Every woman experiences periods differently. While some sail through it, others hit several bumps along the way in the form of bloating, nausea, and probably the most difficult of them all -- menstrual cramps. Although popping a pill can be an easy way out, are there any ways to manage the excruciating pain during periods? India’s ancient holistic health and wellness system of Ayurveda might have an answer. And to know that, Onlymyhealth spoke to Dr Shruti Patil, who is a consulting gynaecologist and obstetrician at The Art of Living’s Sri Sri Ayurveda Hospital, Bangalore.
Firstly, it is important to note that some degree of period pain and pain during the menstrual cycle is normal, said Dr Patil. In fact, it indicates that you have a normal ovulatory cycle that is you are ovulating every month. It’s a sign of a normal period. However, if the pain is too much so as to interfere with your daily routine, then that is a problem that needs to be dealt with. Almost every woman experiences some pain when her menstruation starts. In teenage girls and women in their 20s, it generally happens due to some hormonal disturbances, which might result from stress and anxiety associated with menstruation. Some muscle(s) or uterus-related issues might also cause pain. These are manageable and can be treated with simple medication. In older women, period pain might result from certain underlying conditions like fibroid in the uterus, certain cysts in the ovary, or infection or certain structural defects.
Ayurveda On Menstrual Cramps
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Ayurveda attributes period pain to Vata dosha (disturbance). Vata is an element associated with air and is believed to be responsible for all the movement in the body. It can increase or get disturbed due to some lifestyle-related triggers such as no activity or too much activity, no exercise or too much exercise, lack of sleep, consuming very heavy food. Hence, “an erroneous lifestyle imbalances Vata,” the Ayurveda expert said. To deal with menstrual cramps as per Ayurveda needs a holistic approach. Here are some tips suggested by Dr Patil:
- Keep your gut clean
- Do not suppress your natural urges like the urge to urinate or defecate as these are important to have a balanced nervous system and a balanced reproductive system.
- Moderate exercise and yoga can also help with both preventing and treating the pain
- Avoid junk food
- Avoid eating dehydrated foods in large quantities such as dry cereals and chips. Packaged foods can be very harmful to the body.
- To deal with the pain, it is better to eat easily digestible and warm foods. Soups of fresh vegetables and moong daal are some good options you can try.
- Include milk, buttermilk, and ghee in your diet.
- Rest well during periods. It’s okay to be less active during this time.
- Sleeping well is extremely important not just for your reproductive but for your overall health. Hence have a proper routine for that and if you are facing any sleeping disturbances, consult a doctor to get them addressed. Abhyanga oil massage is something that can help you with this. There are several medicated oils available in the market. You can always consult an Ayurveda doctor to know which oil might be best for you.
- Having a warm oil massage every day and taking a warm bath are excellent to manage Vata.
And, if you have any growth in the uterus or any infection, then see an ayurvedic gynecologist and get it treated accordingly.
Also read: Study: COVID-19 Pandemic Stress Causes Irregular Menstrual Cycles
General Tips To Manage Period Pain
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First and foremost, get your underlying condition, which is causing the period pain, diagnosed and addressed. Although one cannot generalise on period pain tips as the underlying cause for everyone is different. However, there are certain things you can do:
- Try to strike a balance between activity, rest, exercise, food, and sleep.
- Be active throughout the day for a good night’s sleep.
- Taking a 20-30 minutes nap during the day is alright, but it shouldn’t be more than that as it might interfere with your night’s sleep.
- Meditation and rest are important to calm your nervous system down and to balance your hormones. Remember, well-balanced hormones are crucial for uterine health.
- Do mild to moderate exercises. A balance between cardio, strength training, and yoga might be good. Dr Patil recommends doing cardio and strength training 2-3 days a week and yoga every day.
- Food is considered medicine in Ayurveda. “I would suggest eating seasonal food and vegetables,” said Dr Patil. Also, eating raw food creates a lot of Vata problems in the body. The human body is not meant to digest a large amount of raw food and that eventually leads to indigestion and formation of ama or toxin in the body. That can be a root cause for many diseases. So, the ideal thing to do is to have fresh warm food and add a good amount of ghee and Indian spices to it so that it becomes easy to digest. Again, stay away from dehydrated, packaged, and junk food.
- Also, include a lot of variety in your diet.
- Although mild exercises can be helpful, avoid strenuous activity when bleeding heavily. Rest well.
Following these tips might help you deal with menstrual cramps. Equally important is to go for a health check-up to know the underlying cause for the pain and get it treated accordingly.
(With inputs from Dr Shruti Patil, consulting gynaecologist and obstetrician at The Art of Living’s Sri Sri Ayurveda Hospital, Bangalore)