Foods to Eat and Avoid During Painful Menstruation
Menstruation is a biological function controlled by estrogen and progesterone hormones. This process allows your body to shed the unused uterine lining each month.
For the record, a woman can experience 450 menstrual periods during her lifetime. Some women experience painless menstrual flow. However, others go through debilitating pain as the uterus contracts.
Medically speaking, painful periods are known as dysmenorrhea.
There are two types: primary and secondary dysmenorrhea.
The majority of women deal with the first, wherein the pain usually occurs in the lower abdomen. Sometimes, your thighs and upper abdomen get affected, too, and the pain typically lasts for 1-3 days.
In essence, there is no underlying medical condition that causes your painful periods if it falls under the primary type.
However, secondary dysmenorrhea involves a much bigger problem, and the underlying concern may require treatment.
In a study conducted in Canada, 1546 menstruating women participated. Of these, 934 (60%) had primary dysmenorrhea, while 82 (5%) experienced secondary dysmenorrhea.
There are several ways to combat intense menstrual pain. One involves a proper diet, including foods that help with period cramps.
Is It Primary or Secondary Dysmenorrhea?
Heavy bleeding, headaches, swelling, and irritability are common symptoms women face during their period. Pain tolerance varies for each.
Studies have shown that women who have given birth may have less bothersome menstrual cramps. The cause of pain reduction is still unsure.
However, one theory believes that childbirth removes some prostaglandin receptor sites in the uterus. Prostaglandins are hormones that control the contraction of the uterus during labor.
That said, some pains interfere with everyday activities. All of these are normal. However, if you feel that there is something wrong, self-diagnosing is not encouraged as it can lead to harmful health care.
There are ways to help you determine whether it is time to worry. Gynecologists suggest that you ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “yes” to one or more of them, it is time to consult with your doctor.
- Does your period pain get so bad it stops you from going about your day?
- When you have your period, is it painful whenever you use the toilet?
- Does your period pain get so bad that even over-the-counter painkillers don’t help?
- Do you commonly experience pain in your pelvic area outside of your monthly period?
- Do you experience painful sex?
Foods That Help with Period Cramps
Most women lose about ¼ cup of menstrual fluid during menstruation. But no need to worry as your body has a natural way to make up for it.
It goes similarly to the menstrual cramps that you experience. One factor that intensifies the pain lies in your lifestyle.
There are natural ways you can tame it, such as altering your diet. Below are foods that help prevent menstrual cramps.
Adding salmon to your meal can decrease menstrual pain. It is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that are essential to relax the uterus. Additionally, it contains high amounts of omega-3 that decrease your prostaglandin levels. It also offers plenty of protein and B vitamins.
Apart from being a healthy source of protein, salmon also provides vitamin D and B6. An intake of vitamin D increases your supply of calcium which is beneficial in managing period pain.
Breast tenderness is also a factor that comes with menstrual cramps, and the vitamin B6 found in salmon can help minimize it. Furthermore, it can give you comfort when you feel agitated.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Among the proven foods that help with menstrual pain are green vegetables.
Your iron level decreases as you lose blood every month. So make sure you include kale and spinach in your meal as these superfoods are rich in iron. The right supply of iron helps boost your energy, increase your focus, and supports your gastrointestinal processes.
Also, healthy greens contain magnesium. Magnesium can save you from feeling lethargic during that time of the month. Based on studies, it can “normalize the actions of different hormones (mainly progesterone) on the central nervous system” and can be used to prevent premenstrual migraines. On the other hand, it helps relax the smooth muscle of the uterus and reduces the prostaglandins that cause menstrual cramps.
Bananas, kiwi, pineapples, and water-rich fruits, such as watermelon and cucumbers, should be present in your meal.
Bananas are rich in vitamin B6 and potassium that help minimize muscle pain. Additionally, it can protect you from bloating.
If you want to relax during your monthly period and avoid lengthy meal prep, there are easy-to-prepare meals you can consume.
For one, a ready-made drink such as the Black and Blue Superfood Smoothie has pineapple and banana.
Pineapples are also helpful against menstrual cramps. They contain bromelain, an inflammatory enzyme that helps relax your muscles, plus it also improves your blood flow.
Moreover, cucumbers and watermelons are also advisable. Both will help you stay hydrated. They also reduce your swelling. Additionally, the natural sugars found in these superfoods help curb your sweet cravings.
Foods to Avoid During Your Period
As you opt for foods that help with period cramps, there are also some that inhibit the management of period pain. Try to avoid the following:
The additives in processed foods can intensify your cramps. Trans fats and foods with high levels of sodium are already bad even if you are not menstruating. Eating this during your period can trigger premenstrual symptoms, dysmenorrhea, and menstrual irregularities.
Sugar and Coffee
Mood irregularities commonly happen during the menstrual period. If you often experience this, it is advisable to look after your sugar intake.
Too much sugar can make you feel bloated, plus it can also cause a spike in your blood sugar. For the record, sweets are okay during menstruation. However, you have to enjoy them in moderation, or better yet, use fruits as alternatives.
Similarly, caffeine can induce headaches and diarrhea.
Alcohols and Spicy Foods
Eating spicy foods during your period can upset your stomach, especially if you are not used to it. It can also cause bloating.
Likewise, drinking alcohol is not advisable. It can cause a lot of unnecessary symptoms such as:
Are You Up for Changes?
Changing your eating habits can benefit you, especially during your menstrual cycles. For one, you can wave goodbye to extreme period pain and other soreness that comes with it. Additionally, some adjustments to your lifestyle can prompt weight loss and an energy boost. However, there is no need to rush. If you are up for changes, do it gradually.
Above all, you have to listen to what your body tells you. Knowing what is normal and not can help you take the next steps necessary.