There's nothing quite like waking up in the middle of the night feeling like your uterus is attempting to escape, or having it batter your abdomen in the middle of a particularly brutal workday. And though Advil and Midol are usually good methods of relief, there are also some drinks to help with your period cramps and serve as a balm to your screaming ovaries when the hormones declare war.
"Right before your period, the cells forming the lining of your uterus begin making prostaglandins," which are hormone-ish chemicals that have to do with your body's inflammatory response, Joyce Faraj, PhD, RDN, CDN, a nutritionist at Mountainside, a substance use rehabilitation center, tells Bustle. "During your period, the prostaglandins are released as cells break down in the lining. The prostaglandins are also involved in constricting the blood vessels in the uterus and triggering uterine muscle contractions. The more prostaglandins you have, the more severe your menstrual cramps are likely to be."
First, though, let's take a minute to reflect on what NOT to drink when cramps hit. Dairy, it turns out, is not much of a salve, thanks to its high levels of arachidonic acid, which can actuallytrigger cramps (no, thanks). Skip milk, or substitute for a non-dairy alternative instead. Carbonated drinks and too much caffeine can also screw with your system, so limit your soda and coffee intake or stay away entirely if you can. And, sadly, alcohol is also not recommended during your time of the month, not just because it prolongs cramps (which it does, since it lowers magnesium levels) but also because it can increase your estrogen and testosterone levels and make you irregular, which in the long run, can also make your cramps worse. So #blessed to have a uterus.
But it's not all bad! Teas and other warm liquids help soothe the pain, as do green drinks, smoothies, and most importantly, water. Here's what to turn to when the aches kick in, and note that if you're looking for a cramp-busting snack to pair with your drink, we've got you covered.