Naturopath and Founder of Endoempowered Melissa Turner takes us through her tips for lessening pain and discomfort during your period, we hope readers find something to incorporate into their self-care each month.
It totally sucks when you get your period, if you know that it means the next few days are going to be spent lying in bed or downing a bunch of painkillers. You likely dread it coming on. You might push through the pain and put on a brave face to the world. Smiling but inwardly grimacing. Inevitably, it creates an inconvenience on your life. It inhibits you in some way. For some women the level and intensity of this pain could also mean something more serious is going on like a condition called endometriosis.
After having dealt with period-pain for well over 15 years of my life and enduring years of endometriosis pain and eventually overcoming both, I thought I would share my top 5 tips so you can experience a pain-free period too.
Curcumin is a key constituent of the spice Turmeric which has recently gained some popularity in turmeric lattes. Turmeric drinks can offer some rich creamy goodness for the body due to the curcumin offering anti-inflammatory properties which helps reduce the triggers for the pain.
Curcumin offers additional benefits for women who do suffer with endometriosis as a treatment for endometriosis. Curcumin has been shown to trigger apoptosis in endometrial lesions. This means it helps those endometriosis cells shrink, instead of growing! Read about that study here. It is recommended to get curcumin in supplement form as it is more readily absorbed by the body.
2. Sage Tea
This simple tea, which you can make from a few leaves of home-grown sage has shown to support better fat metabolism. What does this have to do with painful periods? Our steroid and sex hormones depend on fats and oils to be produced and work optimally. Hormones play a vital role in the menstrual cycle and often when there is a hormone imbalance, there is also associated pain, heavy periods and other imbalances.
What is even more interesting about Sage Tea is its benefit on thinning the blood and removing coagulated blood. When we experience heavy, clotty, and sticky menstruation, this will also attribute to more painful periods. It is quite simply harder for your body to remove that menstrual blood. By thinning and support our blood, we allow for an “easier flow” and ultimately easier removal of the menstrual blood from the uterus.
*please check with your doctor if you are on blood thinning medication or the contraceptive pill if you plan on using Sage Tea consistently.
Particularly helpful for women transitioning from peri-menopause through to Menopause but certainly eases painful periods even prior to that time of life.
3. Deep Breathing Exercises
Typically, when we experience pain, we tend to go into anxiety riddled thought patterns. Or at least, this is what I would do when I suffered with intense period pain. I would rock myself through the pain while inwardly resisting and fighting with my body. Questions would rage through my mind like “how much worse is this going to get?”, “will this pain ever go away?”, “does this mean the endometriosis is getting worse?”.
This way of thinking unfortunately creates anxiety and stress in the body which puts the body into a sympathetic response mechanism. When we are in that state, we actually drive-up inflammation, pain and reduce healing and healthy digestion of foods.
The easiest way to snap out of those patterns and bring yourself into the opposite and beneficial state, called the parasympathetic state is to slow down breathing and to focus on your breath. When we bring the body into a parasympathetic state we allow for better digestion, encourage healing and lower inflammation, which is ultimately the key driver for pain.
4. Honouring your cycle
I like to look at the woman’s cycle in terms of seasons. Spring is the beginning and full of newness. I often find a strong desire to sort out a cupboard or spring clean the house during this time. Next, we have summer and it is filled with energy and getting stuff done. We feel a renewed sense of purpose and our goals feel attainable.
As we move into Autumn, the body slows down. We might become more withdrawn and want to retract into the comforts of home. Our period is our winter and this is a time for release but also reconnecting with yourself.
When we take these different times of the month into account, we recognise that we are different to men and that there are better times to do certain things in your cycle. It is also important to honour that our period is a big event. It is not something to take lightly and that we should give the body the time to go through that process without forcing it to exercise or push through something really big and stressful.
We are incredible. Our body is incredible. When we start listening and honouring, the body will reward you with health and longevity.
5. Avoid Sugar
Sugar and foods containing sugar have an inflammatory response on the body. When there is inflammation, the body will experience a heightened sense of pain, swelling and this will thereby contribute to more intense period pain than normal.
I know, it is common for many women to crave chocolate before their period – me included! This craving is very often linked more to a magnesium deficiency. Chocolate just happens to contain high amounts of magnesium. To get a better source of magnesium, create a smoothie with banana, nut butter, milk and raw cacao powder.
Cutting out sugar completely can feel incredibly difficult for some of us, so aim to just avoid it during that last week of your cycle – just before your period. Eliminating sugar for that last week can dramatically improve your period and particularly reduce period pain.
We have plenty more ideas and suggestions for you on how to reduce period pain and even more insights if you suffer with endometriosis.
Watch the Tea with Mel Series to get the full scoop on all 10 Period-Pain Relief Hacks or if you are struggling with endometriosis, check out our free 10 Pain Relief Strategies Guide.
Melissa Turner is a qualified Naturopath with a special interest in supporting women to better manage their endometriosis. She has come through her own journey in overcoming endometriosis and wants women to explore the incredible possibilities found in nature, nutrition, and mindset shifts.
You can read about her journey and explore her online programs at www.endoempowered.com.