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Stupid Cramps

Published: January 31, 2014
Dear TeenHealthFX,

I’m having severe cramps during my period, I’m wondering if there are any foods or drinks that could help relieve these?

Signed: Stupid Cramps

Dear Stupid Cramps,

Cramps are caused by the contraction of the uterus during menstruation. Most women experience menstrual cramps at some time in their lives, however, cramps feel different for everyone.  Normal cramps can range from mild to severe, can be felt in the pelvis, low back, and legs, and may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.  Still, it is important to have your cramps evaluated by a doctor if they are severe enough to prevent you from going to school, are lasting longer than your periods, or are growing more severe with each cycle.   

Although a normal part of women-hood, cramps can really make your period difficult.  Some ways to reduce the pain include: 

  • Taking over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen during the 1-2 days of your period.  If you know when your period is coming, you can try to get ahead of the pain.  There are also over the counter medications specifically for menstrual discomfort like Pamprin
  • Apply heat to your muscles when cramps occur. Take a hot shower or place a hot water bottle on your abdomen or lower back.
  • Eat a healthy diet year round, rich in fruits and vegetables and low in caffeine.
  • Reduce your consumption of salt, sugar and caffeine during the week before your period to prevent cramps or reduce their severity.
  • Avoid any complex drinks, alcohol, or any caffeinated or carbonated drink. Sip water or clear fluids instead
  • Increase your intake of calcium-rich foods such as milk, yogurt or leafy green vegetables.
  • Keep in mind that a high-potency B-complex vitamin may help if you're susceptible to menstrual cramps. Vitamin B 6 is especially important, but don't take more than 100mg per day.
  • Some light or moderate exercise can be helpful. Swimming and walking are good activities because they are gentle and not too stressful. Certain stretches and yoga positions will also help to relieve the pain.
  • Avoid standing for long periods if you have pain in your lower back.
  • Massage your lower back to relieve tension and pain or seek out a massage therapist.
  • Magnesium has been recommended for PMS relief, but the evidence for this mineral is scanty as well. The Upper Tolerable Level is 350 mg. per day; studies on magnesium used 200 mg. If you want to try magnesium, since excess of this mineral act as a laxative, be sure you aren't getting over 350 mg/day from all supplemental sources. (By the way, diarrhea usually doesn't occur from food sources of magnesium.) 

If your cramps become unbearable or if you have any questions or concerns, you should always call your doctor for help.  

 

 

 

 

 

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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