We’ve all had them and we all wish we didn’t, but sadly period pains are a fact of menstrual life. We’ve pulled together some of the more unusual remedies out there for when pain killers and hot water bottles simply don’t cut the mustard.
So, what are period pains?
First off, it’s worth just revising those school Biology lessons. In simple terms, menstrual cramps occur when the muscular wall of the womb tightens. Mild contractions continually pass through your womb, but they’re usually so small that most women can’t feel them. During your period however, the wall of the womb starts to contract more vigorously to encourage its lining to shed away (your monthly period). When the muscular wall contracts, the blood vessels lining your womb are compressed. This temporarily cuts off the blood supply – and hence oxygen supply – to your womb. Without oxygen, the tissues in your womb release chemicals that trigger pain. While your body is releasing these pain-triggering chemicals, it’s also producing other chemicals called prostaglandins. These encourage the womb muscles to contract more, increasing the level of pain even further.
Dysmenorrhea is a medical term referring to particularly difficult or painful periods. Sufferers may experience more severe lower back pain and abdominal cramping than the average menstruating woman, as well as nausea, vomiting, loose bowel movements/diarrhoea, constipation and bloating.
If, like us, you are sick to bloody death of being in crippling agony on a monthly basis, then read on. These are some of the most radical and experimental remedies being adopted by women to combat period pains.
Smoking cannabis is perhaps the best known and oldest natural pain remedy. Numerous medical studies have given evidence to this. Now this herbal ingredient is being used by women’s health brands as a possible cure for period pains, amongst other pelvic complaints. US brand Foria is really pushing the boundaries in women’s health with Foria Relief, the world’s first vaginal cannabis suppository. THC and CBD – active ingredients found in cannabis- are combined with cocoa butter to create a natural muscle relaxant that claims to ease period pains ‘in a holistic and natural way’.
Whilst traditionally thought of as a beauty treatment, Botulinum Toxin, or Botox as it is commonly known, is increasingly being used to manage a number of medical conditions such as migraines, cerebral palsy and back problems. This neurotoxic protein relieves pain by blocking the conduction from nerve to muscle. and therefore preventing these muscles from contracting. Botox is injected directly into the problem muscle, and can provide pain relief for up to a year or more. Repeated injections are required to maintain the effects longer term. The NHS is now offering Botox injections as a treatment for chronic spinal pain, headache and migraines. Some for our crows feet AND period pains please!
There has been some research to suggest that the erectile dysfunction medication Viagra could be used by women to reduce painful menstrual cramps. A new US study found that in women 18-35, administering Viagra’s active ingredient Sildenafil vaginally reduced the participants’ menstrual pain significantly. It is not known exactly why the drug reduced pain, but the increased blood flow to the uterus may be behind it. We don’t suggest trying this one at home without consulting your doctor first though!
Fitness junkies may be familiar with kinesio tape, elastic cotton strips used by athletes to protect injured or sore muscles, ease pain, and prepare the body for tough workouts. However, this athlete’s staple has also been used to ease period pains. Kinesio tape helps stimulate the sensory receptors in your skin, thereby increasing circulation and relaxing the muscles. Research in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that taping near your pelvic region before you start your period and during menstruation can help significantly relieve menstrual pain.
Why not buy a roll from your local sports shop and try this at home. Place a short, vertical strip between the top of the pubic hair area and the belly button. Then, place a longer strip horizontally between the hip bones for maximum effectiveness. Watch this super helpful video on proper application.
Having sex on your period may be a divisive topic, but researchers agree that fornicating whilst on your period could provide women with free pain relief! Getting active between the sheets causes the body to release endorphins and increases blood flow to the vaginal area. Before an orgasm, a woman’s uterus is more relaxed, but at the moment of climax, blood flow increases, helping to relieve menstrual cramps. The uterine muscles contract while releasing chemicals in the brain that act as a natural pain reliever.