Are you tired of struggling through menstrual cramps each month, and looking for natural remedies to stop period pain?
Period pain (dysmenorrhea) is common, and more than half of menstruating women say they experience some discomfort or pain during their bleeding days.
Many of us rely on painkillers to get us through that week each month, but over the years, this adds up. And drugs like these are full of chemicals, along with potential side effects.
The great news is, period pain can mostly be treated at home, using natural and inexpensive remedies.
But, if you are experiencing high levels of pain which prevent you from doing normal daily activities, then it’s best to speak to your doctor.
Here are 14 natural remedies to stop period pain
1. Use a heat pad
Heat is well known as a soother for many types of pain, particularly menstrual cramps.
A 2012 study found that using a heat patch to relive period pain was as effective as taking ibuprofen.
Invest in a faux fur covered hot water bottle or a heating pad, or even use a hot towel.
It’s also simple to whip up your own heating pad at home. Simply cut and sew two pieces of fabric together, leaving a small gap at the top. Fill this with uncooked rice or beans, and then stitch the gap closed.
You can then microwave this for a few minutes to get it to your temperature of choice. Leave it to cool (if needed), or wrap it in a thin cloth before using.
Then, find a cosy spot on the sofa, or snuggle up under your duvet, and relax.
2. Massage therapy with essential oils
If you have a massage therapist you know and trust, and can afford to see regularly, then you may want to book a specific massage therapy session to relieve menstrual pain.
The therapist will focus on applying pressure to specific points around your abdomen, sides, and back. Incorporating essential oils into the massage can also have additional benefits.
A partner works as a great substitute, and if you’re on your own, have a go at massaging yourself.
Be mindful of the type of essential oils you’re buying, and the source you’re buying them from, because this always effects the quality of the oil. One or two drops is always enough, as they are highly concentrated.
Another option is to use a massage oil, or even some coconut oil.
3. Natural remedies to stop period pain: Have an orgasm
When a woman has a vaginal orgasm, her whole body is indirectly involved in the process; while neurotransmitters (including endorphins and oxytocin) can also be released by your brain. Endorphins are known to decrease a person’s perception of pain, and therefore increase your tolerance for it.
So if you feel good about having sex or masturbating while you’re bleeding, it could be one of the most simple (and blissful) natural remedies to stop period pain.
And if you don’t, that’s okay. Some women have a low sex drive while menstruating, or prefer not to disrupt the downward flow of energy. If that’s the case, then try some of the other ideas on this list.
Try and opt for room temperature, or even hot water if possible. The hot liquid helps increase the blood flow to your skin, and can relax any cramped muscles.
You should be aiming to drink around eight glasses of water every day, whether you’re on your period or not. This is because your body is mostly made of water, and needs this to function at its best.
If you struggle to drink water because it’s too plain, then why not try and spice it up? Incorporate freshly sliced fruits and fresh herbs into a large mason jar or jug, and enjoy the subtle flavours along with the added health benefits from the fruits. Click here for lots of ideas and flavour combos.
Increasing the amount of water-based foods you’re eating is another of the natural remedies to alleviate period pain. This includes lettuce, cucumber, celery, watermelon, and berries.
5. Eat green
Again, this one is pretty simple, but eating a healthier diet can significantly reduce period pain.
Foods to avoid while on your period:
- Highly processed foods
- Foods high in saturated fat
- Salty foods
- Refined sugar
- Carbonated drinks
All of these foods and beverages can increase bloating and water retention in your body, which leads to pain.
Foods to reach for while on your period (and in general):
- Green vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, swiss chard and collard greens are all high in iron)
- Fresh fruits (watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries & papaya are all high in water and vitamins)
- Nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds are all high in magnesium which can ease cramps)
- Whole grains (wholemeal bread, pasta, and brown rice)
- Flaxseed (contains omega-3s, which can reduce inflammation)
The more fresh produce and colours you can incorporate onto your plate each meal time, the better. Reach for minimally processed foods, and plant based foods as much as possible.
Add herbs to your diet:
- Fennel seeds
These herbs in particular contain anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic compounds. That sounds complicated, but all it means is they can help reduce the muscle contractions you experience when on your period, and potentially reduce any swelling.
Your diet plays a huge part in your day-to-day body health; and making some simple changes can be one of the most effective remedies to reduce period pain.
6. But eat some dark chocolate too!
I crave chocolate in the few days before I start bleeding, and the first one or two days of my cycle. And I know this is common for many women.
But reaching for milk or white chocolate, that is low in cocoa and high in refined sugar won’t actually benefit you. It may temporarily satisfy your sugar cravings, but not in the long run; plus, all that sugar can actually increase the amount of discomfort you experience.
That doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of chocolate though. Dark chocolate (with a minimum of 70% cocoa solids) is actually beneficial for your body. Plus, it contains magnesium, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which will help relax your muscles.
Choose a high quality or organic brand if possible, and always check the ingredients so you know what you’re eating.
7. Sip herbal tea
Hot water is a great way to soothe period pain as we’ve already mentioned, but sipping a herbal tea can be even more beneficial.
And, lucky for us, there are so many different kinds of herbal teas on the market today. Again, try and opt for an organic product, because this will mean you’re consuming high quality, and mostly natural ingredients; better for you and our planet.
The best herbal teas to drink are ones containing:
- Raspberry leaf
You could even have a go at brewing your own.
8. Increase your calcium intake
Many of us grew up hearing our parents tell us how we need to drink plenty of milk, because it’s full of calcium which is good for our bones. But we need it for much more than that.
Calcium helps our heart, muscles, and nervous system function optimally. On top of that, having a healthy daily calcium intake can be one of the natural remedies for reducing period pain.
Dairy products are a good source of calcium, but they can also be high in fat; plus many adults are actually intolerant to dairy, but unaware of it. Other options are plant based milks, leafy greens, fortified orange juice, salmon and sardines.
9. Up the magnesium in your diet
We’ve already briefly touched on the benefits of magnesium, and how it can ease menstrual cramps. So increasing your daily intake of magnesium, particularly when you’re bleeding, can really help.
You’ll find magnesium in almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, black beans, spinach, cashew nuts, whole grains, fish, and avocados to name a few.
If you do increase the magnesium rich foods in your daily diet, and still find you suffer from bad period pain, then taking an additional supplement could help.
10. Do some gentle exercise
When I’m on the first few days of my period, I prefer not to exercise, and only go for a light walk—if anything. It really depends on who you are and how you feel. Listen to and trust your body.
The reason why exercise can be beneficial is it releases endorphins in your body, which reduce how much pain you feel.
I wouldn’t recommend anything too strenuous while on your period, but walking, yoga, and swimming are all gentle ways of exercising, and are great for your health too.
When it comes to yoga, many teachers (including me) will recommend women avoid inverted poses while menstruating; including shoulder stand and head stand pose. This is because those postures send your energy in the opposite way to where the blood is going, and can disrupt the natural flow of your cycle.
11. Take a warm bath
Soaking in a warm bath is an alternative to using a heat pad, and can also be super relaxing for your entire body and mind.
Add some bath salts or your favourite soak or bomb, a couple drops of essential oils, some dried flowers, and light some candles. Put on some relaxing music, or read a book, or even journal while you’re soaking.
I think one of the reasons why so many women experience a lot of pain during their bleeding phase is because they aren’t giving themselves the self-care they need, and a bath is a wonderful way to do this.
Taking a bath right before you go to sleep can also help you wind down, let go of the day, and have a more restful sleep.
12. Sleep well
When you’re on your period, your energy is at its lowest point in your entire cycle. This is a natural call to slow down, and take more rest.
Of course, many of us don’t have the luxury of staying in bed longer, because we have jobs to go to or kids to take care of. But even if you can get a good night’s sleep each night, it can make a significant difference.
Try and go to bed around the same time each night. Minimise screen time and artificial light in the few hours before going to sleep.
You may even want to make a bed time ritual for yourself, which helps you recognise that it’s time to sleep. This could include doing some yin yoga, enjoying a cup of herbal tea, reading a book, or taking a bath as we mentioned above.
13. Try acupuncture and acupressure
Acupuncture and acupressure are both ancient healing treatments that involve stimulating trigger points on the body. This can be one of the effective natural remedies to stop period pain, as well as other medical conditions.
A qualified practitioner will be able to show you the trigger points to focus on, and how to stimulate them yourself when you’re at home and on your period. There are also plenty of guides online that will walk you through this. Similar to massage therapy, it usually involves stimulating key points on the abdomen and back.
14. Embrace your sacred cycle
We currently live in a world where menstruation and our cycles are still seen as taboo. Some of us hide them from our partner or avoid speaking about them in front of boys and men.
And this isn’t healthy. It creates shame and stigma around our bleeding, which I believe we than carry with us internally, and continue to pass down to our daughters.
We are cyclic beings, and our cycle usually follows (on average) a 30 day pattern. And we need to honour this. We need to tune in to our body, trust our intuition, and give ourselves what we need each day; whether we’re bleeding or not.
Embracing your cycle, instead of constantly pushing against it, is a wonderful way to connect to your self as a woman, feel more in flow, and reduce any pain or trauma.
But, always seek medical advice if:
- You’re in too much pain to do normal day-to-day activities
- The pain you’re experiencing continues to get worse over time, or is not normal for you
- You have heavy bleeding
- Your temperature is over 38C
- You’re over 25, and you’re experiencing cramps for the first time
- Painkillers and over the counter medication is not relieving the pain.