I bet most of you don’t know that the medical term for painful menstrual periods is dysmenorrhea. Well, neither did I. Like many girls and women, I just refer to those aches and pains as menstrual cramps. As dreadful as they are that all of us would rather not have to suffer such discomforts, some form of menstrual cramps is considered quite normal. That’s why if you search around the web, you can find many recommendations on how to ease such menstrual cramps. Today, I’m not going to discuss all of them. Instead, I’m just going to zoom in on 5 tips on how to ease menstrual cramps by turning up the heat on your tummy area.
So how is it that heat can provide relief to menstrual cramps? According to researchers from University College London, temperatures over 40C (104F) switch on internal heat receptors which block the effect of chemical messengers that cause the body to detect pain. In fact, the research showed that heat could work like painkillers by relieving pain for up to an hour. Hence, heat does bring comfort to internal pain such as period cramps (source: BBC).
Now that we know why heat can help ease menstrual discomforts and pains, let’s look at the 5 tips:
1. Take a warm shower or dip in a hot tub
Okay, I can vouch for this. Taking a warm water bath definitely helps ease the menstraul cramps quite quickly. For one, you’ll feel a lot cleaner and two, a warm water bath is always therapeutic. Some people also recommend taking a dip in a hot tub if you have one at home and that’s probably quite nice if you can add some aromatic oils. I haven’t tried this but the first thought I have is, wouldn’t the tub change color very quickly? (o.O)
2. Drink a warm beverage
Drinking a cup of warm water or any of your favorite beverage definitely helps to soothe your tummy. Beverages like chamomile tea or red raspberry tea are supposed to help and some also recommend drinking a glass of warm milk. However, the opinion over warm milk is quite divided as some have said it helps them while others have said it worsens the cramp. Personally, I like the idea of drinking warm water but I try to avoid drinking too much tea as I find that drinking tea actually increases my blood flow.
3. Drink ginger soup or ginger tea
Ginger is widely known to have “warming” properties and is something highly recommended during times of discomfort during one’s period. A bowl of chicken ginger soup might help to make your menstruation cramps more bearable. You can also boil some ginger slices in water with sweet potatoes and sip on the drink throughout the day. If all these boiling sound too troublesome for you, then check out your supermarket for some ginger tea bags to steep in piping hot water.
4. Use a heating pad
If you have a heating pad or bag, you might want to use it on your stomach. Apply it to your lower belly area, below your belly button. You can also use it on your back if you’re having backaches. Alternatively, you can use a hot towel in place of a heating pad or bag.
5. Use a hairdryer
I read this tip in a Chinese book and thought it’s quite amusing but if you think about it, it makes sense since a hairdryer produces heat. Just switch on yours and turn it up to a bearable heat you can blow around your tummy area for a few minutes. This should work like the heating pad or bag to warm up your belly area.
If you’ve tried any of these tips, do let us know how it has worked for you. I would stress that these tips are all meant to bring relief to your menstrual discomforts but they would not totally eradicate the cramps. Also, these tips will probably work for you if your cramps are mild. However, if yours is debilitating, then these tips are probably useless. I know of some women who suffer such crippling pain during their period that they have to take a day off work each month. In such cases, it’s very likely that the pains these women experience are a result of more complicated medical disorders like ovarian cysts or endometriosis.