How can you relieve mild menstrual cramps?

To relieve mild menstrual cramps:

  • For the best relief, take ibuprofen as soon as bleeding or cramping starts. Ibuprofen belongs to a class of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They reduce the output of prostaglandins. If you can’t take NSAIDs, you can take another pain reliever like acetaminophen.
  • Place a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower back or abdomen.
  • Rest when needed.
  • Avoid foods that contain caffeine.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
  • Massage your lower back and abdomen.

Women who exercise regularly often have less menstrual pain. To help prevent cramps, make exercise a part of your weekly routine.

If these steps don’t relieve pain, your healthcare provider can order medications for you, including ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory medication in a higher dose that is available over the counter. Your healthcare provider might also suggest oral contraceptives since women who take oral contraceptives tend to have less menstrual pain.

If testing shows that you have secondary dysmenorrhea, your provider will discuss treatments of the condition causing the pain. This might mean oral contraceptives, other types of medications, or surgery.

What types of alternative therapies might help with menstrual cramping?

Women who have painful periods often try to find natural ways of dealing with the pain. Studies on alternative or complementary methods have not been conclusive about results. Remember that most supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Other methods that you might find useful include:

  • Yoga.
  • Massage.
  • Acupuncture and acupressure.
  • Relaxation or breathing exercises.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/20/2020.

References

  • Office on Women’s Health. Menstrual Cycle. Accessed 11/20/2020.
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dysmenorrhea: Painful Periods. Accessed 11/20/2020.
  • InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Period pain: Overview. 2008 Feb 22 [Updated 2019 Aug 1]. Accessed 11/20/2020.
  • Fisher C, Adams J, Hickman L, Sibbritt D. The use of complementary and alternative medicine by 7427 Australian women with cyclic perimenstrual pain and discomfort: a cross-sectional study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016;16:129.
  • Nagy H, Khan MAB. Dysmenorrhea. [Updated 2020 Jul 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Accessed 11/20/2020.

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