Menstrual periods can be the worst times for many women. From disorganisation to mood swings and unbearable pain, there is a lot to be concerned about. But periods do not always have to be your worst nightmare. Anticipating your monthly flow doesn’t have to keep you up at night. There are easy ways to get rid of the pain that accompanies most heavy flows, or at least significantly reduce it. The battle however doesn’t just begin on the day the period starts, but several days prior.
There are several factors to pay utmost attention to, in order to ensure your periods are safe and (almost) painless.
Several inquiries into the positive effects of exercises on menstrual pain, cramps and general mood swings during periods are showing promising prospects. Generally, exercise greatly improves our body’s capacity to function properly. For women with heavy flows and cramps, exercises release happy hormones like endorphins and serotonin which reduces pain during the period.
Fitness expert Tarana Hussain says, “Walking is perfect if you don’t feel like doing anything too hard core. Lace up your favourite sneakers and hit the road for a stroll or a brisk walk. If you’re suffering from lower back pain during your period, try roll-downs to stretch your spine and back. You can even try doing some simple stretches at home; focus on lengthening your muscles and taking deep breaths to ease cramps and aches. Love dancing? Sign yourself up for a Zumba dance class if you’re up for it. The fun workout will lift your mood, plus you’ll be burning serious calories at the same time!”
While the basics of menstruation are something all women have in common, each woman experiences her period differently. Haridwar-based yoga instructor Geeta Gupta recommends few asanas that are intended for a restorative home practice and can help alleviate cramps. “Take out half an hour daily, preferably in the morning and practise Baddha Konasana – the cobbler’s pose, Janu Sirsasana – head to knee pose, Upavistha Konasana – seated straddle pose, Paschimottanasana – seated forward bend, and Supta Baddha Konasana – goddess pose. These asanas will lift your mood and leave you completely relaxed for the day ahead.
Another important measure that is worthy of consideration. Supplements such as minerals, amino acids and vitamins help allay the symptoms of periods. However, not all supplements are known to help with symptoms, and some supplements interact negatively with other medications. Dr Pratima Kumari of Safdarjung Hospital suggests the right dosage of vitamins for a smooth menstrual cycle.
Vitamins B1 and B6 are two good examples of supplements that can help with menstrual pains. These vitamins are known to relieve the pain suffered during menstrual cycle. They reduce pain, menstrual cramps and mood swings. A recommended dosage of 50 mg of vitamin B6 daily or a dosage of 100 mg vitamin B1 should not be exceeded. For optimum results, these vitamins can be combined as a multi-B vitamin, and not as single nutrients. Prolonged usage above 50mg daily can lead to nerve toxicity such as burning, tingling and shooting pains.
Vitamin E is the next supplement on the list. This vitamin may help reduce pain and blood flow during periods due to its healing properties. The daily dosage includes 200 IU vitamin E to begin two days before the period actually starts, and continue for at least three days from the beginning. Taking this may cause gut upset. Avoid high doses over 400 IU daily.
With Vitamin D, one probably can never go wrong. Vitamin D helps your menstrual cycle remain regulated, reduces muscle pains, and regulates your moods. “Its daily dosage includes 1000 IU or according to your doctor’s specification. Vitamin D’s toxicity occurs when you take more doses of vitamin D than is required. It may result in increased calcium levels in the blood which may result in feelings of malaise, feeling thirsty, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, muscle weakness and fatigue and abdominal pain.
For Magnesium, there has been huge results. The supplement is known to relieve period cramps quite effectively and also improve rapid premenstrual mood changes, especially from being easily irritable and unnecessarily anxious. It may also help improve sleep, muscle relaxation and muscle cramps. A daily dose of 300 mg should be taken, preferably should be taken at night with calcium. It may also cause severe diarrhoea. Magnesium is contraindicated in the case of renal problems. It may also significantly lower blood pressure and lead to heart arrhythmia, weakness and drowsiness.
The next supplement is Calcium. It is also known to reduce cramps during periods, mood changes, fluid retention and unnecessary food cravings. A dose of 1200 mg should be administered daily. It may also lead to diarrhoea and constipation. Calcium intake is contraindicated in the case of renal disease or the patient suffering high blood calcium levels.
Zinc is another amazing supplement that is doing wonders among menstruating women. Zinc can help relieve menstrual pain, depression during periods and cramps. Zinc may also aid in boosting your immune system. The dosage is 30 mg for one to three times daily. However, it may cause gastrointestinal upset, nausea and a metallic taste in the mouth.
Fish oils too have the potential to relieve cramping, menstrual pain and depression. The dosage is 1g often taken two or three times daily. It may cause gastrointestinal upset and nausea. When taken in high doses, fish oils may reduce the intensity and viscosity of the flow. It should be avoided if you are allergic to seafood.
A proper and well balanced diet is essential to improving your overall experience during your periods. Nutrients contained in the food you consume during your cycle determines the intensity of your periods. Foods rich in Vitamin D, Omega-3- fatty acids like fish and Calcium should be encouraged while foods rich in salts, animal fats and caffeine should be avoided. Avoiding foods containing too much salt can lower fluid retention, bloating of the abdominal region, as well as swelling of the breast and pain. Consumption of copious amounts of caffeine can cause poor sleep, irritability and menstrual cramps.
Dietician Snigdha Das says, “A healthy diet is high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish, and other sources of omega-3 foods such as flax or chia seeds, low-fat dairy food, proteins such as legumes and eggs, and a variety of wholegrains such as rice (brown, basmati), traditional rolled oats, buckwheat flour, wholegrain breads (rye, spelt, kamut), wholemeal pasta, couscous, and amaranth. Some iron sources include lean meat; important in reducing heavy flow during periods.”
Periods are a normal part of the female system. For heavy flows, proper care for your body will significantly reduce cramps, and ensure you go through your monthly period seamlessly and without pain.