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Menstrual and Pre-Menstrual Cramp Relief

Menstrual and Pre-Menstrual Cramp Relief

Menstrual cramps are pains in the belly and pelvic areas that are experienced by a woman as a result of her menstrual period. Menstrual cramps are not the same as the discomfort felt during premenstrual syndrome (PMS), although the symptoms of both disorders can sometimes be experienced as a continual process. Many women suffer from both PMS and menstrual cramps.

Menstrual cramps can range from mild to quite severe. Mild menstrual cramps may be barely noticeable and of short duration sometimes felt just as a sense of light heaviness in the belly. Severe menstrual cramps can be so painful that they interfere with a woman's regular activities for several days. Menstrual cramps of some degree affect more than an estimated 50% of women, and among these, up to 15% would describe their menstrual cramps as severe. Surveys of adolescent girls show that over 90% of girls report having menstrual cramps.

Menstrual cramps are pains that begin in the lower abdomen and pelvis. The discomfort can extend to the lower back or legs. The cramps can be a quite painful or simply a dull ache. They can be periodic or continual.Menstrual cramps usually start shortly before the menstrual period, peak within 24 hours after the onset of the bleeding, and subside again after a day or two.

Menstrual cramps may be accompanied by a headache and/or nausea, which can lead, although infrequently, to the point of vomiting. Menstrual cramps can also be accompanied by either constipation or diarrhea because the prostaglandins which cause smooth muscles to contract are found in both the uterus and intestinal tract. Some women experience an urge to urinate more frequently.

Remedies for menstrual cramps:
• Increase your liquid intake to preventing dehydration as dehydration aggravates menstrual cramps.

• Ginger is a wonder herb and has tremendous health benefits that even extend to easing menstrual cramps. Boil some ginger slices in water. Keep sipping this throughout the day.

• Placing a hot water bag on the stomach will help in easing the pain or a better option is to squeeze a towel in hot water and place it on the stomach.

• Avoid drinking caffeinated products whether its coffee and aerated drinks as they tend to cause irritation in the intestines.

• Sipping mint or peppermint flavored tea throughout the day is known to ease the discomfort caused by menstrual cramps.

• During menstruation, the pelvic area tends to get congested. Therefore, drinking more hot liquids promotes blood flow to the pelvic area and helps in relaxing the pelvic muscles. Consume green tea and herbal teas throughout the day.

• Women whose bodies are weak, tend to suffer menstrual cramps in greater severity. Therefore, you need to curb the lack of vitamins and minerals in the body. There are various vitamin supplements available in the market today, but it is best to consult a doctor before opting for the choice of vitamin supplements.

• Stretching your arms and legs will help easing out menstrual cramps.

• Drinking a glass of the juice of carrot, beetroot, cucumber along with parsley.

Above tips are simple but sometime they don’t work in a severe menstrual pain. Menstrual pain may be self-treated with a number of OTC products consisting of analgesics and/or analgesic diuretic combinations. These products work best if they are taken when symptoms first occur and on a scheduled rather than "as-needed" basis. Mild-to-moderate pain usually responds to acetaminophen, which also is included in many popular combination OTC products. Because effective treatment of moderate-to-severe pain involves the inhibition of production and activity of prostaglandins, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), eg, ibuprofen and naproxen, may be recommended as good choices. Because of its side-effect profile, aspirin generally is not a first-line agent.

Most important, if menstrual pain disrupts quality of life to a great extent, occurs frequently, or is not relieved by OTC products, a health care provider should be consulted.

Premenstrual Relief

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, refers to the range of physical and emotional symptoms that most women experience in the lead up to a period or menstruation. PMS can be managed with medications and other strategies. PMS symptoms may include bloating, acne, anxiety, depression, digestive upsets, food cravings, headaches and migraines, swollen and tender breasts, and mood changes.

It is thought that most menstruating women have premenstrual symptoms, ranging from relatively mild (in 75 per cent of women) to severe (in 20 to 30 per cent of women). In 8 to 20 per cent of women with severe symptoms, PMS is associated with reduced quality of life.

PMS is a complex condition that includes physical and emotional symptoms. The latest research points to changes in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) in the time after ovulation and before menstruation. Life stressors and a genetic link may also play a role. Although the cause isn’t conclusively known, PMS can be managed with various medications and other strategies.

Symptoms of PMS
• Abdominal bloating, fluid retention
• Acne
• Anxiety, confusion
• Clumsiness
• Depression and lowered mood, which may include suicidal thoughts
• Difficulties in concentration, memory lapses
• Digestive upsets, including constipation and diarrhoea
• Drop in self-esteem and confidence
• Drop in sexual desire, or (occasionally) an increase
• Feelings of loneliness and paranoia
• Food cravings
• Headache and migraine
• Hot flushes or sweats
• Increased appetite
• Increased sensitivity to sounds, light and touch
• Irritability, including angry outbursts
• Mood swings, weepiness
• Sleep changes, including insomnia or excessive sleepiness
• Swollen and tender breasts.

Exactly what causes premenstrual syndrome is unknown, but several factors may contribute to the condition:
• Cyclic changes in hormones. Signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome change with hormonal fluctuations and disappear with pregnancy and menopause.
• Chemical changes in the brain. Fluctuations of serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that is thought to play a crucial role in mood states, could trigger PMS symptoms. Insufficient amounts of serotonin may contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as to fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems.
• Depression. Some women with severe premenstrual syndrome have undiagnosed depression, though depression alone does not cause all of the symptoms.
• Stress. Stress can aggravate some of your PMS symptoms.
• Poor eating habits. Some PMS symptoms have been linked to low levels of vitamins and minerals. Other possible contributors to PMS include eating a lot of salty foods, which may cause fluid retention, and drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages, which may cause mood and energy level disturbances.

You can sometimes manage or reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome by making changes in the way you eat, exercise and approach daily life. Try these approaches:
Modify your diet
• Eat smaller, more frequent meals to reduce bloating and the sensation of fullness.
• Limit salt and salty foods to reduce bloating and fluid retention.
• Choose foods high in complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
• Choose foods rich in calcium. If you can't tolerate dairy products or aren't getting adequate calcium in your diet, you may need a daily calcium supplement.
• Take a daily multivitamin supplement.
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

Remedies for Premenstrual Relief
1) Calcium: Studies suggest that calcium levels are lower in women with PMS and that calcium supplementation may reduce the severity of symptoms. Women with the greatest intake of calcium from food sources had the least PMS symptoms. Another study found that 300 mg of calcium carbonate four times a day significantly reduced bloating, depression, pain, mood swings, and food cravings.

2) Chaste Tree Berry: Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) berry is one of the most popular herbs for premenstrual syndrome in Europe. Women taking chaste tree had significant improvements in irritability, depression, headaches, and breast tenderness. The most common side effects of chaste tree berry are nausea, headache, digestive disturbances, menstrual disorders, acne, itching, and skin rashes. Chaste tree berry should not be taken by pregnant or nursing women. The safety of chaste tree berry in children or people with kidney or liver disease has not been established.

3) Magnesium: The mineral magnesium, found naturally in food and available in supplements, has showing good preliminary results for PMS. One study examined the use of magnesium supplements or placebo in 32 women with PMS. The amount of magnesium used was 360 mg three times a day, starting from day 15 to the start of the menstrual period. Magnesium supplements were found to significantly improve PMS mood changes.

4) Evening Primrose Oil: Evening Primrose oil is a plant oil that contains gamma-linolenic acid, an omega-6 essential fatty acid. Gamma-linolenic acid is involved in the metabolism of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins that regulate pain and inflammation in the body.

5) Acupuncture: In traditional Chinese medicine, the liver is the organ most affected by stress, anger, and frustration. Stagnation of liver energy, or "qi", by emotions, alcohol, and spicy and fatty foods can lead to PMS symptoms such as breast tenderness and abdominal bloating and cramping.

6) Dietary Suggestions
• Reduce sugar and salt intake. This is especially useful for bloating and swelling of the hands and feet, breast tenderness, and dizziness. Increase foods rich in potassium, such as fish, beans, and broccoli.
• Eat small, frequent meals to help stabilize blood sugar.
• Eliminate caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety, depression, and breast tenderness.
• Increase intake of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and fish.
• Avoid alcohol.
• Decrease intake of fatty foods and red meat.

7) Exercise: Regular aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling may help relieve PMS symptoms. In one study, the frequency but not the intensity of exercise was associated with a decreased PMS symptoms.

8) Relaxation: Breathing exercises, meditation, aromatherapy, and yoga are some natural ways to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Many women feel more assertive and attuned to their needs in the weeks before menses. This can be used constructively by allowing for personal time to relax, expressing emotions, and giving priority to your needs and what nourishes you.

Supplements that may help reduce PMS symptoms include calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6 (in doses less than 100 mg) and vitamin E. Other dietary and vitamin supplements, such as evening primrose oil, ginkgo biloba extract, black cohosh, dandelion and essential fatty acids, have not been shown to have any effect on symptoms of PMS.

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