At times, period pain can feel unmanageable, no matter what you do to alleviate it. For those of us with endometriosis or other reproductive health issues, menstrual cramping can be even worse — to the point that it's literally unbearable. There's been a fair share of times that I can't control my period pain, despite how much Advil I take, or how many disposable heating pads I work through. Unfortunately, people with endo often undergo laparoscopic surgery to remove unhealthy tissue to manage pain, and some folks even require surgery to remove ovarian cysts that can also contribute to menstrual pain.
So what do you do if traditional methods of pain management don't work for you when you're on your period? Folks have tried everything from acupuncture (yes, with the little pins) to relieve their pain, to holistic methods such as aromatherapy, fish oil, and tea. However, one of the undisputed ways to alleviate discomfort on your period is through hormone therapy — aka, birth control methods such as the pill, or the Nuvaring. Managing period pain can feel like a game of trial and error, and as you get older and your body changes, what has helped before may not now. If you have debilitating pain, you may have to start to think outside the box, and beyond medication or heat. Here are seven unexpected ways people use to cope with period pain.
I know this may be the last thing you want to do, but exercise — especially cardiovascular exercise — is proven to help lessen menstrual pain. When your heart rate increases, your body releases endorphins that will give you a natural high, and therefore pain relief. So, if you can motivate yourself to go for run while on your period, it may be worth it.
Suppositories dubbed "weed tampons"...seriously
If you are lucky and live in Colorado or happen to be driving through the state while dealing with your time of the month, consider trying Foria Relief: this vaginal supplement has THC and CBD oil extracted from marijuana in it to help ease cramping. According to people who have tried the product, it works great.
When I have cramps or throbbing pain, I have a tendency to curl up into a ball on the couch and stay in the same spot for hours. However, this can be counterproductive, and cause even more pain. Sometimes, simply stretching or trying a couple yoga poses can mitigate menstrual pain. Balancing your need for rest and movement is key.
Change your diet
High-sodium foods contribute to water retention and bloating, which can make your period pain worse if your stomach already has a tendency to bloat. Try to avoid those foods (sad, I know!), and incorporate some of these nutritious snacks instead during your time of the month. It may not make a huge difference, but anything that helps, right?
Massage your stomach
A University of Miami Medical School study showed that women who had severe Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) showed a decrease in anxiety, depression, and pain after massage therapy. This can definitely depend on your personal preference, and how tender your stomach is, but it could be worth trying at home or visiting a professional massage therapist.
Similarly, you can try a pressure point routine
Acupressure (in the same vein as acupuncture) is an ancient form of Chinese physical therapy that involves pressing on certain parts of the body to alleviate pain. It is still often used by physical therapists today, and could help with menstrual pain. Here is a pressure point routine you can try during your next menstrual cycle.
Have an orgasm
Similarly to exercise, your brain releases endorphins you orgasm that can act as a natural pain reliever for cramps. Also, orgasms release your feel-good chemical dopamine, which is what leaves your body relaxed after sex. This is basically a win-win.
The ways to relieve period pain are not one-size-fits-all. Our bodies our unique, as is our reproductive health, so what has worked for others may not work for you. Hopefully, something from this list can you help you cope with pain during your time of the month.