Expert advice


for a comfortable menstruation

Approximately 75-85% of women experience unpleasant physical or psychological symptoms before or during their menstruation. 1 Mild to moderate symptoms related to the menstrual cycle in women of reproductive age are often collectively known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Menstruation discomforts can have quite an impact on your daily life. Don’t worry. There are many simple things you can do to help reduce your discomfort. Here are our top tips:

Relaxation

  • Helping the muscles in your abdomen and back relax can ease muscle pain, tension and cramps.
  • Place a covered hot water bottle against your belly or lower back. The warmth helps to relax your muscles and relieve pain.3
  • Treat yourself to a hot bath with chamomile, yarrow, parsley and/or rosemary.
  • Massage is relaxing because it eases muscle tension and can reduce your menstrual pain.

Food and drink

  • Ensuring you get the right nutrition during your menstrual cycle will make a difference to your energy level, helping you feel less tired and fatigued.
  • According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, many women experience changes in gastrointestinal symptoms during the menstrual cycle. Your bowels may work more slowly during menstruation. You may become constipated which can cause sensitivity in your large intestine, uterus and bladder. You feel bloated and uncomfortable. The solution? Sufficient roughage, fluids and exercise. When you think about increasing the fiber in your diet, consider vegetables and fruits as well as grains and pulses. Drink plenty of water and do some gentle exercise if you don’t feel like doing a full work out. 4
  • Because of the monthly blood loss, women need more iron than men. 2 The following foods are rich in iron: spinach, broccoli, lentils, cauliflower, beets, Chinese cabbage, sesame seeds, cashew nuts and dark chocolate.

Better to reduce or avoid:

  • Caffeine:research suggests that caffeine (in coffee, tea and cola) can exacerbate menstrual complaints.5,6,7 Drink no more than 4 cups of coffee per day. Even better: drink herbal tea or mineral water.
  • Salt: retains moisture, so it is sensible to reduce your intake if you feel bloated during your menstrual cycle. 8
  • Sugar: numerous studies show that processed and sugary foods cause extreme fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. 9,10 This can make menstraul complaints worse.
  • Stay active. if you can. This will help take the focus off your pain and increases blood flow to your muscles and nervous system. Gentle exercise helps ease emotional and physical discomforts.

We always advise you to consult your physician if your menstruation changes in terms of duration, severity or painfulness.

References

1. Yonkers, K. A., O’Brien, P. M. S. & Eriksson, E. Premenstrual syndrome. Lancet (London, England) 371, 1200–10 (2008).
2. World Health Organization. Guideline : Intermittent iron and folic acid supplementation in menstruating women. World Heal. Organ. 1–30 (2011). doi:10.1100/tsw.2010.188
3. Chaudhuri, A., Singh, A. & Dhaliwal, L. A randomised controlled trial of exercise and hot water bottle in the management of dysmenorrhoea in school girls of chandigarh, india. Indian J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 57, 114–122 (2013).
4. Dukas, L., Willett, W. C. & Giovannucci, E. L. Association between physical activity, fiber intake, and other lifestyle variables and constipation in a study of women. Am. J. Gastroenterol. 98, 1790–1796 (2003).
5. Gynecologists, T. A. C. of O. and. Premenstrual syndrome. Glob. J. Health Sci. 6, 121–125 (2014).
6. Mackay Rossignol, A. & Bonnlander, H. Caffeine-containing beverages, total fluid consumption, and premenstrual syndrome. Am. J. Public Health 80, 1106–1110 (1990).
7. Caffeine and Premenstrual Syndrome. 1980 (1987).
8. Ranawat, M. S. Water retention, Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Development. 1, 152–161 (2013).
9. O’Keefe, J. H., Gheewala, N. M. & O’Keefe, J. O. Dietary Strategies for Improving Post-Prandial Glucose, Lipids, Inflammation, and Cardiovascular Health. J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. 51, 249–255 (2008).
10. Westman, E. C. et al. Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism 1 – 3. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 86, 276–284 (2007).

Check specific symptoms for more useful tips!