So It’s that time of the month again and you’re in pain, but everyone has period pain, right? Well, not really…

It is something we hear all the time: ‘I have period pain but my doctor said it’s normal’. What they may mean when they say this is that it’s common. 

Severe period pain (also known as dysmenorrhea) has been linked with conditions such as endometriosis. However, let’s talk about all the women that have period pain who have already been to their doctors and have undergone testing, and they don’t have endometriosis or any other clinical diagnoses that explain their pain (also known as primary dysmenorrhea). 

In a number of cases these women are sent away with the message, ‘you’re fine, this is just normal for women’. However, common actually doesn’t mean normal. So what can you do to help reduce painful periods? Here are 10 tips to support you.

1. Increase Omega 3 containing foods in your diet

Omega 3 fatty acids exert anti-inflammatory effects on the body. The sources for omega 3s are fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds and flax seed oil. 

2. Reduce Omega 6 containing foods

Omega 6 fatty acids increase inflammation which is associated with dysmenorrhea. It is important to ensure that you are consuming more Omega 3 fatty acids than Omega 6 fatty acids can they compete within in the body. Omega 6 contain containing foods include sunflower oil, peanuts, soybean oil and margarine, so watch your intake of those.

3. Reduce caffeine consumption – especially before and during your period!

Caffeine has been found to increase vasoconstriction (cramping) associated with period pain. Cut down on or skip the coffee all together at that time of the month. A decaf coffee, chai latter, or hot cacao are great substititutes you can try.

4. Reduce sugar consumption

Diets high in refined sugars and carbohydrates have been associated with increases in period pain, potentially due to increased inflammation, so minimising processed sugar and carbohydrates in your meals and snacks may be helpful. This doesn’t mean you have to go without dessert – have a look at our many delicious JSHealth recipes for nourishing inspiration.

5. Ensure that you are getting a restful sleep – over 7 hours per night!

Research has shown that getting less than 7 hours per night is associated with increased period pain. Having good sleep hygiene, such as going to bed around the same time each night and switching off from technology prior to sleep, may assist you in getting the shut eye you need.

6. Reduce alcohol consumption

Increased consumption of alcohol has been associated with increased inflammation, lower mood and reduced quality of sleep… all of which land on the less-than-ideal list when it comes to period symptoms. 

7. Reduce Stress

Okay, I know this one is not easy especially if you are in pain, but it’s worth it! Try doing one of our breathwork, meditation or mindfulness practices in the JSHealth App

8. Try incorporating yoga into your routine

Yoga has been found to significantly reduce period pain and quality of life in those suffering for dysmenorrhea. It’s also a wonderful stress relief technique.

9. Try alternative forms of pain relief such as heat packs

Go old school with a warming heat pack to help ease cramping and pain. We love wheat bags with lavender for the extra soothing properties! 

10. Seek help of a health professional

If symptoms persist it’s best to speak with your healthcare professional. If you suffer from endometriosis or any other pelvic condition associated with period pain these steps may also help you. It is best to try them under the guidance of your health professional. 

Please note, any information or advice given in this article is intended as general in nature and not to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

References:
Al-Husban, N., Odeh, O., Dabit, T., & Masadeh, A. (2022). The Influence of Lifestyle Variables on Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Cross-Sectional Study. International Journal Of Women’s Health, Volume 14, 545-553. doi: 10.2147/ijwh.s338651
Helbig, M., Vesper, A., Beyer, I., & Fehm, T. (2021). Does Nutrition Affect Endometriosis?. Geburtshilfe Und Frauenheilkunde, 81(02), 191-199. doi: 10.1055/a-1207-0557
Monday, I., Anthony, P., Olunu, E., Otohinoyi, D., Abiodun, S., & Owolabi, A. et al. (2019). Prevalence and Correlation between Diet and Dysmenorrhea among High School and College Students in Saint Vincent and Grenadines. Open Access Macedonian Journal Of Medical Sciences, 7(6), 920-924. doi: 10.3889/oamjms.2019.205
Yonglitthipagon, P., Muansiangsai, S., Wongkhumngern, W., Donpunha, W., Chanavirut, R., & Siritaratiwat, W. et al. (2017). Effect of yoga on the menstrual pain, physical fitness, and quality of life of young women with primary dysmenorrhea. Journal Of Bodywork And Movement Therapies, 21(4), 840-846. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2017.01.0