Having menstrual pain sucks, as a sufferer for many years, I know what it feels like when you can barely get out of bed, let alone go to school or work, or the mere thought of being in a cold room makes me shudder. As we all know, medication and pain relievers really should be our last resort. If there’s a method to get rid of pain naturally, that’s the way you should go!

What causes Menstrual Pain?

A common question you may ask is, what exactly causes these pain? A menstrual cycle is when your body sheds the lining of the uterus (womb) each month. To do that, it needs to push. What causes the pain is when your body releases a hormone called prostaglandin, which aids in muscle contractions. Pain occurs when there’s too much of that and contractions block oxygen in the womb.

Why does some people have worse pain than others?

I don’t think the exact answer is known, so I can only go by what I feel. Seeing as prostaglandins are the cause of menstrual pain, I often wonder why some people release more of these and others don’t. In Chinese Medicine, what’s often brought into attention is how well your blood flows. If your blood is stagnant and blocked, then it takes much more effort to push it out. If the body can’t even push out the blood, then it will need more prostaglandin to do the job. Think about this. When things are too cold, they solidify, but in heat, they melt. This principle is the same for blood. Warm blood would be easier to expel than cold blood. Therefore, warmth helps pain while cold makes these cramps worse. Since we know it’s the contractions that causes the pain, I thin it’s important to look at why some people can push it out so easily while others can’t. Perhaps it’s because certain people’s body, qi or blood is slightly more blocked than others.

However, I wouldn’t say that’s the only reason for menstrual pain. There’s all these other factors, such as hormonal levels, different bodies.

Ways to Relieve Menstrual Pain

1. Keep Warm

Avoid eating cold stuff out of the fridge like drinks, fruits and such. Always make sure you’re warm, because it just seems that cold makes the pain a whole lot worse. If possible, try and be in a warm place, rather than an air-conditioned room. Sometimes, it helps to put a heat pack on your stomach.

2. Massage Accupressure Points

More than a year ago, I saw on a program on TV showing a method of relieving menstrual pain by pressing certain accupressure points. Too bad I was too lazy to do it, because I missed out on what could’ve been my ultimate cure. On the 28th of April, 2013, I decided to truly give this a try and promised myself I wouldn’t slack off. This is now the second month in my entire life where I did not need to take any medications for the pain. (The first month, I was in Australia and the weather was super warm, and I barely felt anything at all)

You will need to continuously massage your stomach and not just stop after a minute. Put your hands on the red arrows and press down. If you continue for a while, you may notice an immediate improvement, but you may also find that as soon as you stop, the pain would come back. My suggestion is continue massaging this area with one hand while you do other things for the entire day, and stop when you really feel that the pain is gone. No matter how hard it gets, don’t give up!

3. Exercise Regularly

Before I started my daily hour walk on the treadmill, I was basically in bed for a couple of days once the period started. Even after I took pills, I just felt tired, sore and groggy. The pain was still there and I couldn’t do much. However, ever since I started to walk, I found that the bad pain only lasts a maximum of one day. It has seriously helped my menstrual pain so much that I no longer feel as if the period is this iron gate that stops me from going where I want once every month.

Exercises help relieve pain because it helps release what’s known as your own human morphine, called beta-endorphins. Not only does it relieve pain, it also burns the prostaglandin, the very thing that causes menstrual pain.

4. Eat a Healthy, Vegetarian Based Diet

Many people have found that going vegan/vegetarian has helped menstrual pain significantly. Food can change the levels of hormone in the body, particularly estrogen, which can be considered the hormonal fertilizer that causes cell growth in the body. Of course, these cell growth would lead to the increase of prostaglandins. Animal based diets contain very little fibre, which makes it hard for estrogen to be naturally disposed by the body, as fibre is the thing it latches on to.

Eat more: Whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, barley, whole-grain bread, fresh vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, onions, legumes such as beans, lentils and peas, as well as fresh fruits.

Try and Avoid: Meats such as beef, lamb, pork, as well as eggs, fats and oils like butter and margarine, fatty foods like doughnuts, french fries, chips, cookies, candies and diary products. Try only having fish or chicken once a week.

5. Herbs and Tea

Certain herbs and tea are particularly good for Menstrual Pain. Here’s a list of them that you should check out and have.

  • Korean Red Ginseng
  • Ginger
  • Angelica Roots/Dang Gui

Most of these herbs have the benefits of invigorating blood circulation and aiding in the flow of blood, making it easier for the body, so there needs to be less prostaglaidins released. (I’m aware some of them taste absolutely bitter and horrible, but for the sake of health, I think it’s worth it!)

My Own Experiences

My mother had horrendous menstrual pain, and she knew that was something I was going to get. She wasn’t wrong! I still remember when I was about 12, she used to try and get me to keep warm, in hopes that perhaps by not entering cold water, I wouldn’t get the pain.

Though I don’t suffer nearly bad as others who actually scream and faint, but I do understand menstrual pain isn’t a pleasant feeling and while you’re suffering that pain which you can’t even describe in words, you just want to get rid of it. Mine used to always come with diarrhea, which was very annoying. That’s why it became a habit that I took at least one Naprogesic tablet each month. This was actually my teacher’s suggestion while I was at school. Funny how I was so comfortable in telling even male teachers about my female problems back then. But anyway, Naprogesic helped me for many years.

In the beginning, my pain lasted much longer. I had to take about 3 pills a month if I wanted to get anything done. Back then, I barely exercised. However, in the recent couple of years, I started walking one hour on the treadmill each day. To my absolute surprise, this has helped me more than I imagined. I only had to take one pill a month! I knew if I worked harder, I may even be able to go off them completely. (Hey, no pain killers are good for the body, right? And they cost money! Who wouldn’t want to come off them?) That’s when I decided to try the massage, and to my absolute joy, it worked. The mistake I made in the past was that I wasn’t serious about massaging and only did it for a minute, thinking that was enough. Wrong! It took an entire of constant massage to get rid of the pain, but it was worth it! I can’t believe, after so many years, I am free of medications!

The massage even caused my stomach to feel painful the next day, but that’s a different and good type of pain. It’s similar to the pain you get when you work out for the first time, and tear your muscles and the next day, you get that muscle growth pain. It’s almost a good feeling! I urge everyone to try the massage and if you’re on constant medication or the pills, who knows. You may not even need to take them one day!