Although we are already in the 21st century, menstruation is still a taboo topic in our society.
Because of this, many women hear whispers about this period and still do not know whether what has been said is true or a rumor.
An example of this is that old feeling that the winter months are also accompanied by more painful menstrual periods. But, is this true? And if so, why does it happen?
What is menstrual colic?
Menstrual colic is a pelvic pain that occurs during a woman’s period. Some also report this pain a few days before or after their menstrual period.
This discomfort is one of the main symptoms of this period, in addition to other signs such as headaches, feeling sick and feeling weak.
During ovulation ( the fertile period ), the body releases a hormone called prostaglandin, which is responsible for contracting the uterus in order for the organ to eliminate menstrual blood.
This can cause pain in the pelvic area that varies in intensity depending on each woman. In some situations they become disabling.
Menstrual colic can be primary or secondary. Primary type pains are those that occur since menarche (1st menstruation) and are caused by menstruation itself.
In secondary dysmenorrhea, the source of pain is other than menstruation. Discomfort can arise due to diseases such as endometriosis , for example.
What causes menstrual cramps?
Menstrual colic does not have a specific cause, but it is very much associated with the release of a hormonal substance called prostaglandin. It is primarily responsible for causing the uterus to contract so that it can eliminate the inner layer in the form of bleeding (menstruation).
This hormone, in general, acts as a chemical signal for cells that participate in the regulation of blood flow, inflammation and clot formation. Women with strong or constant cramps, in general, have higher levels of prostaglandin.
Of course, some factors contribute to this substance being released more intensely, making colic more intense. Meet some of them:
Some contraceptive methods can relieve pain, as is the case with certain contraceptives that, because they have hormones, calm the contractions of the uterus.
On the other hand, the copper IUD (Intrauterine Device) tends to increase blood flow and consequently bring more pain for this period.
When colic is caused or intensified by a contraceptive method, it is classified as secondary dysmenorrhea and tends to normalize when treatment is stopped.
To find out exactly if your contraceptive method helps to relieve or cause more cramps, talk to a gynecologist.
Complications such as endometriosis, polycystic ovaries and the presence of fibroids in the reproductive system can also increase colic.
In fact, these illnesses usually have some pain symptoms.
But then, how do you know if colic is normal or not?
Well, the first tip to know if the pains are due to menstruation or some other illness is to observe if they happen only during the menstrual period or at other stages of the month as well.
For example, having abdominal discomfort frequently and without menstruating is a warning sign to seek a gynecologist.
Does cold increase menstrual cramps?
The first thing we need to clarify is that there is no scientific evidence that cold can cause menstrual cramps. But it is known that when exposed to cold temperatures, the body becomes more sensitive to pain. That is, the sensation of pain caused by the cold during the menstrual period is greater.
For the release of menstrual blood, it is necessary for the uterus to contract. These contractions pressure the blood vessels causing the famous colic.
When the body is exposed to cold, these vessels narrow further, impairing circulation and causing the blood to receive less oxygen.
For those who still have doubts, let’s talk more simply: the cold does not cause colic (as far as we know), but low temperatures can accentuate this discomfort.
Does eating ice cream make colic worse?
Look, just because the ice cream is cold, it won’t necessarily cause colic. Some women tend to notice this relationship between ice cream and increased menstrual cramps. But in reality, it can happen because it is a sweet food.
In some cases, when eating this dessert, sugar can stimulate the production of the hormone prostaglandin which is responsible for the contraction of the muscles of the uterus.
Does cold water cause colic?
It depends. If the woman ingests the cold water, she tends to cause nothing, since the organism internally will heat her according to the body temperature. Now, if the woman, having her period, takes a shower with cold water or still makes cold compresses on the pelvic area, this can cause pain.
Of course, it is not a rule. There is no scientific evidence to link exactly one thing to another.
But, as already mentioned in the previous topic, colder temperatures tend to cause the uterus to contract, thus providing more pain.
What to do when you have menstrual cramps?
If the colic is quite severe, the ideal is to seek help from a gynecologist. Thus, self – medication (which can be dangerous to your health) is avoided and the causes of pain are assessed. Thus, the appropriate treatment (based on drugs, for example) will be indicated according to each situation.
If the pains are milder, there are some homemade tips that can help in some cases:
- Massage: making gentle movements under the abdomen helps to improve muscle tension. And you already know, the more “relaxed” the uterus is, the less pain;
- Hot water compress: they are famous and work because they promote the dilation of blood vessels, causing the blood to circulate with less pressure;
- Drinks: water and tea are recommended for this period. To taste, choose chamomile, fennel or calming plants;
- Rest: if possible, lie down in whatever way you feel most comfortable. One tip is to turn on your stomach, with your belly under a pillow, compressing your abdomen.
How to prevent menstrual cramps?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict how much menstrual cramps the woman will experience during her next period. But some attitudes can help to ease these discomforts in the long run.
One of the things that can be done to try to prevent colic is to take care of your diet. The tip is to eat foods that contain large amounts of vitamin B and iron such as fish and whole grains.
Foods high in fat and sugars, excess red meat and caffeine are examples of foods that increase the production of the substance responsible for the contraction of the uterus (prostaglandin).
Therefore, to avoid discomfort, prefer a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. If the desire for candy arises, which is typical of this time of the month, choose chocolates with a higher percentage of cocoa.
Another tip is to practice physical exercises. Contrary to what it seems, doing light physical activities when you are menstruating can help to ease menstrual pain.
This is because, when exercising the body, the well-being hormone is released: the endorphin. It can bring a sense of relief to the body and reduce colic.
It is worth remembering that if colic is very severe, the ideal is to seek gynecological guidelines to treat correctly according to each case.
The menstrual period may be accompanied by pain and discomfort. One of them is menstrual cramping which can be even stronger depending on factors such as lifestyle and outside temperatures.
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