For some, menses is a vague annoyance tethered to the wonder of fertility. For others, it’s a debilitating shitshow accompanied by cramps so blindingly painful that you pass out in line at the DMV, hit your head on the cement-backed linoleum and come to be surrounded by EMTs.
Unfortunately, I live squarely in that second scenario. Fortunately, I have some tips.
1. Magnesium. Holy game-changer. For me, taking magnesium daily more or less eradicated menstrual cramps. I like Natural Calm because it gets me to drink more water, but if you can get your 300-400mgs/day through foods like nuts, dark leafy greens, fish, and grains, even better. Just know it takes a few weeks to kick in before changing your life forever.
2. Skullcap. Either in tea or tincture form, as an antispasmodic skullcap lessens the intensity of cramps, and as a nervine it’s calming, although high doses can make some a bit loopy. The herb doesn’t quite silence cramps like NSAIDs, but it’s a close second.
3. Aleve. Or any NSAID (non-steroid anti-inflamatory drug). Try taking Aleve the day before your period starts to avoid the onset of cramps. Not a break-through suggestion, but because NSAIDs build up in your system you can skirt the initial discomfort with a little forethought. A word of caution, though, NSAID overuse can lead to gastrointestinal issues.
4. Stretching and exercise. Though less appealing than the fetal position, movement increases blood flow to combat cramping. Light yoga can relax muscles, while amped up activity is a great distraction. It only takes a few minutes of running to forget I’m supposed to be wallowing next to a heating pad.
So, those are the top performers in my arsenal. In the spirit of balanced reporting, however, I must include Charlotte’s well-researched favs:
Apply a small animal. From WikiHow “…it may help to put a cat or other small animal on top of wherever you have cramps. Make sure the animal is calm. The vibrations of a purring cat help to relax your muscles, while the gentle heat gets rid of cramps.” I have to wonder what other small animals are resting on people’s uteri thanks to WikiHow, but whatever works.
Orgasm. According to the internet, le petit mort can release muscle tension thereby easing cramps. By all means, take things into your own hands if your partner’s not up to the task. Even if your cramps don’t improve (mine seemed to temporarily get worse before getting better), your mood likely will.
Your turn! Tell me tell me tell me: what are your go-to remedies for cramps and PMS? Anyone try cramp bark tincture??
– By Kate Barnett, who sincerely and sternly reminds you to see a doctor before starting any course of treatment, and also suggests you schedule that yearly check-up now that you have health insurance again.