Updated: Mar 22
Do you suffer from intense period pain every month? Period pain is so common amongst women that it has become the norm. Today we are going to squash that theory. Believe it or not, it is possible to have a pain free period.
Before we jump in to how you can treat your period pain. Let's look at what is causing it.
What is period pain?
Period pain is pain that is experienced in the first couple of days of your period. Say days 1 - 4. The pain can be anywhere from mild to extreme but if you were to take pain killers it would go away and you would be able to carry on with your day.
If you experience pain throughout your whole cycle, pain that is worse with menstruating and pain that cannot be stoped with over the counter pain medication, then something more sinister may be at play (think endometriosis or adenomyosis). If this is you please go see your trusted health care professional to get a proper diagnosis.
Ok, so back to the pain that most experience during the first couple of days of their period. This pain is caused by an increase in a a lipid compound called prostaglandins. These chemical mediators are signalled when you start your period, with their main job being to contract your uterine muscle and begin the process of your uterine lining shedding (AKA you period bleed).
Increased pain results from an over production of prostaglandins.
increased prostaglandins = increased pain.
The good news is, period pain responds very well to natural treatment. All it takes is a little work from you and in a few months it can altogether disappear. Ideally we want to start to move away from taking painkillers every month and get to a place where your periods are relatively pain free.
How to treat your period pain naturally?
Our main aim in treating period pain is to decrease the amount of prostaglandins being released. It is that simple. So how do we do this? First things first, let's start with our diets.
Ditch the cows dairy
If you are consuming cow's dairy and having period pain each month this may be a main driver. Studies suggest that the A1 protein found in cow's dairy raises inflammatory cytokines, contributing to more painful periods. This would be our first point of call. Try cutting dairy out for 2 months and see how you go.
Tip: Having lactose free milk will still case inflammation as it is not the lactose but the A1 protein that increases inflammation.
Bonus tip: If you are a cheese lover like myself you can still eat sheep and goat's milk products.
Increase your intake of omega 3’s (or supplement)
Omegas 3’s help reduce the production of prostaglandins and therefore inflammation. Consider increasing your intake of things like:
extra virgin olive oil
oily fish (salmon)
You may need a higher amount than a diet can provide so look for a supplement with 2000mg per day.
Tip: Challenge yourself and try to include at least 1 of the above in each of your meals daily.
Turmeric is a wonder herb. Once more it works by reducing the development of prostaglandins. Adding fresh turmeric into your diet daily will have a great anti-inflammatory affect. Try having half a teaspoon in hot water with a squeeze of lemon in the morning. If you have been experiencing period pain for over 2 years you may benefit in the short term from supplementing.
Tip: Look for a turmeric supplement that gives you the amount of curcumin per capsule. This will let you know that there is a standardised amount of thee active ingredient in every capsule.
The last but most certainly not the least is Magnesium. This is my go to period pain supplement. It works by relaxing the uterine muscle and by decreasing prostaglandin development. For this reason it can be used both acutely and throughout the month.
Tip: Magnesium powder works best, as it is easily absorbed. Aim for 300mg a day throughout the month, with an increase to 300mg twice daily during your period. This second dose will help with any pain you are experiencing acutely.
There you have it - several new tools you can start implementing into your daily routine. As with anything start slow. Pick two of the above tips and roll with it for a few months. See how you go, track your symptoms using a period tracking app (I love clue, kindara and flo).
Remember you know your body best and if you are experiencing period pain regularly, this isn't normal.
A world where your period is relatively pain free exists and it is not far out of reach.
About the Author
Chloe is a female health Naturopath with a passion for cooking real food and not feeling guilty about it! She is also a self confessed skincare junkie and is always trying or researching new and emerging products to recommend to her clients during the healing process. Aside from seeing people in her clinic Chloe is also developing an online skin master class, to help guide people all over the world how to clear up there skin for good! To be the first to know when this course launches, sign up here!