How to get rid of period cramps

How to Relieve Period Cramps: Your Comprehensive Guide

Formally known as dysmenorrhea, period cramps are a normal part of life for those with a uterus. It’s a typical, albeit frustrating, part of your menstrual cycle. The pain can be felt as muscle cramping in the lower abdomen which can spread to other areas such as the lower back and thighs. Your period pain can also vary each period because there are a lot of external factors that affect it. Things like exercise (3 Top Positions for Period Cramps), diet – or even acupuncture - can provide relief. You might notice that sometimes you have very little period cramping, whilst other times it could be a ten out of ten on the pain chart. You can even have cramping before or after your period, and during ovulation. 

With all these variables it can be hard to tell if your period pain is ‘normal’, if you need to see a doctor, and what factors you can change to hopefully ease your monthly cramping.

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What causes period cramps?

Period cramps can be caused by a lot of things, but the actual cramp is caused when the muscle wall of the uterus contracts. Your uterus has contractions to help shed your uterine lining. When the walls of your uterus tighten, it temporarily cuts off the blood and oxygen supply to the uterus. This is when your body releases chemicals that cause pain, in order to alert you to the cut supply of oxygen. Your body then produces chemicals called prostaglandins that cause the uterus to contract even more. 

Period cramps can also be caused by underlying medical conditions. Most commonly, people with a uterus who are in their 30s and 40s are most affected. These are conditions such as ovarian cysts, endometriosis, fibroids, Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases (PID), and adenomyosis. They can also be caused by contraceptive methods such as intrauterine devices (IUDs).

How long do period cramps last? 

The duration of period cramps varies from person to person; some have cramps at the start of the actual bleeding, whereas some experience it days before or after the bleeding begins or ends. Typically period cramps are at their worst when the bleeding is at its heaviest, and the cramps last anywhere from 2 to 3 days on average. Most people will notice an improvement in period pain as they get older, or after they have had children, if there is no underlying cause for their period pain.

What menstrual product is best to wear for period cramps? 

There are some myths about period products causing cramps. Tampons and menstrual cups should not cause additional cramping on your period. If you are having any pain, it probably means they aren’t sitting correctly. Whether you wear a menstrual cup, tampon, period underwear, pads, or even free bleed, whatever works best for you, is right to wear. 

How to stop period cramps immediately

Alright, so all of that is great to know, but how can I stop the pain right now? 

Taking over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, paracetamol, or naproxen, can ease period cramps. These are recommended for menstrual pain, and they help to lower prostaglandin, that chemical we talked about earlier. 

Whether you choose a heating pad, hot water bottle, warm bath, or similar, applying heat to the source of the cramping has been shown to relieve pain. This study shows that heat could almost be as effective as pain medicine.

Having an orgasm can help with pain relief! This is because the brain releases neurotransmitters, or endorphins, during an orgasm. These endorphins help to decrease pain perception and provide temporary relief from menstrual cramps.

There have been studies which demonstrate that using acupuncture, directly on areas experiencing period cramps, has helped to relieve them. 

Drinking tea
A hot cup of tea might have the ability to relieve cramping; just be sure to avoid the ones with caffeine. Herbal teas such as chamomile, peppermint, ginger, or fennel, have been used for centuries to provide relief for the pain. 

A good abdominal massage can provide temporary relief for period pain.  

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How to get rid of period cramps in the long run

These suggestions can be implemented over time to make sure you get some relief when you are on your next period. 

Changing your diet has been shown time and time again to provide relief for period cramps. Eating foods with a high water content - like cucumber, berries, and watermelon - can help us stay hydrated and increase blood flow which reduces period cramps. Eating flaxseed can help reduce swelling, whereas walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and almonds can reduce cramping. Chicken, fish, and dark green vegetables will also provide you with a good source of iron. 

Maintaining an exercise routine can provide pain relief by not only releasing feel-good endorphins, but strengthening your pelvic floor muscles has also been shown to relieve period cramps. 

Taking regular supplements to ensure you’re meeting all your nutritional needs is important. Magnesium has been found to ease pain, and Vitamin D has been found to reduce inflammation, as well as Vitamin E. Just be sure to consult with your primary care doctor to make sure it’s okay to add these to your diet. 

Stress management
Stress can often make period pain much worse. Deep breathing, grounding exercises, and yoga can all work together to make you less tense, more relaxed, and help to eliminate some of the pain you might be feeling.

Birth Control
Contraceptives are not just to prevent pregnancy; doctors often prescribe birth control methods for excruciating periods. These hormones help to balance yours and make periods less heavy and painful. There are many types of hormonal birth controls that may be offered to you, such as an IUD, an oral pill, an injection, or an implant.

When to see a doctor
Period pain is normal, but there often comes a point where it becomes unbearable. Despite some stigma, there should be no shame about having a period

But, there are a few things you should look out for if your pain is bothering you; pain is a spectrum, and if you’ve dealt with painful periods your entire life, you might now know if something is wrong. If your cramping lasts for more than two days, interferes with your daily life or routines, can’t be managed with over-the-counter remedies, or suddenly becomes more severe, it might be best to see your health provider. Your doctor can guide you through a care plan, run tests, and help your monthly menstrual pain become more manageable.  

Long-Term Relief for Period Cramps

To get rid of period cramps in the long run, consider changes to your diet, maintaining an exercise routine, taking regular supplements, managing stress, and possibly using birth control. These strategies can be implemented over time to provide relief for your future periods.

When to See a Doctor

Period pain is normal, but there often comes a point where it becomes unbearable. If your cramping lasts for more than two days, interferes with your daily life or routines, can’t be managed with over-the-counter remedies, or suddenly becomes more severe, it might be best to see your health provider. Your doctor can guide you through a care plan, run tests, and help make your monthly menstrual pain more manageable.

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How to Ease Period Cramps: Alternative Approaches

While medications and heat therapy are common ways to alleviate period cramps, there are several alternative approaches that can also be effective. Here are some additional methods you can try:

Essential Oils

Aromatherapy using essential oils like lavender, clary sage, and rosemary has been shown to relieve menstrual cramps for some people. The oils can be inhaled, added to a bath, or used in a massage.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness techniques can help you become aware of your bodily sensations and reduce the perception of pain. Guided meditation can also be a way to shift focus from pain to relaxation.

TENS Machines

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machines have been used to treat various types of pain, including menstrual cramps. These devices send electrical impulses to nerve pathways, which can help to reduce pain.

Herbal Supplements

Some herbal supplements like evening primrose oil and chaste tree have been traditionally used for menstrual pain. However, always consult your healthcare provider before incorporating new supplements into your routine.

Homeopathic Remedies

Although scientific evidence is limited, some individuals find relief from homeopathic treatments such as belladonna and magnesia phosphorica.

Diet Alterations

Certain foods can either exacerbate or alleviate period cramps. For instance, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and flaxseeds may help, while processed foods high in salt can worsen cramps.

Cold Therapy

While heat therapy is commonly recommended, cold therapy can also be effective for some people. A cold pack can constrict blood vessels and may reduce pain.


Focusing on pressure points in the feet, hands, and ears, reflexology is a type of massage that some find beneficial for period cramps.

Chiropractic Care

While not a conventional method, some people report that chiropractic adjustments have helped them manage their menstrual cramps.

Castor Oil Pack

Applying a castor oil pack to the lower abdomen can increase blood circulation and promote the healing of organs and tissues, potentially reducing cramps.

By trying different methods, you can find a personalized approach to managing your period cramps more effectively.


Frequently Asked Questions

There are several positions that can help relieve period cramps. These include the 'fetal position' (lying on your side with your knees pulled up towards your chest), child's pose in yoga (kneeling and bending forward with your forehead touching the floor), or simply lying flat on your back with a pillow under your knees. Each person is different, so experiment to find what works best for you.

Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, paracetamol, or naproxen can help stop period pain immediately. Other methods include applying a heating pad to your lower abdomen, having an orgasm, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or yoga.

Relief from period cramps can be achieved through a combination of medication, heat therapy (like a heating pad or warm bath), physical activity, certain dietary changes, and stress management. Each person is different, so you may need to experiment to find the most effective methods for you.

In bed, you can try changing your sleeping position to one that relieves tension in your abdominal muscles. Many people find that lying on their side with their knees pulled up towards their chest helps. Applying a heating pad can also be very effective.

The best sleeping position for period cramps can vary, but many people find relief by sleeping in the fetal position, on their side with their knees drawn up towards their chest.

Natural period pain relief methods include applying heat (with a heating pad or warm bath), having an orgasm, practicing yoga or other physical activity, and making certain dietary changes such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol.

Period pain can be reduced with over-the-counter medications, heat therapy, physical activity, dietary changes, and relaxation techniques. Always remember to maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated.

Yes, orgasms can help relieve period cramps. The endorphins released during an orgasm can help alleviate the perception of pain.

Lying on your side in a fetal position, with your knees drawn up to your chest, is often the most comfortable position for those with period cramps.

Sitting positions that can help with period cramps include sitting with your knees bent and a pillow for support, sitting in a reclined position with your feet elevated, or sitting cross-legged.

Caffeine can potentially make period cramps worse for some people. This is because caffeine can constrict blood vessels and increase tension, which can exacerbate cramps.

Yes, nicotine can potentially make period cramps worse. Nicotine can constrict blood vessels, leading to increased pain and cramping. It's always a good idea to limit or avoid nicotine, especially during your period.