period.
3.6 Avoiding Caffeine Products
Caffeine products are to be completely avoided as they increase body temperature, induce more blood flow, and worsen cramps. Intake of herbal tea daily can help alleviate cramps. Herbal tea includes raspberry leaf tea, ginger tea, and peppermint tea.
3.7 Rest and Sleeping Position
“Sleep like a baby. Literally and figuratively.”
During menstruation, many women suffer both physically and psychologically. The hormonal changes create ‘havoc’ in a woman’s body with sudden cramps and spasms, headache, nausea, mood swings, and cantankerousness.
The best way to ease cramps at night without much work is to have a night’s rest. Taking adequate naps and having a sound sleep of 7-8 hours reduces the body’s stress. In case of severe back pain or cramps and spasm, it is recommended to sleep on a hard bed that provides back support instead of a soft mattress.
While the common sleep positions are either on the back or stomach, the most recommended way by the National Sleep Foundation to sleep to cope with period-induced cramps and spasms is to sleep in the fetal position by sleeping on either of the side and curling in by tucking in hands between leg with knees curled beneath.
This helps in relieving muscular stress by taking pressure away from the abdominal muscle, thereby letting the muscle relax. Another sleeping position is to keep a pillow under your knees which helps to increase blood flow and thereby reduce the pain.
For those who have trouble sleeping, it is recommended that the room may be maintained at a cooler temperature as the body temperature increases during periods, and a cooler room will help to fall asleep.
3.8 Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Various studies were undertaken to understand the effectiveness of vitamin and mineral supplements in reducing abdominal pain and relieving period-related pain. During the study, when taken regularly, a combination of these vitamin and mineral supplements was found to affect the intensity of menstrual spasms and cramps directly.
These vitamins and minerals can also be obtained by consuming healthy food such as green leafy vegetables, cereals, mushrooms, liver and grains, and seeds. Though the supplements are known to aid in reducing pain and spasms, a doctor’s advice should be sought concerning dosage and consumption.
Vitamin and Mineral supplements found to be effective in reducing cramps at night are as follows:-
Magnesium aids in extracting energy and maintaining bones, muscles, and nerves healthy. A 320-450mg daily dose is considered optimum for a healthy woman. The consumption of soy green leafy vegetables, cereals, and grains can also be increased during the above period.
Vitamin b1 and vitamin b3 have proved to reduce cramps during periods effectively. However, an overdose of these vitamins may result in a niacin flush. Therefore, it is recommended that a doctor may be consulted to determine the appropriate dose to be consumed.
It provides the body with antioxidant properties and helps in building immunity. A deficiency of vitamin E in the body is known to cause severe muscle spasms and period-related pain.
Omega 3 Fatty Acid.
Omega 6 fatty acids in red meats are inflammatory food and contribute to period pains and menstrual cramps. Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil aid in inhibiting inflammatory prostaglandins. These mineral supplements are extremely useful for vegetarians who do not devour fish.
3.9 Pain Killer
“Kill the pain before pain kills you.”
Consumption of painkillers has proven to be 80 percent effective in relieving period cramps and, therefore, less pain. Non-Steroid Anti- Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, and naproxen inhibit prostaglandin production and help with muscle contractions.
These NSAIDs can be obtained even without prescriptions from local pharmacies. However, NSAIDs also have side effects wherein one may suffer from drowsiness or nausea. Overdose of these drugs can result in numerous medical complications.
3.10 Birth Control
Menstruation occurs when the egg is not fertilized by a sperm post-ovulation. But it may be a surprise that hormonal Birth Control Pills containing only progestin or a combination of progestin and estrogen can aid in reducing the cramps. Birth Control Pills like painkillers suppress the prostaglandin hormones and thus reduce pain and spasms.
In addition to pills, Hormonal IUDs, Implants, and vaginal rings, which can release progestin, are also associated with reducing period pain. However, extended use of birth control measures is not advisable as they may have severe long-term side effects.
3.11 Sex and Orgasm
Period sex and orgasm are yet another surprise entry into this list. Sex followed by orgasm can help the body in numerous ways other than relaxing the uterus. Sex releases endorphin hormones (anti-inflammatory) which can suppress prostaglandin and provide temporary relief.
In addition, orgasms can aid the uterus muscle wall and the body to relax and relieve tension. Period sex, however, must be performed with caution, and the use of condoms is mandatory to avoid Sexually Transmitted Infections(STI) and unwanted pregnancy. Masturbation is also known to affect cramp pain similarly to sex.
3.12 Stay Hydrated
Women should keep themselves hydrated when on their periods. Staying hydrated helps in fighting period cramps and bloating. A glass of warm water before sleep helps to relieve period cramps and get a good night’s rest.
4. When to Consult a Doctor?
Extreme period pain days before your period or menstrual cramps that do not allow you to attend to your daily chores necessitate professional medical advice. Painful periods can be associated with serious health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or sexually transmitted diseases.
The Ovulation and menstrual cycles together form the miracle of womanhood and the magic of introducing life onto the earth. Premenstrual Syndrome and period-related pain make a woman suffer periodically. The ability to endure pain and progress in life makes every woman an everyday warrior. The above methods will help eliminate period pain and have peaceful overnight sleep.