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The Ultimate Guide to Managing Menstrual Pain and Related Symptoms

Managing period pain and related symptoms 

For many women, menstrual pain is an unwelcome monthly guest that can interfere with daily activities and make even basic tasks seem difficult. If you are one of the millions of women who experience period discomfort, you are aware of how uncomfortable and disruptive it can be. There are fortunately several effective treatment options for managing period pain and associated symptoms. This blog will discuss these treatment options and assist you in finding menstrual pain relief.

Why do we get period pain and symptoms? 

Well…A menstruators average menstrual cycle can last around 25-30 days with most premenstrual symptoms developing during the luteal phase. The luteal phase of the cycle begins after ovulation. 

During ovulation, an egg is released from the ovary and is held in the uterus by an ovarian follicle called corpus luteum. Estrogen and testosterone levels increase producing “feel good” hormones and progesterone is produced to prepare the body for pregnancy by lining the endometrial (uterus) wall. If an egg isn’t fertilised, then the corpus luteum (uterus lining) breaks down and progesterone productions fall causing the muscles to contract which can result in cramps and pain.  PMS symptoms can also be due to the fluctuation of hormones from high to low. 

PMS can include: 

  • abdominal bloating / pain 
  • acne
  • weight gain/fluid retention
  • digestive upsets
  • breast tenderness or swelling 
  • back / joint / muscular pain
  • tiredness/poor sleep
  • headaches and migraines
  • increased / changes in appetite
  • hot flushes and sweats
  • anxiety 
  • “brain fog”- confusion, difficulties concentrating, memory relapses 
  • low mood/depression
  • drop in self-esteem and confidence 
  • increased or decreased sexual desire 
  • mood swings 
  • irritability

Menstrual pain

How to relieve PMS? 

1. Pain relief 

By taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, it can help reduce prostaglandins- the hormone that stimulates muscle contractions leading to menstrual cramps. 

2. Exercise

Exercise is a great natural pain reliever. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which are chemicals that help block the perception of pain, and also reduces stress which can also contribute to pain. 

WHO recommends adults partake in at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity a week- that equates to a minimum of 20 minutes/day! 

3. Dietary modifications

A healthy balanced diet

By eating a healthy, balanced diet can ensure your body is receiving the vitamins and nutrients it needs and help avoid food cravings. Try to limit processed foods high in fats and sugar and limit intake of caffeine and alcohol: all of which can affect mood, increase food cravings, and generally make you feel more bloated and lethargic. 

Foods rich in vitamin B1 and magnesium can help reduce period cramps and pain and include nuts and seeds, whole grains, legumes including beans/lentils/chickpeas, spinach, cauliflower, kale, avocado, asparagus and oranges. 

4. Reduce stress 

Ways to reduce stress can include meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, listening to music, cooking or baking, or taking yourself outside for a walk in the fresh, open air. 

5. Hormone treatments 

To help manage period pain in the long term, consult your doctor as they may be able to prescribe contraceptive management to help reduce period pain. 

Contraceptive management for menstruation

6. Apply heat 

Heat can help relax muscles contributing to menstrual cramps, so applying heat to your abdomen or lower back can help relieve pain. 

Symptoms can impact the quality of life, and some may find symptoms are so debilitating they are unable to do anything. The best approach if you are struggling to manage symptoms, is to get checked by an expert who can offer you advice on how to better manage your menstrual cycles.

Here at Premier Sports & Spinal Medicine, we have various allied healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, osteopaths, and dietitians who can help you reach your goals and reduce pain. Generally, a very holistic approach is taken to look at all aspects of your life that may be contributing to your period pain/endometriosis which includes assessing your body’s protective response to pain and changing the input into your system to relieve pain, introducing exercises/stretches/breathing techniques to help your body relax during painful periods or management of endometriosis and manual therapy techniques to reduce muscular tension around painful areas. 

Managing menstrual pain during exercise and physical activity

Numerous women experience menstrual discomfort, which can make exercise and physical activity unbearable. However, regular exercise is necessary for maintaining good health and can help mitigate menstrual pain and other symptoms. Managing menstrual pain during exercise and physical activity requires a few important considerations.

It is essential to choose low-impact, gentle-on-the-body exercises. Running and leaping can exacerbate menstrual pain and discomfort. Walking, yoga, and swimming are low-impact exercises that can help keep the body moving without causing undue strain.

Keeping yourself hydrated is also crucial when exercising during your period. Drinking plenty of water before and during exercise can reduce menstrual discomfort and pain. Dehydration can exacerbate pains and other symptoms, so it is crucial to consume enough water.

Warm-up and cool-down routines can also reduce menstrual discomfort during exercise. A warm-up can increase blood flow to the muscles, whereas a cool-down can reduce tension and prevent muscle fatigue. Additionally, it is essential to wear comfortable apparel that does not restrict movement or irritate the skin.

During exercise, it is crucial to listen to your body and take breaks as needed. If you have severe menstrual pain or discomfort, taking a break or changing your activity can help relieve symptoms.Reducing stress and tension in the body can also be aided by mind-body techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and visualization.

If menstrual pain or other symptoms hinder your ability to exercise, you should consult a healthcare professional. They can assist in determining the underlying cause of your symptoms and provide treatment recommendations.

A proactive approach is required to manage menstrual discomfort during exercise and physical activity. Women can continue to exercise and maintain good health during menstruation by choosing low-impact exercises, staying hydrated, warming up and cooling down, wearing comfortable clothing, taking breaks as required, practising relaxation techniques, and consulting with a healthcare provider.

Physiotherapy for Period Pain: How It Can Help

Menstruation is a natural process that occurs in the female organism as a part of the reproductive cycle. During menstruation, the uterus contracts to discard its lining, which causes discomfort and pain in many women. This discomfort, commonly known as “period pain,” can differ from mild to severe and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as bloating, fatigue, and mood changes.

Prostaglandins, a group of hormones produced by the lining of the uterus, are known to cause uterine contractions, which can contribute to pain and discomfort during menstruation. The higher the levels of prostaglandins in the body, the more severe the pain can be.

Physiotherapy is a branch of healthcare that emphasises the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of movement disorders. While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about period pain, physiotherapy can actually be a beneficial treatment option.

Exercise is one way that physiotherapy can assist.Regular exercise can help to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation in the body, which can reduce period discomfort. Gentle stretching and yoga poses can also be effective in reducing discomfort during menstruation.

Manual therapy techniques are another way that physiotherapy can help.Massage and other hands-on techniques can help to relieve tension in the muscles of the lower back, hips, and abdomen, which can help to reduce period pain. Additionally, physiotherapists can teach patients how to use self-massage techniques to help manage their discomfort at home.

Finally, physiotherapy can also assist with postural correction. Poor posture can cause tension in the muscles of the lower back, hips, and abdomen, which can exacerbate period discomfort. Physiotherapists can teach patients how to improve their posture and reduce tension in these areas, which can help reduce their period discomfort.

Period discomfort and symptoms are a common occurrence for many women during menstruation. Physiotherapy can be a beneficial treatment option. Through the use of exercise, manual therapy techniques, and postural correction, physiotherapists can help women manage their period pain and enhance their overall quality of life.

 

In conclusion, managing period pain and related symptoms is essential to sustaining women’s health and life quality. By identifying effective treatment options and comprehending the causes of menstrual pain, women can reduce their symptoms and improve their overall health.

At our sports clinic, we have physiotherapists who are experts in women’s health and can assist women in managing menstrual pain and related symptoms. Our physiotherapists can evaluate your unique requirements and recommend a personalized treatment plan that will help you manage your symptoms and enhance your quality of life.

If you are experiencing menstrual pain or other symptoms related to menstruation, we invite you to schedule an appointment with one of our physiotherapists Our team is committed to assisting women in improving their health and well-being, and we look forward to collaborating with you to reach your health goals.

Take charge of your menstrual health today! Book a physio near you and experience the difference firsthand. Don’t let pain hold you back any longer, schedule your appointment now and start your journey towards a healthier, happier you.

By Carmen Wan (Physiotherapist)

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