Period Cramps Suck: Here Are 5 Hacks That Make Them Better

Ever since I got my first period at 12, I’ve struggled with cramps.

By Meghan Dillon2 min read
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I went on birth control to stop them, but it made me anxious and depressed. I found that tracking my cycle was best for my mental and physical health, but I was still tired of popping ibuprofen for five days straight to relieve my cramps. Luckily, I’ve discovered there are plenty of natural ways to help ease period cramps.

1. Exercise According to Your Cycle

A few months ago, I downloaded 28, a free cycle-based wellness app and website that syncs fitness and nutrition to your cycle. The app breaks your cycle into four phases – menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal – and guides you through the best workouts and foods to eat during each phase. 

While following the workouts in the follicular, ovulatory, and luteal phases helped reduce cramping during my menstrual phase, the exercises given to me for the menstrual phase were game-changers. Many of them are low-intensity yoga workouts that help release tension in the abdomen and hips, relieving the muscle tension that causes cramps. Some of the stretches helped relieve tension (mainly in my hips) that I didn’t even know I had, so much so that I now use them almost every day to prevent a build-up of tension in my everyday life.

2. Eat According to Your Cycle

I also use 28 to help me eat according to my cycle. Similar to working out, the foods recommended to me in my follicular, ovulatory, and luteal phases made my menstrual phase easier, but the foods I ate during my menstrual phase really helped relieve my cramps. Some of my favorites are anti-inflammatory fruits like berries, dairy products (especially strawberry yogurt), dark chocolate, and almonds (dark chocolate-covered almonds taste heavenly during the menstrual phase).

3. Drink Raspberry Leaf Tea

I’ll be the first to admit that raspberry leaf tea isn’t my favorite tea in the world, but it’s helped with my cramps. Though the evidence behind raspberry leaf tea helping period cramps is circumstantial, enough women have claimed the benefits of it for me to recommend it to every woman who struggles with period cramps. One reason why raspberry leaf tea helps with period cramps is that it’s high in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which are all nutrients needed for hormonal health and the reduction of cramping.

Potassium, magnesium, and calcium are all nutrients needed for hormonal health and the reduction of cramping.

4. Try Supplements

If you struggle with period cramps, you might be deficient in nutrients like magnesium and calcium. It’s smart to eat foods high in magnesium, like avocados, bananas, and leafy greens, and foods high in calcium, like cheese, yogurt, and almonds, but it doesn’t hurt to get your levels checked by your doctor. After your doctor runs blood work, they can tell you if you’re deficient in either nutrient and recommend a daily supplement dosage to help reduce your monthly cramps.

5. Manage Your Stress Levels

Cramps can be stressful, but there’s also a good chance that stress is one of the reasons behind your cramps. According to GoodRx, high-stress levels can increase unpleasant period symptoms like cramps, nausea, bloating, and even irregular periods. This occurs due to high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), but there are ways to reduce your stress levels to avoid this.

If you track your cycle (which you should be), you’ll know when your period is coming and when to start taking it easy. Make it a habit to destress in the days leading up to your period through light exercise, deep breathing, and other self-care methods that work for you. It takes work and some trial and error, but it’s worth it to figure out what lowers your stress levels for less painful periods.

Closing Thoughts

Period cramps are not only annoying, but they can disrupt your day if they’re painful enough. While it may be tempting to pop ibuprofen to relieve the pain or ask your doctor about starting birth control for relief, there are plenty of natural (and healthier) ways to relieve period cramps and make your periods less stressful. Whether it’s through exercise, nutrition, or stress management, natural ways to relieve period cramps will make your periods and your life easier.

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