We’re sorry, but menstrual cramps are perfectly normal. You are not alone. Most women experience them because the muscular wall of the womb contracts during menstruation. The most common form of period pain is a sore lower tummy, but you can also feel pain in your lower back and legs.
Cramps during menstruation is called primary dysmenorrhea if there is no underlying physical cause.* In that case: try to find a natural solution to tackle it (together with mood swings, cravings for chocolate and other discomforts; again sorry). You can take special painkillers from the pharmacy of course, but since you are menstruating about 13 times a year and about 5 days per cycle – for around 40 years (!) – you’d need a shipload of pills in your menstrual life.
What can you do?
Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Just listen to your body. Even if you are lounging on the sofa, binge watching TV series and eating chocolate: at least one organ is working out (your uterus). It’s perfectly normal that you function differently during your monthly bleeding. Every phase of the menstrual cycle (there are four) has its own benefits. So don’t start a diet in the menstrual phase, do that when you are ovulating. Use this knowledge, don’t fight it. Treat yourself to a nice hot bath or shower to relax the cramped-up muscles of your uterus (and to ease your mind).
Second: fool your hormones
This may sound as a contradiction, but exercise can help against cramps too. Don’t overdo it though. Walking the dog, swimming, dancing: exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, a natural pain killer. It also slows down the production of prostaglandins. These are hormone-like lipids that control processes such as the induction of labour. So yes, menstrual cramps can definitely feel like contractions (again: sorry!).
Spice up your (sex) life
The menstrual phase normally isn’t the phase you feel the need to seduce your partner, get naked and have sex. Although some women do have a higher libido during their menstruation. Nevertheless: an orgasm is one of the best ways to get rid of period cramps. If not the very best. During an orgasm, the pelvic floor muscles are put to work. This helps to relax the muscle wall of the uterus. More things happen in your body. During sex and/or an orgasm, hormones like endorphins and oxytocin are released. These ‘feel good hormones’ not only reduce all sorts of pain (headache, tummy cramps), but they actually make you feel better about yourself in seconds.
Sounds good? Okay, getting aroused can be a problem if you long for granny panties, oversized sweatshirts, chocolate/pizza/French fries and a hot water bottle. Same goes for taking that healthy walk or swim to reduce cramps. You need to start if you want to finish (or climax). If the idea of period blood is holding you back: menstrual blood is as gross as normal blood (this means: it is not). You can avoid blood stains by wearing a tampon, menstrual cup or disc or a sponge tampon. With discs and sponges you can have sex with penetration.
Back to the (lack of) arousal. Not feeling comfortable butt naked and experiencing troubles with touching yourself? It is not a coincidence that you find vibrators and other sex toys in the collection of high-end menstrual brands. A little help can help. Spice up your (sex) life! Try a vibrating panty for example.
Vibrating panties are – otherwise than you might think – small vibrators, bullets or love eggs that are designed to be worn under your panties. They come in all varieties, with and without remote control or even paired with an app. Some sets come with panties that have a special pocket for the vibrator right against the clitoris, whilst others have magnetic clips, straps, or nothing at all.
Transform your granny panties or menstrual underwear
The good thing is: you can make vibrating panties yourself quite easily. If you have a pair of (granny) panties with a fairly large pocket in the gusset, you can pop in a bullet or other small vibrator. You can even transform your special menstrual underwear by adding a clip-on vibrating toy. Opt for toys made from hard plastic or silicone instead of PVC. These materials are easy to clean and don’t harbour any bacteria after washing thoroughly. That is important, because the risk of infections is slightly higher on your period.
More information? On BedBible you’ll find an excellent review, based on 75 hours of research, selection, and testing. You’ll also find information on how to use and wear a vibrating panty, and how to operate remote controlled panties. Menstruating or not.
*If you suspect your cramps are the result of an underlying disease or disorder, like endometriosis, adenomyosis or fibroids, you have secondary dysmenorrhea. This means you definitely need to seek medical help. Menstrual complaints that interfere with your daily life (work, school, sports, social activities) are always a good reason to visit a GP or gynaecologist. Period!
Photo: Monika Kozub via Unsplash.
Period! is an independent, online magazine about all aspects of menstruation. Period! is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. If you’re suffering from medical complaints, always visit your doctor or GP. Editorial articles can contain affiliate links. Sponsored collaborations can be found in the category Spotlight. Do you have any questions? Check our contact page.