Menstrual cramps, more commonly referred to as painful period cramps, are a problem many females deal with. In fact, as many as 80% of women experience painful period cramps – even extreme period pain – at some stage in their life.
Most women experience some form of discomfort during menstruation, especially on the first day. Some do have it worse than others, however, with 5% to 10% of women suffering through extreme period pain bad enough to disrupt their life. In 40% of women, extreme period pain is accompanied by premenstrual symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness, a swollen stomach, lack of concentration, mood swings, clumsiness and tiredness.
If you’re one of the millions of women who experience pain in your lower abdomen, hips, and lower back region during the time frame of your period, we have some exciting news for you. We’ve discovered the secret to period pain relief – menstrual massage.
If you’re wondering how to stop period pain once and for all, we’ll share below how menstrual massage can provide quick period pain relief, as well as contribute to an improved quality of life during your period. Read on to say goodbye to painful periods!
How to Stop Period Pain: The Usual Methods
There are many simple methods for period pain relief that have become staple for many women. Hot baths, hot water bottles, loose-fitting clothing, and gentle exercise are all options that have proven effective for easing painful period cramps. Painkillers are also an easy option, though the excessive use of NSAIDs and other painkillers can contribute to digestive discomfort and further abdominal pain.
NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This may sound like a positive thing, because of the effects of steroids on the liver. However,NSAIDs are incredibly dangerous when consumed regularly. Many doctors contend that the consumption of NSAIDs like ibuprofen for extreme period pain constitutes chronic use, and chronic use has been associated with the development of serious digestive health problems like damage to the stomach lining and the development of stomach ulcers.
Lifestyle changes can also make a difference to the level of period pain. Stopping smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, and eating a healthier diet of high-fiber foods and vegetables can all have positive benefits for period pain relief. Daily vitamin E supplements have moreover proven to be helpful. Drinking more water and reducing the salt in your diet to ensure proper hydration is also very beneficial, as well as the supplementation of key electrolytes, like potassium and calcium.
Fun fact: The scientific term for menstrual cramps, dysmenorrhea, derives from an ancient Greek expression which literally means “difficult monthly flow.”
How to Stop Period Paid: New Alternatives
What if there was an even better, healthier way of relieving painful period cramps and other symptoms – one that didn’t rely on the use of harmful drugs?
Menstrual massage is a relatively new technique for period pain relief, but it has already gained attention for its effectiveness in relieving painful period cramps. We all know that a massage is a great way to relax the body and melt away the stress of everyday life. But many people argue that getting a massage during your period, or even at other points throughout your menstrual cycle, can have specific benefits for period pain relief.
Not only is massage more pleasant and relaxing than traditional approaches to managing extreme period pain, it also reduces the burden placed on the digestive system by painkillers.
Want to know how to stop period pain with menstrual massage? You can choose to self-massage, go to a professional, or use massage equipment like massage belts dedicated to pain relief. You are likely to experience the best results with a professional practitioner, but they are hard to find and tend to be expensive due to the niche nature of their service.
Video showing lifestyle and fitness expert Andrea Taylor revealing her secret tip for period pain relief.
Why Massage Works for Period Pain Relief
Circulation and Nutrients
Circulation and effleurage forms of massage increase blood flow to the area being massaged.
During menstruation, the blood supply to the uterus and surrounding areas of the abdomen are almost entirely cut off, resulting in painful period cramps and muscle pains. Blood supply is not only important for the heart and brain, as blood flow to the muscles is necessary to supply key nutrients and oxygen.
A lack of oxygen and key electrolytes in the muscles is also common cause of painful period cramps. Improving the circulation in these hard-to-reach spots is both an easy way to improve overall health and recovery, and reduce cramping and pain in the muscles surrounding the uterus.
With increased blood flow comes increased oxygen supply to the cells in the region being massaged. Oxygen deprivation of tissues in our bodies is one of the major causes of pain, cramping, dizziness and the feeling of tiredness. This oxygen deficiency, known as hypoxia, can also cause serious long-term degradation in the tissues of the muscles and organs concerned. For this reason, it is important to ensure that circulation is maintained during menstruation.
Massage also acts to speed up the flow of oxytocin which plays a major role in muscle relaxation. Frequent contractions of the uterus happen during menstruation and are a major player in the creation of the extreme period pain and the painful period cramps many of us experience. This is the same feeling that occurs when you perform prolonged intense exercise: lactic acid builds up in the muscles and causes pain and soreness. The faster the delivery of the oxytocin hormone, the greater its relaxing effect to relieve muscle spasms and contractions.
Friction: Numbing and Warming
Pain relief due to numbness could also be a factor when it comes to the use of massage for period pain relief. Constant massage, especially using the vibrational techniques like ones used by massage belts, induces numbness to pain in those areas and relaxes the surrounding areas. This is also a common method of reducing the tightness and soreness of muscles, contributing to reduced painful period cramps, and lactic acid build-up.
We all know the traditional technique of using a hot water bottle when painful period cramps hit. Massage can also make use of the relationship between heat/warmth and pain reduction, as it leads to the production of heat in, on, and around the areas being massaged. Essential oils, like lavender and frankincense, and can even be warmed before use, improving the effectiveness of massage as a heat therapy.
Massage equipment designed specifically for pain reflex can also be programmed to release heat in a controlled manner. The heat released through these techniques contributes to an overall warming and relaxation of the muscle, improving the delivery of nutrients and further reducing cramping.
Massage techniques can also help with the control of bleeding. Techniques such as warm compress, abdominal clockwise massage, and lower back massage, using the right essential oils are known to affect the quantity and pacing of bleeding during menstruation.
Psychological Benefits of Menstrual Massage
Massage is a great way to improve your mood and psychological health. We mentioned the importance of oxytocin above, but this endorphin is associated with feelings of comfort and relaxation, as well as relaxing the muscles themselves. Massage is also believed to activate the release of opioids from the brain. These are natural painkillers that reduce cramping in the areas being massaged and combat general feelings of discomfort.
Increased serotonin and endorphin release is another feature of menstrual massage. Serotonin and endorphin are the brain’s “happy,” mood-balancing, stress-reducing, pain-relieving hormones. These are the same body chemicals used in drugs such as antidepressants. Massage activates this portion of our nervous system and causes the release of these pain-relieving hormones, improving mood, and combating menstrual cramps.
In addition to improving the circulation of endorphins and painkillers, studies have shown that massage is effective in the reduction of salivary cortisol. Cortisol is a stress-inducing hormone in the body that is linked to the suppression of the immune system and the development of many mental health problems like depression and anxiety. Its reduction leads to a reduction in irritability, depression and increases the overall positive balance of an individual’s mood.
The benefits of menstrual massage could even be as simple as providing a distraction from extreme period pain. Whether your chosen technique is self-massage, massage by a professional, friend/partner, a massage belt or machine, the constant rhythmic short sharp sensations can distract you from painful period cramps and other symptoms. This is one of the main reasons many women use period pain relief massage equipment – they deliver vibration and other massage techniques constantly for as much as 24 hours a day.
Other benefits of menstrual massage can include the promotion of sleep, the release of toxins from the body during this time of the month, relief of bloating associated with periods, relief of indigestion and stomach gas. These add up to a significant difference when they are experienced simultaneously.
There are many critics who suggest that these techniques are not as effective as clinical interventions like medication and painkillers. These people seem to have missed the point, however – women are reporting improved quality of life in spite of extreme period pain. There is no real difference between experiencing less pain and being in less pain: if it makes you feel better, for whatever reason, this is a great reason to use menstrual massage – especially when clinical interventions are unreliable in their effect and tend to cause painful digestive problems.
During every menstrual cycle, your hormones naturally fluctuate but how do you know when these fluctuations are normal and when they are not? Check out our article about hormonal imbalance to see what’s really happening and what you can do about it.
Try This Menstrual Massage From the Comfort of Your Home
Menstrual massage is now a treatment offered at numerous spas and beauticians. Often offered under the title “Moon Cycle Massage”, this treatment could be worth a try. If you can’t find professional offering extreme period pain relief massage specifically, you could always try a run-of-the-mill professional massage.
It’s been proven that regular massages throughout the month can assist in relieving your monthly painful period cramps simply by increasing the base line levels of your “happy hormones,” while reducing levels of stress hormones like cortisol. However, it’s suggested you avoid heavier massage techniques during your period itself as this has the possibility of increasing the heaviness of your menstrual flow if done in a non-beneficial manner.
For those looking for a quicker and cheaper solution for period pain relief, why not try massaging yourself at home? Simply follow the easy steps below!
- Knead heavily on the lateral side of the lumbar area (lower spine area) 30 times.
- Clench fists and beat area 30 times.
- Press and knead the midline of the lower abdomen 30 times.
- Place the palms on both sides of the navel and then scrub up and down over the lower abdomen, 30 times.
- Cross the hands, place them below the navel and then rub the area, 30 times.
- Nip and knead the middle part of the palm web, between the thumb and the index finger, 30 times on each hand.
- Press and knead 1-finger-breadth below the anterior crest of the tibia, 30 times on each leg.
- Press and knead 3-finger-breadths above the inner malleolus of the ankle, 30 times on each ankle.
DIY Techniques for Specific Pains and Discomfort
For individuals with particular associated symptoms, the following steps can be added to target specific sources of discomfort you may experience in addition to painful period cramps.
For breast tenderness, scanty purplish menses with clotted blood, or extreme period pain that is distended in nature and aggravated by pressure, try this massage:
- Knead the center of the sternum 30 times.
- Rub the chest transversely 30 times.
- Knead the sides of the upper lumbar spine, about the level of the ninth thoracic vertebra 30 times.
- Knead below the free end of the 11th rib 30 times on each side.
- Knead on the inner upper portion of the kneecap 30 times on each leg.
- Knead the dorm of the door, in the depression between the big toe and the second toe, 30 times on each foot.
For extreme period pain that can be relieved by warming, scanty darkish menses, or cold limbs and extremities (like the fingers and toes), try this massage:
- Knead the backbone at about shoulder level 30 times.
- Cross the hands and place on the upper abdomen and rub the area 30 times.
- Wipe transversely across the lumbar and hip, to warm ups the regions.
- Use the fingers to strike the center of the lower abdomen 30 times.
- Knead on inner upper portion of the kneecap 30 times.
For continuous, vague menstrual pain that can be relieved by pressure, scanty and thin menses, or fatigue and pale complexion, try this massage:
- Knead along the sides of the lumbar spine, 30 times.
- Knead below the free end of the 11th ribs, 30 times.
- Cross the hands and place on the upper abdomen, first rub clockwise and then counter-clockwise, 30 times.
- Wipe transversely across the lumbar region, 30 times.
- Knead the depression behind the inner malleolus of each ankle (the bony prominence on the side of each ankle), 30 times.
- Knead the dorm of the foot in the depression between with big toes and the second toe, 30 times on each foot.
If you suffer from extreme period pain each and every month, you may be at your wit’s end wondering how to stop period pain. While you could pop some over-the-counter drugs or resign yourself to spending the next three days in bed, menstrual massage may be a better (and faster) solution for period pain relief – even for very painful period cramps. During your next cycle, give it a try to see if it provides the kind of period pain relief you’ve been seeking.
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Megan is a freelance writer who loves to share recipes and write about women’s health and beauty.