Menstrual Cramps: Why they happen and how to Prevent them

Get the scoop on Menstrual Cramp Relief

Menstrual cramps are a natural and unavoidable part of being female. But what if you could avoid them? We're here to help, with advice on how and why menstrual cramps happen, as well as information about other ways to reduce your discomfort.

Why do I get Period Cramps?

There are several reasons why menstrual cramps happen.  Many people will start to notice period cramps during the first year after the first period [1].  Over time they may become more and more frequent and are often caused by an excess of prostaglandins, which are biological components released by the body as the uterine lining is to be shed [2].   This excess is often responsible for the sudden cramps, spasms and pain often felt in your abdomen, back or legs.

The onset of a Period, is often when most people will experience cramps, for 1 or more days, and may come and go, and increase or decrease in severity as if it has a mind of its own [3].  In some cases, people may even experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, as well as headaches and other ailments.  Women with heavier periods may experience more painful cramps than women with lighter periods [3].

The primary type of period pain related to uterine contractions is caused by prostaglandins, but some women experience a secondary type of painful cramps, caused by conditions such as non-cancerous growths, fibroids, or polyps in the uterus [3]. 

It is quite normal for girls and women to experience cramps with their cycles and shouldn't be a huge cause for concern, but when in doubt, talk to your doctor.  It's one of the most common gynecologic complaints amongst young women [4]. 

Other factors that may influence the intensity or severity of your cramps are a higher inflammatory response caused by the increase of Prostaglandins, or other factors such as obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption. [5][6].

So how do I prevent period cramps or find relief?

For some women, hormonal birth control is all they need, as it decreases the number of prostaglandins and often contains estrogen and progesterone which usually help to reduce cramps [7].

When switching or starting a new birth control method, as your body adapts, those hormonal changes could trigger a bout of menstrual cramping.

In order to reduce your painful cramps, you generally need to reduce inflammation, relax muscles, reduce pain, and increase blood flow. Decreasing Prostaglandin is important, but not all prostaglandins cause cramps.  Some actually reduce inflammation [5].

Supplements for reducing Period Cramps

If you're looking for natural ways to reduce or help prevent menstrual cramps, without relying on NSAIDs, implants, or other treatments, there are a few potent remedies for cramps you should consider.

1 - Magnesium

Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer. Taking a magnesium supplement can help relieve menstrual cramping and pain since it relaxes the muscles, produces more relaxing neurotransmitters such as GABA and reduces the overproduction of Prostaglandins that cause your period pain [8].   For maximum absorption, take a form of magnesium, such as magnesium malate [9][10]. 

It's also important to drink enough water as this can keep your body well hydrated and reduce the painful cramps it may cause due to your inability to retain fluids.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Thiamine helps the body to produce energy, fatigue, weakness, cramping, or twitching in your muscles can be indicated by low levels of B1.   Studies have found that eating foods that are rich in Thiamin, such as whole grains, fish or poultry can help increase its levels [11][12].

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 helps our bodies to produce neurotransmitters that block pain and control muscle contractions.   Foods rich in Vitamin B6 include fortified cereals, beans, soybeans, poultry, bananas, beef, and fish[11][13].

Vitamin B12

Research has shown that taking B12 supplements can reduce painful menstrual cramps;  One study involved 78 women with dysmenorrhea, taking N-3 fatty acid with B12 over 3-4 months, showed a significant reduction in the number of reported menstrual symptoms and interference with their performance of daily activities [14].

Calcium

Up to 30% of pregnant women suffer from leg cramps at one time or another.  Even though the causes are often unknown, in clinical studies, calcium has been shown to provide good clinical improvement when taken for at least 2 weeks in pregnant women [15].  Calcium works synergistically with Magnesium in your body, to help regulate muscle contractions and nerve signaling, so having enough calcium will help mediate smooth muscle contractions [16]. 

Sodium

Sodium is an important electrolyte.  Some people who suffer from extreme pain, such as period cramps, have found that taking electrolytes can help relieve painful cramping due to muscular dehydration.   Many people cannot tell when their bodies are becoming dehydrated, until they start experiencing symptoms, such as muscle cramping.  Since sodium is responsible for maintaining your extracellular fluid volume, sodium can help to relieve cramps by helping your body to retain enough water and stay hydrated [17].

Potassium

Potassium is crucial to your body's ability to regulate muscle contractions.  Cramps are uncontrolled contractions and as such, it is helpful to make sure you are getting enough potassium to ensure your body is capable of properly regulating your contractions during your period, so you experience the least amount of pain possible [18]. 

Apple Cider Vinegar

Acetic Acid sources such as Apple Cider Vinegar have also been recommended for athletes to prevent and alleviate exercise-related muscle cramps [19].

Studies conducted on the effects of acetic acid have shown that there is a potential role in cramp reduction by decreasing alpha motor neuron activity through oropharyngeal stimulation and inhibitory neurotransmitter production.  In addition, Acetic acid assists acetylcholine to influence muscle contraction and relaxation [19].

What this all boils down to is when you are experiencing cramps such as menstrual cramps, Apple Cider Vinegar, a source of Acetic acid can help to prevent and alleviate muscle cramps, especially if you are physically active [19]. 

Cayenne Pepper

Chili pepper contains a substance called capsaicin.  Capsaicin has been extensively studied, and has been shown to reduce muscular pain, even headaches by improving circulation, has protective effects for digestive health, and even has the potential to fight many types of cancer [20].

Capsaicin also has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, thermogenic properties, which also help with weight loss.  Even topical applications for arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, and psoriasis have been shown to be effective.

Furthermore what's so exciting about Capsaicin for period cramps, is how it stimulates blood flow.  Prostaglandins cause the uterus to contract during your menstrual cycle.  Too much of certain prostaglandins causes more severe contractions which in turn cut off blood flow to surrounding blood vessels, which cut off the oxygen supply and cause cramps as well, compounding the situation.

Due to capsaicin's ability to increase blood flow, it is a potent tool to help alleviate muscular pain, increase oxygen flow and help to reduce period cramps.  Additionally, when taken with other cramp-reducing ingredients, it stimulates your digestive system to enhance the permeability of micronutrients [21].

This helps your body to absorb these cramps reducing nutrients more efficiently and effectively, so any holistic remedy used to reduce cramps would do well to include capsaicin in its formula.

There are a variety of ways to help reduce your period cramps.  A sure-fire way to help reduce muscle cramps, anywhere in your body is to try Cramp Medic.  It contains a proprietary blend of key ingredients, which when taken on an empty stomach can begin to have a positive effect in as little as 15 seconds.

Cramp Medic's proprietary formula nourishes your body with ingredients proven to help reduce cramps, muscular pain, nutrient absorption, inflammation, increase circulation, relax and hydrate muscles, regulate muscle contractions, and much more. 

If you are looking for a solution to reduce and eliminate period cramps, without having to take prescriptions, drugs, or medications, give Cramp Medic a try.  With our Money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose, other than painful cramps!

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REFERENCES

    1. Burbeck P, et al. Period pain: Overview. 
    2. Mannix LK. Menstrual-related pain conditions: dysmenorrhea and migraine 
    3. Period pain: overview. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care
    4. Harel Z. Dysmenorrhea in adolescents and young adults: etiology and management.  
    5. Ricciotti E, FitzGerald GA. Prostaglandins and inflammation / Prostaglandin and Inflammation 
    6. Bertone-Johnson ER, Ronnenberg AG, Houghton SC, Nobles C, Zagarins SE, Takashima-Uebelhoer BB, Faraj JL, Whitcomb BW. Association of inflammation markers with menstrual symptom severity and premenstrual syndrome in young women. 
    7. Dmitrovic R, et al. Continuous Compared With Cyclic Oral Contraceptives for the Treatment of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Randomized Controlled Trial
    8. Möykkynen T, et al. Magnesium potentiation of the function of native and recombinant GABA(A) receptors 
    9. Gröber U, Schmidt J, Kisters K. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy 
    10. Uysal N, et al. Timeline (Bioavailability) of Magnesium Compounds in Hours: Which Magnesium Compound Works Best? 
    11. Proctor M, Murphy P. Herbal and dietary therapies for primary and secondary dysmenorrhoea. 
    12. Wiley K, Gupta M. Vitamin B1 Thiamine Deficiency. 
    13. Brown M, et al. Vitamin B6 Deficiency.
    14. Deutch B, et al. Menstrual discomfort in Danish women reduced by dietary supplements of omega-3 PUFA and b12. 
    15. Hammar M, Larsson L, Tegler L. Calcium treatment of leg cramps in pregnancy. Effect on clinical symptoms and total serum and ionized serum calcium concentrations. 
    16. Jiang H, Stephens N. Calcium and smooth muscle contractions. 
    17. Shrimanker I, Bhattarai S. Electrolytes.
    18. Menche N, et al. How does the nervous system work? 
    19. Marosek S, Dowlatshahi V. Quantitative Analysis of the Acetic Acid Content in Substances Used by Athletes for the Possible Prevention and Alleviation of Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramps. 
    20. Huang X-F, et al. Capsaicin and its analogues: structure-activity relationship study. 
    21. Srinivasan K. Biological Activities of Red Pepper (Capsicum annuum) and Its Pungent Principle Capsaicin: A Review.