Dysmenorrhea (Painful Periods)

Periods are not meant to be painful debilitating events that knock us out for 1 week a month. If this is the case, it is worth looking into and figuring out a treatment plan that is unique to you and addresses the root cause of your dysmenorrhea.

There are two main categories when looking into dysmenorrhea. Primary– meaning that painful menstruation is not due to physical abnormalities or identifiable pelvic pathologies. And Secondary– meaning the cramps can be attributed to a pelvic condition (endometriosis, fibroids, IUD present, ovarian cysts etc.)

It is important to identify the cause in order to have a targeted treatment plan. Today I want to talk about some basic treatment options for Primary dysmenorrhea.

  • Diet– eating a healthy whole foods diet rich with vegetables, whole grains, fruits and healthy fats and proteins. A healthy diet provides your body with the nutrients it needs to reduce inflammation – ie. antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and doesn’t worsen inflammation the way sugars, refined carbohydrates and trans fats do.
  • Exercise– even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing while on your period, some light movement as simple as going for a walk or yoga can do wonders for your pain. Exercise releases endorphins which decrease pain and improve mood, as well as exercise promotes blood flow and circulation to reduces pelvic stagnation that can be one of the contributing factors to the severity of the cramps.
  • Herbal Medicine– a custom combination tincture with cramp bark, ginger, valerian and black cohosh taken leading up to your period can work wonders and reducing cramps
  • Supplements– I like to use Magnesium and Vitamin B6 together intravenously for acute relief (see my other instagram post about that). For long term and keeping prevention of future cramps in mind, supplements that help balance hormones/ support your liver to clear out extra estrogen can be useful. Vitamins and minerals I would consider using would be: DIM, I3C, Vitamin B complex, NAC, Vitamin C, Magnesium and Calcium.

These are GENERAL treatment options for primary dysmenorrhea. It is important to check in with your primary care provider and get your dysmenorrhea properly worked up as to avoid missing potential fibroids/cysts/endometriosis etc. that could be the cause of dysmenorrhea, so treatment can then be more targeted to address the cause of your painful periods. However, I do want you to take away from this post – severely painful and debilitating cramps are NOT normal, and don’t brush it off as “just period pain”. You can DRASTICALLY improve your quality of life if you bring this to your naturopathic doctor or primary care physician and find a treatment plan that works for you!

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