Just because something is common doesn’t mean that it’s normal. Take period pain, for example. Each month, many women suffer through what they think is a normal part of their period, the excruciating pain that comes with their cycle. Other women experience it as well, so they never question whether or not the days or weeks of intense pain that come along with their regular flow are something to question.
However, even though pain surrounding your period is common, it’s not necessarily normal and can actually be due to a number of different factors and reasons. It’s important to work with a practitioner to identify the root cause of the pain, and how you can eliminate or manage pain surrounding your period.
Having tools on hand, though, for period pain is a great resource to help you manage your pain now or while you are completing a protocol with your practitioner. Even after you’ve balanced your hormones, having tools on hand for period pain can be a helpful way to help manage any residual or infrequent pain you may experience as part of your period. Why? Life happens. The last 100 days impact our current cycle. Holidays happen, travel happens, chronic illness flare ups happen. So it’s good to be prepared!
When it comes to creating your period pain toolkit, there are some things you may think are best to turn to, such as pain relievers and over the counter medication. However, there are other non-medical options that can help you manage your pain during this time, as well. While many women do well utilizing pain relievers and OTC drugs, having personal treatment options is key.
Here are the tools I have in my Period Pain Toolkit.
Ginger: Ginger is my favorite option for pain reduction. There are a number of research articles available that back up the use of ginger for the reduction of pain, including period pain. Many of these studies actually compare the use of ginger with that of prescription drugs!
When selecting ginger for your period pain, I find that fresh ginger root is the most effective option. I prefer to boil water and make my ginger into tea by allowing it to steep in the hot water for a few minutes before drinking. Ginger also supports healthy digestion and can help you if you have an upset stomach.
Magnesium: Magnesium is a calming mineral, meaning that it helps more than just period pain. Used as an option for pain relief from headaches and muscle soreness, taking magnesium daily and increasing magnesium leading up to and during your period can help reduce period pain. It has also been shown to help with one of the most detrimental symptoms of period pain, menstrual migraines.
Magnesium is the first mineral depleted during the stress response and is used for over 1,200 different chemical processes in the body. It’s important for overall hormone health and mineral balance in the body cannot be emphasized enough.Here are some ways to naturally boost Magneisum: – Epsom salt bath – Magnesium oil spray (don’t use it right after you shave–it burns!) – Magnesium malate or glycinate supplements – Leafy greens–I like adding these to bone broth
Heating pads: Though it seems simple, heat does truly work when it comes to alleviating period pain. If I have period pain, drinking ginger tea and relaxing with a heating pad is my go-to treatment of choice for managing my pain.
One of the challenges, however, with using a heating pad is finding a place to plug it in! Thankfully, there are a number of on the go options available for heating pads if you need to travel or work while you’re in pain. Options such as Thermacare patches provide adhesive patches, and reusable heating packs that can be warmed in the microwave also allow for heating on the go.
Cramp Bark: Used for hundreds of years as a way to decrease inflammation and fluid retention, cramp bark is a plant found in North America that is known for its pain relieving properties. Now used to treat cramps and muscle spasms, cramp bark is great for all types of muscle cramps but is especially effective for period cramps. Cramp bark comes in capsules, tea, and tincture form. Be sure you are purchasing cramp bark, as other plants are often called by the same name.
Rest: Sound simple, right? Tracking your period and planning for some rest during this time helps reduce the stress on the body and can help with period pain. I know we can’t always rest, but remembering that this is a tool you can utilize whenever possible helps.
Create a schedule during your period that allows for rest from regularly stressful activities. Consider swapping out high intensity workouts for yoga or more relaxing options during this time, or simply listen to what your body is telling you and take the day off from your activity.
TENS Device:Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation AKA (TENS) device is a device that sends small electrical vibrations that overload the nerves and stop pain signals travelling to your brain. They also cause the muscles in the uterine area to relax, resulting in a calming analgesic effect. Ovira is my favorite brand that is portable, easy to recharge, and has the widest range of stimulation.
Creating a period pain tool kit is a good way to help you feel more confident and comfortable each month during your cycle. Though period pain is common, it doesn’t have to be normal, and simply surviving through the pain each month definitely doesn’t have to be your only option for care. To get to the root of your period problems, check out our Master Your Minerals course, in which you’ll learn how to build your own hormone-healing protocol based on your HTMA results.
Amanda Montalvo is a women's health dietitian who helps women find the root cause of hormone imbalances and regain healthy menstrual cycles.