Many ladies experiencing dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) have asked this question over and over again, “Should I take pain relievers for cramps?” Some have received “Yes” but have been battling with the question “What then should I take? Some have received “No” for an answer with the reason being that painkillers affect the period either reducing the flow or abruptly ceasing it, but how true is this?
In this article, we shall be exploring menstrual cramps and addressing some vital questions associated with this phenomenon.
What are Menstrual Cramps?
Menstrual cramps are painful sensations in the lower abdomen and back that range from dull and bothersome to excruciating and unbearable experienced by a lady before or during menstruation. Sometimes associated with dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, headache, and diarrhoea.
It is worthwhile to note that not all cramps are normal as some could be due to some underlying problems. This is fundamental knowledge to the question, “Should I take pain relievers for cramps?”
This classifies menstrual cramps into:
- A primary menstrual cramp that comes with the normal menstrual cycle and
- Secondary menstrual cramps that come due to uterine fibroid, pelvic inflammatory disease etc.
The latter must require adequate treatment beyond pain- relievers. The reason the above exposition remains basic and indispensable.
What Helps with Menstrual Pain?
Having laid an important foundation, it is essential to know what type of menstrual cramp it is, this here points to the importance of consulting a medical doctor to rule out whether it is primary or secondary.
Associated symptoms like foul-smelling discharge, previous history of itching and rashes in the vagina, and burning sensation are indicative of pelvic inflammatory disease which requires meticulous attention from requesting a vaginal swab for microscopic culture and sensitivity test to prescribing appropriate antibiotics to eliminate the organism.
In this case, handling the infection is tantamount to handling the menstrual cramp. Thus, seeking medical attention is very important. However, if it is primary, then the answer to the question; should I take pain relievers for cramps is a yes.
What Helps with Period Cramps Instantly?
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS e.g. Ibuprofen, piroxicam, meloxicam) or Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
How These Drugs Act
Menstrual pain occurs due to a chemical that is produced during that time called “prostaglandin”. This causes the uterus to tighten up. Throughout your menstrual cycle, the uterus, the muscle organ where a baby grows, contracts (tightens up). The uterus contracts more heavily during menstruation as more of this prostaglandin is produced.
When the uterus contracts (tightens up) excessively hard, it can press on adjacent blood arteries, cutting off the oxygen supply to muscular tissue. When a muscle loses its oxygen supply for a short period, it causes discomfort that comes with menstrual pain.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs act by preventing the production of Prostaglandin which is the main culprit. Acetaminophen (Tylenol or paracetamol) acts by blocking that pain transmission thus relieving pain although it is not as strong as NSAIDs because it does not affect prostaglandins directly.
Aside, from medications for primary menstrual cramps, there are other methods to employ to help get rid of cramps;
What to Do Instead of Taking Pain Relievers for Cramps
1. Applying Heat
Heat can help relax the muscles contributing to cramping, so applying heat to your abdomen or back can help relieve your pain.
Using a heating pad or soaking in a warm bath are great ways to ease period pain.
When you’re in pain, you may believe that the greatest thing you can do is relax and sleep. Physical activity, on the other hand, is a natural pain reliever. Easy anaerobic exercises you can do at home can help in this aspect.
Exercise causes the release of endorphins, which are substances generated by the body that assist suppress pain perception.
Furthermore, exercise is an excellent way to lower stress, which influences how you perceive pain.
3. Stress Management
Stress impacts your body in a variety of ways, including reducing your pain threshold (one’s limit to bear pain). Taking steps to relieve stress naturally can help you get rid of period cramps naturally. They include;
4. Taking an Adequate Diet
Food rich in vitamins and minerals also contributes to reducing period pain. Taking adequate fluid is also good. People who eat junk and refined sugars have experienced much more pain than those who do not.
Do These Medications Affect Menstrual Period in Any Way?
Before you decide; ” should I take pain relievers for cramps ” know that they affect you. Yes, it is very important to know that most drugs or medications have side effects. Most NSAIDs e.g. Ibuprofen can reduce menstrual flow by 28-49% and are very high doses can even halt it.
This is because one of their side effects is clot formation (i.e. they cause the blood to thicken). Also, the prostaglandin is what causes the Uterus to contract and bleed subsequently and this chemical (prostaglandin) release is affected by NSAIDs.
Aspirin on the other hand is a blood thinner and so can cause heavy flow. Other side effects such as Peptic ulcers, gastritis, and kidney disease (from long-term use of NSAIDs).
How and When Should I Take NSAIDs e.g. Ibuprofen
It is advisable to take NSAIDs before the onset of menses and continue for 1 to 3 days or the usual duration of painful symptoms. Patients with severe symptoms may begin taking an NSAID 1 to 2 days before the onset of menses.
Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium and paracetamol can be used.
Start taking the pain reliever at the beginning of your period, or as soon as you feel symptoms, and continue taking the medicine as directed for two to three days, or until your symptoms are gone.
- Tab. Ibuprofen 200mg three times daily with food
- Tab.Diclofenac 50mg morning and evening with food
- Tab.Naproxen sodium with food 500mg morning and evening
- Tab.Paracetamol 500mg three times daily.
There is also a need to try as much as possible to do away with medications during menstrual pain and to utilize the other method above.
The question”Should I take relievers for cramps?” have been the most challenging question for ladies with painful menstruation. This question is however only an umbrella to many other questions. The correct answer is “Yes”, and other aspects have been addressed in this article.
Let me know if I skipped your burning question in the comments.
Managing your work, family, and personal life, trying to find balance in the daily hassles you encounter can become overwhelming to your body and mind. In response, your body develops certain symptoms, these physical symptoms are collectively identified as signs of physical stress.
Stress is everywhere and it affects everyone, over 7 million Nigerians suffer from stress and stress-related issues. While a little stress is fine and can be beneficial, too much stress can affect your physical health negatively – to an extent, your life.
Stress affects both mind and body, however, for this article, we’ll be focusing on the signs of physical stress, its major causes, and how to manage and cope with these signs.
What Is Physical Stress?
Physical stress is a normal bodily reaction to changes or challenges whether they are real or perceived. When you experience such challenges, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to respond appropriately to the challenge. This reaction is known as the “Fight or Flight Response“.
Your bodily responses help you to adjust to respond appropriately to challenges. Physical stress can be beneficial to you when it alerts you of unpleasant situations or motivate you. A good example of when stress is beneficial is when you have an interview, a physical stress response will hello you to stay awake to prepare well. Physical stress can also be harmful to you when the challenges continue for an extended time without relief or relaxation.
Signs of Physical Stress
Physical stress affects your daily life, but because people manage stress differently, the physical symptoms of stress can be different in people. However, some symptoms have been identified to be common to physical stress:
When stress is left untreated for an extended period of time, it often becomes more life-threatening. And if still not treated, can develop serious physical health complications such as:
- Back pain
- Worsening asthma symptoms or any other chronic disease an individual has
- Increases risk of hypertension, stroke, and heart attack
Chronic Physical stress can affect your entire body by increasing the risk of certain diseases and reducing your quality of life.
What Are the Causes of Physical Stress?
As stated earlier, physical stress develops from our daily experiences and challenges. Now since people have different experiences and challenges and also react to them differently, the causes of physical stress in people also differ. An instance is, someone could be overwhelmed by a traffic jam while another turns on his car air conditioner and turn on music, making the experience less inconvenient.
Some factors able to develop physical stress could be what we are already used to but experienced with increased intensity or it could be a completely new challenging factor. Major causes of physical stress are streamlined as:
1. Financial Problems
When you find yourself feeling guilty after buying non-essential things, feeling anxious and worrying about money, and frequently arguing with loved ones about money, there’s a chance that your stress is financially caused.
Physical stress as a result of work is often characterised by frequent rapid heartbeat severe nervousness, sweaty or sweaty hands and legs when carrying out a specific project or assignment at work. Job dissatisfaction also plays a role here.
3. Personal Relationships
There are many causes of stress in personal relationships – social media inclusive. The natural urge to compare yourself with others can lead to the stress of feeling inferior or inadequate.
Abuse or control in a relationship, loss of a loved one, moving to a new home, lack of communication and not being able to spend much time with a loved one are other common stressors.
4. Daily Life Hassles
Day-to-day hassles are common to us such as forgetting your keys at work, misplacing an item, running late, and other common inconveniences. Normally, they are inconvenience you often look over, however, when they occur frequently or with increased intensity, they could become sources of stress for you.
How You Can Manage Physical Stress
There’s no way to avoid stress but you can manage its symptoms on your physical health by practicing some strategies that will help you maintain not just a healthy body but your mind as well.
Exercising, eating healthily, getting enough sleep, relaxing and other healthy living practices go a long way to help with the signs of physical stress.
Check out 10 Amazing Ways that Will Help You Relieve Stress Naturally.
While stress is natural and normal, when its intensity increases or duration is extended, physical and mental symptoms develop.
The physical symptoms of stress ultimately affect our health negatively, increasing our risk of diseases and reducing our quality of life. Nonetheless, some natural consistent practices can help manage the physical symptoms of stress.
How is physical stress diagnosed?
Most healthcare providers make use of questionnaires to understand the stress an individual is experiencing and how it affects their life. This is because stress is subjective, it is not measurable with tests, and only the person experiencing it can tell how it feels.
Healthcare providers evaluate physical symptoms that are related to stress such as high blood pressure and provide the appropriate care.
What happens to the body during physical stress?
Stress comes as a response to challenges or changes you experience. During Stress a chemical reaction occurs which is known as the Fight or Flight Response, this response triggers your autonomic nervous system which controls your heart rate, breathing, vision changes, and more. This response is also responsible for the signs of physical stress as listed above.
What are the effects of stress on our mental health?
Stress affects all areas of our lives, physical and mental. Stress affects the way we think (cognition) and the way we act (behavior). Common symptoms are; feelings of helplessness, inability to focus, loss of appetite and interest in activities once enjoyed, mental exhaustion, and constant worrying among others.
How do I avoid stress?
Stress is part of our lives, it cannot be prevented. However, they are daily life practices that help manage both physical and mental symptoms of stress.
Relaxing, exercising, maintaining a healthy diet, having enough sleep and rest, being positive and realistic, accepting that you can’t control everything, acknowledging the good times, and reaching out to a mental health expert are ways to manage stress.
When is the right time to reach out to a mental health provider?
It is important to reach out to a mental health expert immediately if you feel overwhelmed. A Mental Health expert will help you manage physical and mental symptoms of stress and help you go through your experience. Mental health professionals also give advice and develop techniques that will best address your problem.
Between work, family, school, and/or other commitments, it is hard not to get overwhelmed once in a while. Carrying out the daily activities of our life can become stressful and affect our mental and physical health, which in turn, affect our daily lives. It’s important to find time and relieve ourselves of those stresses, but before we discuss 10 ways to relieve stress naturally, what is stress?
What is Stress?
Stress is the response of our body to a challenge or demand. Stress can be caused by a range of experiences, from small daily hassles like taking care of a child to major ones such as divorce or job loss.
Our body responds to such stressful experiences in many ways, physically; as elevated heart rate and blood pressure, mentally; as thoughts and beliefs about the stressor. Emotions like fear and anger are other ways our body responds to stress. Stress can be positive (eustress), when it is from a positive experience like a responsibility as a result of promotion at work, and negative when it is from a negative experience such as traffic on your way to work.
How Do We Relieve Stress Naturally?
Stress is something we can hardly avoid, and sometimes helps us in our daily life – it helps us avoid danger and respond to threats quickly. However, exposure to stress for some time may lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression or difficulty in maintaining physical healthcare.
Since stress is unavoidable, there are means by which you can relieve yourself of stress naturally. They are:
1. Breathe – Meditate
While the phrase “take a deep breath” may sound like a cliché, It is the first step in taking control of your thoughts from the stress-thought train. Breathing slowly with ease helps you gather your thoughts and organise your possible actions.
Take three to five minutes to breathe in and out slowly and deeply. Whereas shallow-breathing causes stress, deep breathing oxygenates your blood and clears your mind.
2. Feed Well
Some people deal with stress by eating profusely and just about anything they can find. This might help at the moment but might add to the stress in the long run. Instead of stress-eating, take your time in selecting healthy foods and drinks. Healthy diets provide you with not just physical strength but also the mental energy your body requires in managing stressors.
3. Exercise Regularly
A regular workout is one of the best ways to relax your body and mind. Exercise improves your mood. However, it has to be often for you to feel its impact.
Moderate intense workout of up to 2 hours and 30 minutes of exercises such as brisk walks or fewer minutes of more intense exercises like jogging, swimming, or other related sports are helpful.
4. Stop Using Tobacco and Nicotine Products
People who use tobacco and nicotine products often say they use them to relieve themselves of stress. However, what all tobacco and nicotine products actually do is increase the stress level on the body.
Tobacco and nicotine have been associated with increased physical arousal and reduced blood flow and breathing which makes it difficult for our body to manage the stress we experience.
5. Set Realistic Goals
It is healthy to acknowledge that you cannot be 100% successful at all times. Your inability to achieve a task or expectations you have increases your risk of self-induced stress. Setting realistic and achievable expectations prevents us from the stress that comes with not achieving them.
6. Assert Yourself
Know that it’s okay to say “No”. Protect yourself from any demands on your time and energy that might cause too much stress to you. Instead of trying to please others by going the extra mile, only help when it doesn’t take a toll on your body and mind.
Related: After reading this, you will stop saying ‘yes’ to everything
When we experience stress, our muscles become tensed and exhausted. Loosening them by relaxing helps refresh your body and mind, thereby providing you with the energy you need to carry out activities of your daily life.
You could relax your muscles by sleeping well, stretching, enjoying a good massage, and taking a hot bath or shower.
8. Make Time for Hobbies
A good way to relieve stress is by engaging in activities that make us feel good. Taking just about 20-30 minutes every day to do what you love will help take your mind away from the stressors and help you relax. Hobbies that can help you relax include watching a movie, swimming, reading, writing, drawing, singing, cooking, playing games, and many others; basically any activity that makes you smile.
If you are unemployed in Nigeria, you stand a better chance to execute this well.
9. Avoid Stressors
Understand what are the biggest reasons why you get stressed, from your work, school, or family responsibilities. If you can figure out what your stressors are, try to avoid them or at least reduce them.
You can identify your major stressors by keeping a stress journal. Keep notes when you are most anxious or tensed, then attempt to lessen them.
10. Talk about Your Problems
Maintaining a good relationship with friends and loved ones are vital for a healthy lifestyle. Talking to a good friend about your stressors when you experience them is a good way to relieve stress. A reassuring voice, comment, or acknowledgement that you are not the only one experiencing such stress might be all you need to put things in perspective.
It is healthy to understand that stress is an unavoidable part of life that you should not ignore. Leaving stress unattended can cause serious physical and mental problems.
Also, it’s important to know that stress is manageable with the proper strategies and patience. Whether the stress you experience comes from your job, family, school, or even self-induced, it can be managed.
I hope this write-up was helpful to you. If it is, kindly leave a positive comment in the comments section.