7 ways to stop period pain from ruining your day

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By Liz Connor

If you're a woman, it's common to feel pain when you menstruate -
millions of us around the world suffer from period cramps every month.
But that doesn't make dealing with the agony of your monthly cycle any
easier, especially when you add the unpleasant side effects of nausea,
vomiting and regular toilet trips into the mix.

"Just because it's a regular and common occurrence, doesn't mean you
should put up with the pain caused by menstrual cramps," says GP Dr Dawn
Harper. "Being proactive can enable you to effectively manage your pain,
so you can carry on with your day."

But how can you stop period pain in its tracks? We asked Harper and Mr
Jullien Brady, gynaecology consultant at BMI The Manor Hospital, to give
us their expert-approved tips.

1. Give yourself an abdominal massage

A light, circular massage around your lower abdomen can help reduce
pain, and you could try some stretches too. Lie on your back with your
legs straight out, bend one knee and pull it up to your chin. Hug your
knee with both hands and hold the position, then repeat on the other
side.

2. Reach for the heat relief

Using a hot water bottle on your tummy can help reduce pain from
menstrual cramps, because the heat helps to relax the abdominal muscles
that are contracting during your period. As a relaxing alternative, opt
for a warm bath. Applying heat to your body twice a day can help make a
big difference.

3. Avoid triggers

Certain foods and drinks may actually make the cramps worse. Although it
can be tempting to reach for the chocolate or wine, this may actually
make the pain more acute for some women. If you note that anything does
seem to make it worse, then try and avoid these triggers if possible.

4. Effective pain relief

Over-the-counter oral pain relief is a go-to option for period pain.
There are now non-addictive options available in pharmacies, to help you
step up your pain relief whilst enabling you to carry on with your day,
with as few side effects as possible.

Products that combine paracetamol and ibuprofen in a single convenient
tablet (Combogesic, £3.99; Boots.com) mean you get the tried and tested
double-action pain relief, as well as a more convenient dosage schedule.
Speak to your pharmacist who can advise on the best treatment plan.

5. Consider oral contraceptives

If menstrual pain regularly cripples you, then you may wish to consider
taking an oral contraceptive. While formulated for birth control, these
pills can also help lighten blood flow, lessen nausea and reduce stomach
pain. Your GP is the best person to speak to about your options.

6. Try Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

A TENS machine is a small battery-operated device that delivers a mild
electrical current to your muscles, which can help reduce pain by
affecting the way pain signals are sent to the brain.

7. Get moving

It might sound the last thing you feel like doing, but gentle exercise
can help distract you from feelings of pain and discomfort. It also
stimulates the production of endorphins, which are the body's natural
painkillers. Go for walk, for a light jog or do some yoga stretches in
the comfort of your home; whatever works for you.

Remember you should see your GP if you have severe period pain, if your
normal pattern changes (becoming heavier or irregular), if you get
bleeding between periods or if you experience pain during sex.

Catherine Devane