Menstrual Cramps--How to cope with them? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: What are your menstrual cramps like and what do you do for them?
I don't get menstrual cramps. 6 46.15%
My menstrual cramps are mild. 11 84.62%
My menstrual cramps are moderate. 29 100.00%
My menstrual cramps are severe. 23 100.00%
The pain is so bad that I sometimes vomit. 12 92.31%
The pain is so bad that I sometimes pass out. 4 30.77%
I take painkillers during my period for the cramps. 40 100.00%
I take "the pill" or other medication to control the pain. 6 46.15%
I use heat to ease the cramps. 35 100.00%
I take dietary supplements to help prevent menstrual cramps (please specify). 9 69.23%
I take herbs to ease the pain (please specify). 7 53.85%
I have modified my diet to prevent menstrual cramps (please specify). 5 38.46%
Other (please specify). 10 76.92%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 13. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 31 Old 05-11-2010, 07:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm especially interested in holistic or alternative healing ideas for coping with severe menstrual cramps, but everybody should vote in the poll!
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#2 of 31 Old 05-11-2010, 07:33 PM
 
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I have a sock filled with rice that I heat in the microwave and put on my stomach when it's cramping. It works really well. Also, laying on the floor with my legs stretched out and my arms stretched above my head seems to help. It kind of stretches that area.

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#3 of 31 Old 05-11-2010, 08:38 PM
 
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I take ibruprophen and use heat to help the pain.I'm subbing to see what others have to say.

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#4 of 31 Old 05-11-2010, 09:38 PM
 
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I used to get very bad cramps, nausea, etc. I had to do major clean up in my life and diet after dd's birth so I don't know what helped to what extent. I am now gluten, dairy, soy, and egg free, and take a whole pile of vitamins. I know FOR SURE though that if I run out of magnesium than I will have bad cramps. I take 200-400 mg of magnesium/day.

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#5 of 31 Old 05-12-2010, 01:34 AM
 
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My cramps are mild to moderate and I use a couple tactics. First line of defense is a cal/mag supp and heated rice sock. I use prescription strength ibuprofen (600 mg. tab) if that doesn't help enough or if I have to go somewhere and can't use heat. I do take the cal/mag supp twice a day anyway but have definitely seen the extra help with the cramps.

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#6 of 31 Old 05-12-2010, 01:43 AM
 
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800 mg of Ibuprofen and a rice sock for me.

My cramps aren't that bad now compared to how they were as a teen, but I still sometimes have enough pain to warrant doing something about it.

I don't feel bad or whatever about taking an anti-inflammatory over the counter med like advil/ibuprofen for cramps b/c I take it regularly for headaches and other discomforts. Everyone is different, though, but I don't see any reason to continue to be in pain if there is a way to alleviate it (and heat, herbs, etc., aren't cutting it).

I take magnesium daily - but it's not for menstrual cramps, and I have no idea if it makes a difference for me.

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#7 of 31 Old 05-12-2010, 01:56 AM
 
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I don't know if there's science to back it up but since I started taking b6 my cramps have been sooo much lighter. They used to be debilitating.

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#8 of 31 Old 05-12-2010, 03:51 AM
 
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My doctor suggested that I try taking 5 grams of high omega 3 fish oil a day for easing menstrual cramps. He said to take it consistently for two whole cycles, and then see how I felt on the third. Darned if my breast tenderness and cramps didn't almost completely go away after 2-3 months of fish oil!

In the past I have always used heat: hot water bottle, sock filled with hot rice, or a hot bath. And my favorite herbal remedy is crampbark infuson. It tastes rather awful but is quite effective.
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#9 of 31 Old 05-12-2010, 03:52 AM
 
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I answered:

My menstrual cramps are severe
I take painkillers during my period for the cramps (formerly true. I am now allergic to NSAIDS, most certainly from taking 3 advil every 4 hours for two days, every month, for 8 or so years).
I use heat to ease the cramps.
I take dietary supplements to help prevent menstrual cramps (please specify) ( this isn't accurate. I misread it. I eat foods with specific nutrients but don't take supplements).
I have modified my diet to prevent menstrual cramps (please specify).
other


I get cramps so bad I can't really move around much, I can't drive, I can't function. If I were the type to throw up from pain, I'm sure I would. I always took advil, and it got me to functioning, but not comfortable. Now that I'm allergic, I've been dealing with how to deal.

The first month was truely hellish.

The second (most recent) was not THAT bad. In fact, it was possibly the mildest cramps of my life! I *think* it was that I started drinking a banana/raw milk/egg yolk smoothie every morning (not just on my period, all month). There are a lot of nutrients in that combo that are reputed to help cramps (potassium, calcium, other things?) It might have been my body detoxing from the advil, as I've heard some women who claim their cramps were much lighter after advil detoxing (and not using any advil for any reason). I also started exercising 1x a week. Who really knows what was the biggest preventative factor.

to help with the moderate cramps I still had, I use heat, and caffine (I never drink it outside of my period, so it is quite powerful a stimulant, and helps with the cramps and foggy headedness).

Caroline, partner to J, post partum doula, kitchen manager, aspiring midwife, soon to be nursing student, mama to my furbaby, someday a mama to not so furry munchkins, G-d willing
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#10 of 31 Old 05-12-2010, 12:41 PM
 
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I've found castor oil packs with heat work well. I've always had really bad cramps and used to use bcp and NSAIDS. I don't take that sort of stuff anymore. The cramps got a lot better after acupuncture and pregnancy, but I also changed all the supplements I was taking, stopped using tampons and improved my diet, so who knows what of all those things has helped. But the castor oil did help a lot at the time. Apply castor oil to a flannel and then use one of those heat packs that you can stick onto your underwear. Ahh, I can feel everything relaxing just writing about it. I think epsom baths help me as well.
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#11 of 31 Old 05-12-2010, 03:15 PM
 
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Ibuprofin and a rice sock here, too.

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#12 of 31 Old 05-12-2010, 03:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwiva View Post
I've found castor oil packs with heat work well. I've always had really bad cramps and used to use bcp and NSAIDS. I don't take that sort of stuff anymore. The cramps got a lot better after acupuncture and pregnancy, but I also changed all the supplements I was taking, stopped using tampons and improved my diet, so who knows what of all those things has helped. But the castor oil did help a lot at the time. Apply castor oil to a flannel and then use one of those heat packs that you can stick onto your underwear. Ahh, I can feel everything relaxing just writing about it. I think epsom baths help me as well.
Can you do the castor oil packs without the heat? How many layers of flannel? Doing it without heat would mean I could leave the house with it (in the right pants, lol). Because I'm too cheap to buy those heat things that stick to your undies.

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#13 of 31 Old 05-12-2010, 03:25 PM
 
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I got my period before ibuprofen was available OTC in any form.

I missed school, spent several days a month feeling like I was being torn apart.

(Heck, when I first got my period, books and medical texts still were claiming that cramps were psychological and caused by girls and women rejecting their womanhood.)

The first time I took ibuprofen on CD1, I called it a miracle drug. The difference was astounding.

After that, it was 4-5 ibuprofen at the first sign of a cramp and I didn't have to miss school or work.

My cramps totall changed and became much more manageable after having baby #1. They came back after awhile, but not nearly as all-encompassing and overwhelming. They went away completely again after #2 but again came back, milder afterwards.

savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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#14 of 31 Old 05-12-2010, 03:43 PM
 
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I would call mine moderate. They hurt like early labor, to me, only more constant. Sometimes I'm dizzy enough to warrant putting my head between my knees awhile.

Anyway, I'm not really supposed to have ibuprofen because of my ulcerative colitis, but I've never found anything else that gives me any real relief. I only need the ibuprofen for about 36 hours a month. I do get a lot of relief from heat and from napping, but I have three little children and a part-time job and am active in the church, and sometimes I just can't spend a day and a half lying around in bed with a heating pad.

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#15 of 31 Old 05-12-2010, 03:58 PM
 
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Hi Mama,
I used to have severe menstrual cramps (fever over 101, baaaaddd cramps, vomiting, etc.). I switched over to the Diva cup and cloth moon pads/mama pads and it is 100% better. I now have a much lighter flow overall, minimal cramping, etc. I haven't had to use any pain meds since switching.... it's fantastic.
I swear by these two products!
~maddymama
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#16 of 31 Old 05-12-2010, 05:23 PM
 
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I have made so many changes in my diet and lifestyle, it is impossible to tell what was the "answer".

As a teen and young adult, I had the type of cramps that left me in bed moaning for two days and nothing helped. I fainted a lot, too. My diet was junk food and soda and fast food with a few homemade meals thrown in every once in awhile.

Over time, I have completely changed my diet and drink mostly water. Had a baby in there, too.

When I get cramps nowadays, I do gentle yoga and drink extra water and take a slow and easy walk. Viola!

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#17 of 31 Old 05-12-2010, 05:32 PM
 
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Ditch the tampons and invest in some cloth pads. As Maddymama said, 100% better. Cramps are almost non-existent now and lighter flow/less days overall.

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#18 of 31 Old 05-13-2010, 02:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all these fabulous ideas!

I'm intrigued with this cloth vs. disposable pads idea. What's the theory behind how the disposable pads cause more cramping and bleeding? (I don't use tampons.)
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#19 of 31 Old 05-13-2010, 02:12 PM
 
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I discovered by accident that Red Raspberry Leaf seems to ease mine. I was taking Rubus Idaeus while trying to get pregnant, as prescribed by my ND. Was having cramps one day, before I took my daily dose, and the cramps were soon gone. Have been using it for quite a while now, and it always seems to work!
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#20 of 31 Old 05-13-2010, 08:12 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rayo de sol View Post
Thanks for all these fabulous ideas!

I'm intrigued with this cloth vs. disposable pads idea. What's the theory behind how the disposable pads cause more cramping and bleeding? (I don't use tampons.)
My understanding is that it could have something to do with the dioxins in the disposable pads but don't quote me on that. Cloth pads are much more comfy that paper though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trac View Post
I discovered by accident that Red Raspberry Leaf seems to ease mine. I was taking Rubus Idaeus while trying to get pregnant, as prescribed by my ND. Was having cramps one day, before I took my daily dose, and the cramps were soon gone. Have been using it for quite a while now, and it always seems to work!
Thanks for this! Are you taking capsules or making a tea/infusion? It's been ages since I've had the tea but it would be a nice addition to my anti-cramp arsenal.

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#21 of 31 Old 05-13-2010, 08:30 PM
 
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I used to have very excruciating cramps pre-children. I would have to go home from school or take off work. My go to was 800 mg ibuprofen which I would start before I started menstruating. Even after changing to a strict vegetarian diet, eliminating dairy and eggs, I still suffered. Around the same time I switched my diet, I also became interested in holistic medicines and herbs. I found some relief using Black cohosh in tea and tincture form a few days before I started menstruating. During menstruation, I would use a hot water bottle wrapped in a cotton towel, self-massage and yoga postures. That helped tremendously but I would sometimes still have to take ibuprofen. Having kids completely changed things and the cramps became more manageable, and although I needed to ibuprofen from time to time, the pain was not incapacitating. Switching to cloth pads really and I mean really changed things. It's rare that I get cramps now and if I do they are more of an annoyance than anything else--so long as I make sure I am well hydrated. Now if I am cramping, water and making sure to take my multi-vitamin (w/ cal/mag), I am usually good.

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#22 of 31 Old 05-13-2010, 11:25 PM
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Red Raspberry Leaf Tea helps.

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#23 of 31 Old 05-14-2010, 03:42 PM
 
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I don't get any menstrual cramps whatsoever. I used to have a little bit of cramping when I was in high school and college from what I recall and sometimes it was moderate cramping. Then a few years ago I noticed that I don't get menstrual cramps anymore. My period now comes and I don't have any physical warning signs of it because I don't feel any different at all. Every month I'll look at my panties and only then I'll notice my menstrual flow because seeing it is my only indication that I'm getting it since I don't feel it physically. I don't use tampons, only pads (except for the occasion when I'm wearing a bathing suit). I take a bunch of whole-food supplements, you name it and I probably take it or have taken it. I try to eat mostly a nutrient-dense Traditional Foods WAPF diet with grass-fed raw dairy products, bone broths, pastured eggs, etc., so maybe all those things help.

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#24 of 31 Old 05-22-2010, 07:03 PM
 
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Like others, switching away from disposable menstrual products made a huge difference. Over the course of a year, my cycle became 2 days shorter than it was when I started and much more comfortable. At first, I was too heavy to use a cup but now use a lady cup for my heavier days and cloth for my lighter days. When I gave birth 8 weeks ago, I spent the extra money to get a stash of postpartum cloth pads and I have to say my bleeding stopped a lot quicker than it did for my first two births. It was so much more comfy too.

Mom to three great boys Michael (Sept/01), Carter (Nov/05) and Reid (March/10).

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#25 of 31 Old 05-23-2010, 01:35 AM
 
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I answered that I get moderate and severe cramps (varies from cycle to cycle).

I do take painkillers (Advil) as needed (and I've had prescription painkillers in the past). I also use a hot water bottle for relief. And I sometimes modify my diet in that I eliminate coffee. Well, sometimes I do sometimes I don't - depends on whether my "need" for coffee (ie. what level of sleep deprivation I'm at) is strong enough that it's worth having more painful cramps.

FWIW I have not noticed any difference in my cramping from when I use disposable or cloth pads.

Also, I take nettle tea during AF, not for cramping but for the extra iron because I bleed quite heavily during AF.

Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#26 of 31 Old 05-23-2010, 03:06 PM
 
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calcium supplements
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#27 of 31 Old 05-23-2010, 03:12 PM
 
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I have severe cramps. I do vomit just about every month -- not from pain, but from the contractions spilling over to my digestive tract. I've had to pull over on the side of the highway and drop to my knees. Not fun. They weren't always like this.

At this point, I take ginger capsules, ginger tea, PMS tea, and modify my diet just before and during my period. Low fat, low insoluble fiber (I have IBS), no caffeine, no alcohol, small meals, lots of pretzels. I have a prescription for naproxen, which smooths out the muscle fibers of the uterus and reduces cramping. It also acts as a (regrettably mild) pain reliever. And I use a heated rice pillow pretty much constantly for the first 3-4 days until the cramps ease off enough for me to function.
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#28 of 31 Old 05-23-2010, 05:18 PM
 
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I don't have cramps, but my sister gets terrible ones and was just telling me about her amazing newly discovered cure.

She takes a ginger tincture (the strongest one she could find). She takes some as soon as she gets her period, and then whenever she feels the slightest twinge. And she says it totally keeps them away. She doesn't change her diet in any other way.
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#29 of 31 Old 05-24-2010, 01:19 AM
 
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When I was a teenager I use to throw up and not be able to function they were so bad. It mellowed a little bit, but not much as I aged.

After having dd I switched to cloth pad and it's 90% better. I barely get a noticeable cramp for about 20 minutes when my period starts and that's it

If you're looking for cloth pads there are LOTS of WAHMs who make them. I have some from both of these mamas and LOVE them http://hyenacart.com/LittleLuxuries/index.php?c=3 & http://hyenacart.com/MotherMoonPads/

And of course here (they seem to be the gold standard) http://hyenacart.com/HomesteadEmporium/

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#30 of 31 Old 05-24-2010, 12:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcblondie View Post
I don't know if there's science to back it up but since I started taking b6 my cramps have been sooo much lighter. They used to be debilitating.
Same here. I have passed out from the pain it has been so bad at times. B6 has helped me trememdously. I only wish I had figured it out sooner, would have eliminated lots of suffering!
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