A lot of women experience cramping during their menstrual cycle.
Period pain, or menstrual cramping can have a knock on effect too – with additional symptoms such as headaches, nausea and vomiting.
If you are experiencing bad cramps, you should definitely talk to your doctor about your options, and to check that the cramps are not a sign of anything more serious (quite often they’re not, and they are simply a normal part of being a woman). Women can often manage their cramps with over the counter pain killers.
Some women who experience painful menstruation (which doctors may refer to as ‘dysmenorrhoea’ may be prescribed certain types of birth control.  Menstrual cramping is said to be caused by an excess of the hormone prostaglandin. The combination oral contraception pill “reduces the amount of prostaglandin produced by glands in the lining of the uterus; which then reduces both uterine blood flow and cramps.” (Source: The Cochrane Library)
If you experience painful periods, your doctor will be able to tell you whether a combined oral contraceptive might help you manage the pain.
In the meantime, here are some other quick tips for managing menstrual cramps:
  • Exercise – your body creates Adrenalin when you move it through sport and exercise. This helps in pain relief and also makes you happier. Sport can also help you take your mind off the cramps.
  • Warm bath – a warm bath will relax your muscles which might help the cramping muscles in your body. Why not grab a good book, light a few candles and treat yourself to some you time while you’re at it too, because, who needs a good reason for that?
  • Have sex – sex also helps your body release the ‘happy hormones’ endorphins and it relaxes your body. As if we needed an excuse anyway. And if it doesn’t make your painful periods go away, it’ll at least make you forget about them for a while.
  • Take some pain relief – ask your pharmacist for the best pain killer against menstrual cramps that is available in your country. We’ve also heard of some women being prescribed with the same medication that is given to people suffering irritable bowel syndrome, as that helps relax the cramping muscles. Check with your local pharmacy and don’t forget to tell them which birth control you’re on, in case the medication could affect the effectiveness of your contraception.
  • Grab a hot water bottle and hold it to your body. The heat will also help to relax the muscles which tend to tense up when you have painful periods. There are quite a few heat patch products available in most countries, but in our experience, they’re not half as effective as a hot water bottle (which is also much cheaper, which we like too!)

Have you used birth control to manage painful periods? Share your experience to help other women make better birth control decisions.