Health & Fitness

Say goodbye to period pain

One in two women will suffer from period pain at some stage in their lives. We show you how to make that time of the month way more bearable.

By: Edwina Carr

Girlie DVD nights. Wearing amazing heels. Referring to the Kardashians as though they’re a part of our immediate family. Yep, there are some serious perks to this whole being a girl business. But one thing that’s got a permanent place on our ‘cons’ list would have to be period pain, or dysmneorrhoea as it’s known in the medical world. Wish there was a way to banish the tummy cramps, bloating, nausea and headaches that arrive on cue once a month? We have expert advice to help you slam the door on period pain. For good.

Why so painful?

At least half of the female population is thought to experience period pain (to the other half, we salute you!) with some suffering pain in extreme levels. “About 10 percent of women get it so severely that they will miss one to three days of work,” explains Dr Penny Adams.

So why exactly do we experience such discomfort? “The exact mechanism of period pain is not 100 percent certain but is thought to be related to increased production of chemicals in the uterus called prostaglandins. These cause the muscle in the uterus to contract and this decreases blood flow to the uterus. Other inflammatory chemicals are also released at period time and these may also cause pain,” says Dr Penny.

The key to preventing pain

For most ladies, period pain will usually start on the first day of your period and can last from one to three days. While most of us scramble for our packet of painkillers at the first inkling of a tummy cramp, there is a way more effective solution.

“The best treatment is to reduce the production of prostaglandins before they’re made. To do this, if you have a regular cycle, start taking an antiprostaglandin (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like Ibuprofen) the day before your period is due. If you have an irregular cycle, start them as soon as you get the first sign of a period,” advises Dr Penny.

Stop your period cramping your style

If you forget to start taking an antiprostaglandin before that time of the month arrives, don’t stress – there are other ways you can reduce the severity of your period pain.

Cut back on excess carbs as they can cause bloating and exacerbate your period pain. “Instead, eat whole grains, fruit and vegetables,” says Dr Penny. Switch your daily coffee to decaffeinated green tea to soothe your cramps. Although a bag of lollies might look appealing, hold off on the sweet stuff as sugary foods can trigger cramps.

If all else fails, we recommend a hot water bottle, your comfiest pyjamas and, ahem, a marathon Keeping Up With The Kardashians session.