Dysmenorrhea (Menstrual Cramping)

Primary dysmenorrhea is uterine cramping related to normal menstruation and is common. For some the cramping can be so bad that pain relief is required. Herbal medicines are proven to be equally as effective as pharmaceutical medicines in managing dysmenorrhea.

What can I try at home?
For gentle relief there are some home remedies which you can try.
Fennel tea – fennel is spasmolytic in the body, meaning that it relaxes smooth muscles.
Ginger – taken in cooking or as a tea, ginger is a carminative, meaning that it calms cramping in the body.
Some things to investigate at home:
For frequent dysmenorrhia or pain which isn’t relieved easily, it is important to gather some information before seeing a practitioner.
  • does it occur every cycle?
  • what number is the level of pain on the ‘pain scale’?
  • is this a new occurrence or has this always happened?
  • are there other PMS symptoms such as breast tenderness, water retention, skin changes or emotional instability prior to your period?
  • what medicines have provided the best relief (codeine or neurophen)?
  • Are the symptoms worse with stress?
If your pain is releived by codeine it is most likely related to muscular cramping, therefore in addition to the teas nutrients such as magnesium rich foods should help eliminate this pain. Supplements may be required and overt magnesium deficiencies can be seen with symptoms such as muscle spasms, eye twitches, cramping, fatigue.
If your pain is relieved by neurophen or aspirin type medications (those that are anti inflammatory) your pain is most likely caused by increased inflammation. During PMS and menses, your body increases the amount of pro inflammatory cytokines that it produces as a natural occurrence. For some the balance of pro inflammatory cytokines and anti inflammatory cytokines is pushed too far out of harmony, leading to (in some cases) extreme pain. The area will feel hot to touch at times, and can radiate down your back / legs. Reducing the inflammatory response during menses will rectify this type of pain. For some adopting an anti inflammatory diet will suffice, for others supplementing with omega 3s and increasing the dose around menses will be required.
If you answered yes to the other questions relating to PMS and your cycle, there may be hormonal imbalance which requires support. It is important to remember that there is never a one size fits all approach to women and hormones. There are many hormones which cascade at different levels at different times in your cycle and it is essential that a trained practitioner reviews your unique symptoms to discover which hormone/s or endocrine organ needs support.
If your pain during menses is severe and dramatically limits your ability to work or conduct normal daily activities or not relieved easily by pharmaceutical medication, as a precaution it may be necessary to rule out secondary causes of pain and cramping such as fibroids and endometriosis.
If this is something you have struggled with and you are now ready to rectify, book an appointment with me at woodsnaturopathy@gmail.com
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