According to a study by the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), the discomfort caused by the menstrual period affects 80% of women in their reproductive phase.
Among the most common discomforts is menstrual colic, a pain in the pelvic area, which can be classified as mild, moderate or severe.
In order to reduce this pain, certain precautions and habits can be taken to help alleviate the symptoms and the intensity of the crises. Check out what they are
- 1 What causes menstrual cramps?
- 2 How to naturally alleviate colic and PMS?
- 3 What foods to consume?
What causes menstrual cramps?
Also called primary dysmenorrhea, menstrual colic is a pain felt below the womb by some women during the days leading up to the start of the cycle (premenstrual colic) and in the first days after menstruation.
This is due to the release of prostaglandin, which is a chemical signal similar to hormones.
This substance induces uterine contraction so that the endometrium (the film that lines the uterus) breaks and menstrual bleeding occurs.
Menstrual colic is part of the group of uncomfortable feelings due to premenstrual tension (PMS), which usually appears 10 days before the start of menstruation.
In general, menstrual cramps can be classified in two ways:
- Primary: when it occurs due to an increase in prostaglandin;
- Secondary: when it comes from other diseases that affect the female reproductive system, such as endometriosis, pelvic tumors, fibroids, cervical stenosis, among others;
To know what type of menstrual cramps you are experiencing, it is necessary to be aware of the variation in intensity.
Because if it is primary, it is expected to last between 12h to 72h that precedes and starts menstruation.
However, if the colic is secondary, it can last for the same time, however, the pain usually gets stronger with the passing of the hours (leaving the woman even unable to perform any common everyday activities).
Therefore, it is important to consult the gynecologist frequently, to verify that menstrual cramps do not come from more serious complications and thus guarantee well-being.
How to naturally alleviate colic and PMS?
Some symptoms of PMS, such as cramps, muscle tension, headache , tiredness , irritation, breast pain, among others, can be relieved through actions taken during and before the menstrual cycle. For example:
Taking care of food to keep it balanced and healthy is essential at any stage, but during the menstrual cycle it is even more important.
During PMS, some nutrients in the body such as vitamins and minerals fall in the body, causing symptoms.
Therefore, what is eaten during this period can help to relieve or intensify some PMS symptoms, due to the substances present in food. Thus, it is important to pay attention to what is consumed so as not to aggravate discomfort.
However, it is not necessary to make any dietary restrictions, only to consume some items in moderation, mainly industrialized products that are rich in sodium and sugar, and that can increase inflammation and swelling in PMS.
In addition, substances such as caffeine (causes irritation and affects sleep) and alcohol (increases hunger and can cause dehydration) should also be consumed without excess.
Regular physical exercise is an excellent habit to reduce the pain caused by colic attacks.
This is because exercises, mainly aerobic, such as running, swimming and cycling, help to strengthen the abdominal muscles and also release hormones that provide a sense of well-being, such as endorphins.
These hormones promote the relief of recurrent PMS symptoms such as inflammation and irritability, improve the quality of sleep and the woman’s disposition during the menstrual cycle.
However, it is necessary to respect the limits of the body, doing exercises in moderation and establishing breaks between them, so that there is no complication.
One of the most frequent symptoms during premenstrual tension is physical tiredness due to cramping, muscle pain and headache.
Therefore, it is important to take a break from some daily activities that require more concentration to be performed, since some symptoms can hinder this moment.
These small interruptions help in the recovery and physical relaxation, in the reduction of migraine attacks , colic and in the relief of other symptoms caused by the hormonal alteration that occurs during this phase.
In addition, having a good night’s sleep is essential for revitalizing and maintaining body functions, even more so during this period.
During the period of premenstrual tension, it is common for women to be more sensitive and susceptible to stress crises, due to hormonal changes that cause various discomforts.
Therefore, it is important to do activities that are pleasant, relaxing and that improve the mood, such as reading a book, meditating, listening to music, watching movies, among other practices.
Hot water bag
The hot water bag is an excellent way to relieve pain in the pelvic area caused by uterine contraction.
This is due to the analgesic effect (due to the heat) that it provides that can relax the region below the womb and relieve menstrual cramps.
Therefore, it is efficient to have one always within reach for those moments. Some of the options that can be found in pharmacies or online platforms are:
- Ortho Pauher Hot Water Bag;
- Thermal Bag Termolar Termobag ;
- Mercur Hot Water Bag ;
- Clink Water Bag .
The average value of hot water (or thermal) bags ranges from R $ 20 to R $ 50.
What foods to consume?
There are no rules regarding what to consume or not to consume during the menstrual cycle, being recommended only to have a balanced and nutritious diet.
However, some foods contain properties that help provide greater comfort at this stage. These foods are:
Red fruits like cherry, strawberry, blackberry and blueberry are good options for the menstrual period, as they are rich in antioxidants, such as flavonoids, anthocyanins, lycopene and resveratrol that help to relieve some symptoms.
For example, inflammation in the pelvic area due to the release of prostaglandin, and the retention of fluid in the body that causes swelling in the legs.
They can be consumed with yogurts, in jellies, juices, among other forms.
A diet rich in green leaves and vegetables such as kale, broccoli, watercress, parsley, cucumber and others is also able to help reduce discomfort caused during the period of premenstrual tension.
This group of foods contains micronutrients like vitamin A, C, E, K and the B complex that help reduce inflammation. There is also the presence of mineral salts such as iron, which is important due to blood loss during menstrual flow.
In addition, green vegetables and vegetables have soluble fibers that promote greater satiety and help control hunger (which is usually high during this period).
Carrot, pumpkin , papaya, apricot, tangerine, among other orange fruits and vegetables contain substances called carotenoids (beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and beta cryptoxanthin) that are pro-vitamin A.
Vitamin A is not only important for healthy growth, eye health and to prevent infections, it also has an anti-inflammatory action, benefiting the reduction of inflammation in the pelvic region.
Therefore, including orange foods in the diet is a way to relieve cramps during the menstrual period.
Hard-shell seeds such as walnuts, almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia, sunflower seed and flaxseed, among others, are part of this food group.
Oilseeds are beneficial for menstrual colic because they are a source of fatty acids (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and properties with anti-inflammatory action, which act in the relief of muscle pain and physical recovery.
In addition, they are rich in mineral salts such as zinc, potassium, manganese, iron, copper and selenium which are present in lower levels in the woman’s body during the menstrual cycle, requiring the consumption of more foods containing these substances.
The presence of calcium in the body usually decreases during the menstrual phase, so consuming foods derived from milk, such as cheese, yogurt, butter, curd, helps in replacing this mineral.
In addition, calcium helps to reduce swelling, which is a very common symptom during this period.
In addition to being excellent sources of protein , fish especially those classified as fatty (salmon, sardines, tuna, etc.) are rich in good fats like omega 3, and are easier to digest compared to red meats.
These good fats, also called fatty acids, help reduce abdominal inflammation and help decrease muscle pain, common during menstrual cramps.
Chocolate is perhaps the most desired food by women during the period of premenstrual tension, and it is not by chance, since they contain relaxing properties such as amino acids (tryptophan) and theobromine (an alkaloid that belongs to the caffeine family).
In addition, it contains magnesium, a mineral that, due to its low amount in PMS, causes changes in mood and tiredness.
Thus, when chocolates are consumed, a feeling of pleasure and happiness is created in the body.
However, it is necessary to eat in moderation and opt for chocolates that have 70% cocoa in the formulation (as they contain more magnesium and less sugar).
The banana is one of the most nutrient-rich fruits as it contains vitamins A, C of the B complex and minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese and iron.
In addition, it has insoluble fibers, which take longer to be digested, and give greater satiety, being very beneficial during PMS, in which it is common to feel very hungry.
The B vitamins present in the fruit, especially B6, which acts on the nervous system, provides relief from abdominal pain.
In addition, bananas are also a source of energy for the body, as they contain natural sugars such as fructose, glucose and sucrose.
Being a cereal with several minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper and manganese) vitamins (mainly vitamin E ) and soluble fibers, oats are an excellent item to include in the diet during PMS.
It provides relief from various symptoms due to its antioxidant action, such as inflammation in the pelvic region, swelling in parts of the body and muscle pain.
In addition, as a source of fiber, it helps to reduce hunger and prevent constipation (which is usually caused in some women during this phase).
Honey is a natural sweetener option that provides several benefits to the body as it has a high concentration of nutrients and helps in the release of positive substances for well-being.
Like serotonin , a hormone that regulates mood, appetite, sleep, sensitivity, among other activities. Therefore, consuming honey helps to calm down and have a greater sense of comfort during PMS.
However, honey will only promote these benefits if it is consumed in moderation.
Fennel tea is conducive to stressful situations that cause swelling and inflammation in the body, as with many women due to PMS.
Therefore, using this herb that has soothing properties helps in relieving headache and menstrual cramps.
In addition, it also has a diuretic capacity, providing the reduction of the swelling that appears in some cases.
Although PMS is normal and discomfort is common, adopting healthy habits to ease discomfort and being more willing to do daily activities is always a good alternative.
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