No disrespect to OTC anti-inflammatory pain meds, but they’re not the only way to go when it comes to easing the agony of menstrual cramps. Sure, they generally have a track record of working well with few side effects. But sometimes they can be harsh on your stomach, and most people don't love the idea of popping back-to-back doses for several days every month. So if you're looking for a more natural approach, try these tactics the next time the red tide hits:
1. Take a Hot Bath or Shower
If period pain isn't a reason to draw yourself a steamy, sudsy bath or take a window-fogging long shower, then we don't know what is. "Heat brings blood flow to your pelvic area, and that helps relax the muscles causing cramps in the first place," explains Alyssa Dweck, M.D., ob-gyn in Westchester, New York and coauthor of V Is for Vagina.
2. Stick On a Heat Wrap
Since you probably can't stay in the bathtub all day, Dweck suggests using one of these adhesive heat pads that fit under your tights or jeans to provide constant uterine muscle-soothing relief for up to eight hours. It's a brilliant update from those old electric heating pads you probably relied on in junior high.
3. Break a Sweat
A decent sweat session cranks up production of mood-boosting endorphins, which can actually help block cramp pain, says Dweck. Exercise fights period pain in the moment, but it can also reduce the intensity of your cramps or even prevent them in the first place. "Consider ramping up your workouts the week before your period is supposed to start," says Dweck. "Women who exercise regularly often note improvement in cramps."
4. Have an Orgasm
Seriously, there's something to this. "An orgasm really does relieve cramps for some women," says Dweck. It's not exactly clear how it works, but why not find out if you're in this lucky club by grabbing your guy (this period-sex primer explains how to get it on without ruining your sheets) or your vibrator for a solo session.
MORE: 10 Ways to Ease PMS and Period Pain
5. Sip Ginger or Cinnamon Tea
Consuming any warm liquid can reduce cramp agony a little bit, but the secret here is the spice, says Dweck. Ginger has a long history as a natural pain-fighter, and cinnamon is considered an anti-inflammatory that helps reduce the uterine spasms that cause cramps. Here's more crucial info for what to sip and eat while on your period.
6. Do This Style of Yoga
A study out earlier this year found that a certain type of yoga called Yoga Nidra can relieve menstrual pain and even help with other period issues, like a very heavy flow. Yoga Nidra is a style that focuses on deep relaxation and involves guided meditation. The study found that this deep relaxation state was linked to a drop in hormones that play a key role in menstruation.
Source: Woman Health Magazine