Period Cramps are a common problem and more often than not, they can be dealt with over the counter pills, hot bags, some amazing comfort food. Menstruation as a process seems so complicated and until very recently, the whole topic was considered to be a taboo. We have so many questions and doubts that always remain unanswered. Everyone has ways to deal with their period cycle but it’s time we switch to exploring herbal solutions to manage period cramps. We sat down with Dr. Pratibha to break down period myths and answer some of the most commonly asked questions by women.

1) How do you deal with severe bloating during periods?

Bloating is a common early symptom of menstruation that many women experience, a very common symptom of Pre Menstrual Syndrome. Symptoms of PMS can begin a week or two before your period starts. It may feel like you’ve gained weight or like your abdomen or other parts of your body are tight or even swollen. To manage bloating:

● Follow a low-sodium diet.

● Eat warm and freshly prepared meals, light to digest like kichidi, or include soups (including fruits, vegetables, whole grains).

● Dink warm water infused with fennel, cinnamon, cumin seeds.

● Avoid spicy foods, skip caffeine and alcohol limit processed foods.

● Include gentle exercise in your routine.      

2) My cramps are absolutely horrible. I feel like when I went on birth control got a bit better but once I stopped, the cramps returned. I generally take cyclopam and hug a hot water bottle. Are there any natural solutions to manage the pain?

It is not just about the time during the periods, it’s about how you treat yourself on the other days too. A healthy routine and lifestyle habits maintain hormonal balance and reduce period cramps. A balanced diet, adequate sleep, and an exercise routine is very important. Always remember not to suppress urges, like urination, defecation, and sneezing. Applying heating pad, hot water bath, mild exercise, a gentle massage with coconut oil on the abdomen will help. Ensure your bowel movements are regular.

Keep yourself hydrated. Warm drinks with easily available ingredients like cinnamon, ginger, fennel or buttermilk with a pinch of asafetida helps.. Cinnamon consists of constituents that are reported to reduce the production of prostaglandins. Include Cinnamon in warm drinks or tea.

You can try QDEE mouth dissolving tablets which consists of cinnamon and licorice to reduce cramps. It’s an on the go tablet which doesn’t require water. Its safety and efficacy has been evaluated and clinically tested.

3) Can stress also worsen menstrual cramps? Especially if you’re leading a very stressful lifestyle?

Yes, it has been studied that woman who felt stressed two weeks before the beginning of menstruation were two to four times more likely to experience moderate to severe symptoms than women who did not feel stressed. Stress may alter ovarian hormones, or the stress hormone cortisol may have a direct impact on PMS. It can be difficult to control the work pressures/stress or demands of current lifestyle but trying out several relaxation techniques from meditation to a daily bout of yoga will help.

4) Can I exercise during periods? Will it help to reduce period pains?

Exercise can be very beneficial to you and will help you have a healthy menstrual cycle. Overall activity and exercise help regulate the menstrual cycle and flow, which also may equate to less cramping, it is also shown to reduce the PMS symptoms. A slow walk or breathing exercise or just simple stretching is suggested on days of heavy flow. Evidence shows that low-intensity exercise such as yoga or high-intensity exercise such as aerobics may provide a large reduction in the intensity of period pain compared with not exercising. Regular exercise also reduces stress levels. It is recommended to exercise at least 3 days in a week. Exercising regularly for 30 mins a day for 5 days in a week has a lot of benefits.

5) Is there any way to reduce the bleeding during periods? Will it be like lesser the bleeding, less painful the cramps will be?

First of all you will have to make sure if your bleeding is really heavy, if it meets any of the following criteria.

● Soaking through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours.

● Needing to use double sanitary protection to control your menstrual flow.

● Bleeding for longer than a week.

● Passing large blood clots.

● Restricting daily activities due to heavy menstrual flow.

● Symptoms of anemia, such as tiredness, fatigue or shortness of breath.

If you are facing any of these above problems then I recommend you visit doctor. Wholesome dietary habits are recommended if you have heavy flow. Include vegetables like ash gourd, snake gourd, amaranth, fruits like pomegranate, raisins, dates, including Indian gooseberry (amla) in your diet will help. Include at least  ½ tsp of ghee in your diet everyday

6) Why do I feel constipated just before my period? And also, is it normal to have a 27/28 day cycle?

Menstrual cycle is the result of continuous changes in the hormonal levels during the different phases. It’s mainly the variations in progesterone and estrogen levels which might lead to constipation. This condition can be tackled. Try adding one to two servings of fibrous fruits, vegetables, or whole grains to your diet each day. Include raisins in your diet. Increase your water intake. Drink warm water can make your stool softer and relieve constipation.

Exercise regularly. A simple walk will also help. You can include mild laxatives.

7) Are period cramps hereditary? My mother suffered from period cramps, are my cramps associated with my mother’s history? And as we turn older do period cramps reduce?

To date, the genetic basis of pain severity for dysmenorrhea (medical term for pain associated with menstruation) remains largely unknown. More studies are required to establish this. However, period pain can be managed by following a healthy lifestyle habit. Yes, if you had primary dysmenorrhea (period pain without any underlying disease or condition) with age it may reduce.

8) My periods are super painful and it’s difficult to travel during that time. Is it advisable to pop a pill to push the periods for a few days?

Wanting to delay periods must be a conscious decision a woman makes if she feels her cycle hits an inconvenient time which makes it difficult for her to manage her periods. It is safest when done with the help of a medical practitioner, who would be able to guide you to the best options and manage your menstrual cycle in a better way. However it’s not recommended to alter the menstrual cycle on a regular basis, instead you can tackle your pain and continue with your routine by following the suggested regimen.

You can try QDEE mouth dissolving tablets which consist of cinnamon and licorice to reduce cramps. It’s an on the go tablet which doesn’t require water. Follow the instructions on the label for the dosage. Its safety and efficacy has been evaluated and clinically tested.

9) Why do I throw up during my periods? Is it normal?

It’s common to experience nausea during your period. Typically, it’s caused by hormonal changes that occur during your menstrual cycle. As a side effect, these hormonal changes can make you feel nauseous during your period, sometimes leading to even vomiting, and headaches. You can make some dietary changes to help you with nausea. Avoid fatty or spicy foods, opt for small portions of light liquid diet. stay hydrated. Ginger is one herb which is well researched and can help to relieve nausea. A warm drink consisting of ginger can help. Relieving the cramps may also relieve your nausea. Cinnamon consists of constituents that are reported to reduce the production of prostaglandins. Include cinnamon in warm drink or tea.

10) Is it safe to use painkillers? And what about sugary foods? Is there a specific diet you should intake to feel the ease?

● The studies show that indiscriminate use of NSAIDs (Non-Steriodal  Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) can have side effects. Prolonged use of NSAIDs and overdose of these NSAIDs without consulting the doctor will have side effects. So consult your doctor before taking pain killers. I would recommend trying herbal solutions like Q DEE cramps mouth dissolving tablets which consist of cinnamon and licorice to reduce cramps. Cinnamon consists of constituents that are reported to reduce the production of prostaglandins, its an on the go tablet which doesn’t require water. It quickly dissolves in mouth and starts acting. Follow the instructions on the label for the dosage. Its safety and efficacy has been evaluated and clinically tested. Every individual is unique, and you can try and follow methods to manage cramps whichever  suits you best and gives you relief.

●      Yes it’s recommended to avoid sugary drinks if you are suffering from period cramps. A healthier lifestyle will help manage cramps better. It is not just about the time during the periods, it’s about how you treat yourself on the other days too. During periods it’s always advised to consume: Light food, which is digested easily, served warm, mushy foods, like easy to digest grain porridges/ Kichadi/ soups of green gram or lentils barley, rice with vegetables. Try adding spices, such as ginger, cardamom, saffron, cumin, coriander, fennel, and cinnamon; Include at least half – 1 tsp of ghee in your diet. .  Include seasonal fruits and vegetables .

Drinking warm water helps soothe menstrual flow by reducing abdominal cramps. Avoid oily food, junk food, processed foods, deep fried, caffeine, alcohol, smoking. Reduce salt intake. Sleep well. Getting enough sleep is very important.

11) Is it normal for periods to smell? If not, how can we ensure our lady parts smell great during periods too?

Sometimes, unusual smells during a period are related to unhygienic practices. Generally, period blood smells are not noticeable to other people. Good hygienic practices can combat unwanted odors. Additionally, during menstruation, you should change the sanitary pads once in 4 -6 hours even if the bleeding is light.

12) Does period pain decrease as we age?

Primary dysmenorrhea or cramps without any underlying issue is usually severe around the time a woman starts getting her period and lessens with age. Women who experience primary dysmenorrhea are also more likely to have cramps only during the first couple of days of their periods, when menstrual bleeding starts. It’s also seen that primary dysmenorrhea may decrease after childbirth or with age.

13) I have irregular periods, sometimes it’s heavy flow for only 3 days and sometimes it’s light flow but it lasts 7-8 days. How can we regulate our menstrual flow?

A healthy routine and lifestyle habits maintain hormonal balance. As per Ayurveda the different phases of the menstrual cycle are governed by specific dosha. It’s always important to maintain the equilibrium and balance to have a healthy menstrual cycle. So a proper regimen along with internal medications can help you regulate your menstrual flow. Try following a healthy diet, exercise regularly, sleep well. With proper menstrual history and examination an Ayurveda expert can guide you better.

14) Since my last period, I developed painful acne on one side of my face that hasn’t gone away and is extremely painful to the touch. How can I avoid this?

Acne is caused due to overproduction of sebum due to hormonal changes. This sebum blocks the pores and causes acne. Continue cleansing. You can use a mild cleanser everyday and mask once a week. This might help. However consult a health care professional if the acne doesn’t reduce.

We’re hoping this article helps solve all your doubts about periods and helps you deal with your period in a better way. The methods mentioned in the article may work for some people and may not for others. Every body works differently and if your symptoms or pain cannot be managed by home remedies or over the counter pills, you must visit a doctor.

This blog is in partnership with Himalaya Wellness Company.