Menstrual pain including the cramps and other types of discomfort it brings along with it is no fun at all. Also referred to as dysmenorrhea, cramps are often similar to a dull, throbbing pain that makes itself known in the lower part of the abdomen before and during the monthly menstrual periods. Some women experience pain at the lower part of the back or the thigh area. Some women suffer more discomfort than do others.
Many women dont know this but menstrual cramps are broken down into two different categories- there is primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is the type that most women do not escape throughout their many years of periods. This type generally gets its start a few years after the menstrual cycle kicks into gear and is related to hormone-like substances that are known as prostaglandins.
Prostaglandins are substances that are naturally produced by the body and they are believed to be to blame for the pain and inflammation and sometimes even fainting and nausea that accompany the monthly menstrual period. Primary dysmenorrhea is in no way connected to any type of physical dysfunction in the body.
Secondary dysmenorrhea on the other hand is the sign of a problem and should be checked out immediately. Secondary dysmenorrhea always has a physical cause underlying it. Some of the most common causes include uterine fibroids or uterine polyps, endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
If you suffer from menstrual cramps, whether they be mild to moderate to severe then it is important to schedule an appointment with your doctor for a check up so that the source of the problem can be properly diagnosed.
If you are diagnosed with regular menstrual cramps (or primary dysmenorrhea) then simply taking an ibuprofen and getting extra rest should help. Exercise is also recommended as a method of alleviating the pain associated with monthly menstruation. It is wise to cut back significantly on your intake of caffeine as you near that time of the month.
Omega 3 Oil
There are a variety of holistic and alternative methods that can help to relieve the pain and discomfort that is often par for the course when it comes to menstrual periods for women. A number of studies have shown a positive correlation between increasing ones intake of omega-3 fatty acids in terms of fish oil and a reduction in menstrual cramps.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in plentiful supply in fish such as salmon, sardines, anchovies and mackerel. If you are not a fish lover then do not despair, you can still get your share of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids by way of fish oil capsules which can be purchased at most health food stores and grocery stores as well as drugstores in the alternative food section of the store.
Be aware that fish do contain a certain amount of mercury and pollutants such as PCBs so there are instances where it is possible to overdo a good thing. In this case capsules might be preferable as all of the impurities and pollutants are taken out of the product before it reaches the stores for consumers to purchase. Always look for the active ingredients EPA and DHA when it comes to fish oil capsules.
Putting Fish in your Diet
If you choose to increase your intake of fish oil in order to decrease your monthly menstrual cramps be aware that you need to eat more fish or consume more fish oil on a consistent basis and not just during the days that you have your period or the week preceding your period. More and more evidence is pointing to the effectiveness of fish in maintaining a healthy and well balanced diet and fish is not just beneficial when it comes to menstrual cramps but it can be useful in regards to a number of different health conditions.
If you are not a person who enjoys fish then experiment with different kinds of fish as well as different recipes in order to find ways of preparing and eating fish that are more appealing to you. For example baked salmon that is wrapped in tin foil is delicious.
Add a little bit of olive oil to the fish and then squeeze a tiny squirt or two of lemon and include a slice of lemon in the pan if you like. Sprinkle a tiny portion of your favorite spice and then wrap it in aluminum foil and let it bake. In this way the aluminum foil acts as a type of oven so the fish cooks in its own juices.
If you take aspirin on a regular basis or if you are on any drugs that thin the blood such as warfarin (Coumadin) be aware that fish oil capsules can work negatively with these drugs and a doctor should be consulted before you consider taking them. Some of the potential side effects that could occur with the combination of these drugs include bleeding and indigestion. In order to prevent the fishy taste of consuming these oils always take them before you eat a meal.
Studies have shown that increasing your intake of the mineral magnesium can play a positive role in decreasing the incidence of menstrual cramps. Magnesium is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in many different kinds of foods including leafy green vegetables such as lettuce, and broccoli, whole grains, seeds and a variety of nuts.
Magnesium can also be purchased as a nutritional supplement. You can purchase magnesium alone or buy it in combination with calcium, which is another mineral that has been indicated as instrumental in helping to decrease menstrual cramps and other pain.
Magnesium is required by the body for more than 300 different biochemical reactions. This is an essential mineral that is needed to build muscle and required for normal nerve function while it also is responsible in part for regulating the level of blood sugar and it also plays an integral role in the development of bones, immune system function, blood pressure and heart rhythm.
Be aware that consuming too high a low a dose of the mineral magnesium on a regular basis can lead to any number of negative side effects such as low blood pressure, an irregular heart rate, weakness in the muscles, problems with breathing, nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and a great deal of confusion.
Too much magnesium in the system can negatively interact with a variety of medications such as medications prescribed for high blood pressure (such as calcium channel blockers) and osteoporosis as well as a variety of antibiotics, muscle relaxants, as well as diuretics. Always consult with your doctor about the dosage of magnesium you require to help with your menstrual pain.