During your period, the muscles of your womb contract and relax to help shed built-up lining. Sometimes you’ll experience cramps, which are your muscles at work. Some women and girls may experience nausea, vomiting, headaches, or diarrhea as well. Doctors aren’t sure why some women experience painful menstruation and others don’t. But some factors that are associated with more intense pain include: having a heavy blood flow, having your first child being under the age of 20, or just starting your period having an overproduction of or sensitivity to prostaglandins, a hormone that influences your womb.
A 2016 studyTrusted Source of 250 women found significant differences between period pain in women who maintained a healthy lifestyle and those who didn’t. Read on for specific diet and exercise tips. Diet Generally, a diet geared toward decreasing menstrual pain should be high in minimally processed foods, fiber, and plants. Give these foods a try: Papaya is rich in vitamins. Brown rice contains vitamin B-6, which may reduce bloating. Walnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds are rich in manganese, which eases cramps. Olive oil and broccoli contain vitamin E. Chicken, fish, and leafy green vegetables contain iron, which is lost during menstruation. Flaxseed contains omega-3s with antioxidant properties, which reduce swelling and inflammation.
See a doctor if: the pain consistently prevents you from doing day-to-day activities the pain worsens, or bleeding gets heavier, over time you’re over 25 and severe cramps are a new development OTC medication doesn’t work. For severe cases, the best way to get treatment is for a doctor to diagnose the cause of your menstrual pain. If you’re interested in learning more ways to relieve painful menstruation, check out this article on pain relief.
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