Sometimes, it feels like your uterus and ovaries are staging a coup, doesn't it? 🙁
In the conventional world, many women turn to over-the-counter pain killers to relieve the pain of cramping. The birth control pill or IUDs are other, non-natural forms of managing cramping — by synthetically manipulating reproductive hormones, menstruation can be lighter, more regular, and even cramp-free. (The Pill isn't without serious consequences, however.)
I experienced severe cramps for the majority of my menstruating years, beginning when I was just a teenager. In fact, I often missed school if the first day of my period fell on a school day because I was in such pain and bleeding so heavily. Unfortunately, I started taking The Pill at 15 and experienced many of the consequences later on — like estrogen dominance, heavy bleeding, and ovarian cysts. You can read my whole story here.
Cleaning up my diet was the single best thing I did to reduce the discomfort of my periods. Without the vegetable oils, processed foods, and sugars, I gave my body a chance to heal from the inside out.
The next best thing I did was to switch from pads and tampons to a reusable menstrual cup (learn about natural feminine hygiene options here). Night-and-day difference in cramping, blood flow, and even length of my periods!
Now, I rarely have difficult periods. When I do, I know that something's off, and I discuss it with my naturopath.
First, Why Do We Even Get Cramps?
Cramping can happen at any time during a woman's cycle. The most common times for cramps are during ovulation (when an egg is released from an ovary and travels down the fallopian tube), during PMS, and during menstruation.
Cramps can be in the lower abdomen, more prominent on one side over the other, down the legs, and/or in the lower back. They hurt, they can be debilitating, and you can thank hormone-like substances called prostaglandins for them.
Immediately preceding ovulation, prostaglandins play a role in the inflammatory response that weakens the ovary wall so the mature egg can ovulate. Cramping during ovulation is typically on one side of the lower abdomen. So, if you ovulate from the right ovary and the egg travels down the right fallopian tube, you may experience cramping on the right side. Pain during ovulation is referred to as mittelschmerz.
If you're having cramps during the days leading up to menstruation and during menstruation itself, this is because approximately every 28 days, prostaglandins trigger the uterus to shed and expel its lining (when pregnancy has not occurred).
Prostaglandins actually make up the lining of the uterus and signal muscle contractions (similar to labor pains) so that the uterine lining detaches from the uterus and exits through the vagina.
So, what if you're a natural girl? You don't want to use over-the-counter medicines, and you especially don't want synthetic hormones circulating throughout your body! Does that mean you're doomed to a lifetime of menstrual cramps?
Not even close!
(By the way, serious cramping is a sign that something's wrong — a definite hormone imbalance, PCOS, endometriosis, or something else. If you regularly experience this type of severe cramping, please speak to a holistic healthcare practitioner.)
No More Cramps Essential Oil Roll-On
After experimenting on myself for years, I carefully chose these 3 essential oils: cypress, peppermint, and lavender.
Cypress essential oil is one of the Top 5 Essential Oils For Women. It is especially helpful for irregular or heavy periods, mood swings, and yep, cramps. Because of its physical and mental calming effect, it can stop the spasms and pain related to cramps.
Peppermint essential oil… is there anything this oil can't do?! It's cooling effect brings welcome relief, especially when applied to the area of the body that's cramping. So, I have often rubbed NEAT (undiluted) peppermint oil on my lower abdomen and back when I've had bad cramps. It's so helpful!
I formulated this No More Cramps Essential Oil Roll-On for the second type of cramps — the kind you get in the days leading up to your period and the first few days of the period itself.
Combine in a 15mL roller bottle:
To use, simply roll on wherever the cramping is — lower back, lower abdomen, thighs, or either side if cramping is related to ovulation.
Do you get cramps before or during your period? Have you found relief with essential oils?
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