Period Symptoms & Pain Relief Options

Period Symptoms & Pain Relief Options

Let’s face it, when your “time of the month” arrives –a.k.a., your period– it can really cramp your style. Your menstrual cycle is what makes your period come every month. If you experience any unwanted or unpleasant symptoms, there are over-the-counter pain relief options that can help you feel better. Period!

What are period symptoms?

Pain and discomfort during your period affect women differently. Here are some of the symptoms that you may experience during your cycle:

  1. Cramps: Many women feel pain in the abdomen, which can sometimes spread to the lower back and thighs. These cramps happen because the uterus contracts to shed its lining, which causes bleeding during your period. The intensity of cramps can vary per person.
  2. Headaches: Hormonal changes that occur during your period can trigger headaches or migraines. The fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels affect blood vessels, which may cause your head to hurt.
  3. Nausea: Some women might feel queasy and experience stomach issues during their periods. Hormonal shifts may contribute to this. You may even have diarrhea during your period.
  4. Fatigue: Feeling tired and drained is not uncommon during your period. Hormonal imbalances can disrupt sleep patterns, leaving you with little to no energy.
  5. Mood swings: Hormones can cause changes resulting in mood swings or irritability. Fluctuations in estrogen and serotonin levels can impact mood and emotions, which can also affect relationships and social interactions with other people.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) encompasses a range of signs and symptoms that can occur up to two weeks before a menstrual cycle begins. Some symptoms of PMS include mood swings, breast tenderness, bloating, food cravings, fatigue, irritability, and depression. Some people get PMS every time they have their periods and others don’t get PMS at all (lucky ducks!).

It is estimated that 75% of menstruating women experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Remember to listen to your body and if you experience pain that goes beyond your usual cycle length or if it is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, talk to your doctor. You should always prioritize your health and well-being.

Relieving Period Cramps

Unfortunately, most women experience painful menstrual cramps in their lower abdomen or back, either before or during their period. The cramps are triggered by prostaglandins, a hormone-like substance in the uterine lining.

Common over-the-counter (OTC) menstrual cramp relief brands:

  • Midol®
    Contains the active ingredients Acetaminophen, Caffeine, and Pyrilamine Maleate
  • Pamprin®
    Contains the active ingredients Acetaminophen, Pamabrom, and Pyrilamine Maleate

General Period Pain Relief Options

There are also general OTC pain relievers that can help relieve discomfort associated with your period which include:

  1. Ibuprofen: This inflammatory drug (NSAID) effectively reduces inflammation and eases menstrual pain. It can be particularly beneficial for individuals experiencing cramps. However, prolonged use should be avoided as it may affect kidney function.
  2. Acetaminophen: This option assists in pain relief during menstruation. Unlike NSAIDs, it does not possess inflammatory properties but still offers relief for mild to moderate pain.
  3. Naproxen: Another type of inflammatory drug (NSAID), provides longer-lasting pain relief, which can be beneficial for individuals experiencing more prolonged or severe menstrual pain.

Remember to read and carefully follow the instructions on medication labels. It's important to be aware of side effects interactions with medications and any medical conditions that may make certain medications unsuitable.

Safety Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Talk to your doctor: If you have any health conditions or are currently taking medications, talk to your doctor before starting any new over-the-counter pain reliever.
  • Carefully read labels and instructions: Be sure to read the Drug Facts Label carefully so you know how much to take and how often. If you have any questions, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Find the Pain Reliever that’s right for you: Not all pain relievers are suitable for everyone. Take our quiz on over-the-counter pain relievers to discover which medications might be suitable for you based on your needs and medical history.

Lifestyle Changes to Help Ease Discomfort & Pain

In addition to using over-the-counter pain relievers, incorporating some lifestyle changes can also make a difference:

  • Activities such as yoga, walking or stretching can help alleviate tension and improve blood flow, which can bring pain relief. Regular physical activity can also enhance your mood and overall well-being. Even a short 15-minute walk can help!
  • Finding ways to relax and unwind like practicing meditation or deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress levels and minimize the impact it has on pain. Managing stress effectively can contribute to balance and provide relief from discomfort.
  • To alleviate cramps and ease muscle tension, applying a heating pad or indulging in a bath can be incredibly soothing. Warmth helps to relax the muscles, offering comfort and relief. For an added touch of relaxation consider adding Epsom salts to your bathwater as this can assist in easing muscle soreness specifically related to cramps.
  • A balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has an influence, on hormone regulation and overall well-being. Additionally, be sure to drink plenty of your water during your period.
  • There is evidence from The National Institutes of Health suggesting that dietary supplements may be beneficial as well. For instance, vitamin E supplements have been shown to reduce cramps.

Period Relief Within Reach

Dealing with period pain doesn't have to feel overwhelming. At Health in Hand, we believe that being well-informed and exploring your options for relief can empower you to take control of your health and overall well-being.

Remember, every woman’s experience with her period is unique, so it’s important to find the combination of lifestyle changes and over-the-counter pain relievers that can safely make a difference in managing your pain and discomfort.

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