4 Unusual Ways to Relieve Menstrual Cramps

February 25th 2016

Taylor Bell

We know that heating pads and Midol can help ease period woes. But other than that (and perhaps hiding under the covers with a pint), the ways to nix cramps are pretty limited. Although around 80 percent of women experience cramps at some point in their lives, unfortunately there has been little research in how to treat them. Thankfully, there are other options. Here are four unconventional ways to help you get through that time of the month.

1. Orgasms

For some people it might seem like a taboo to have sex during a period but the surge of feel-good chemicals that run through you body during a romp in the sheets is sure to help relieve some menstrual pain. During climax, the body releases endorphins such as oxytocin and dopamine, which can decrease period symptoms, Lauren Streicher, MD, associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, told Everyday Health.

2. Acupuncture

Acupuncture has roots in Chinese medicine and has been used for years to help alleviate pain and treat certain health conditions like anxiety, headaches, back pain, and fatigue. It's a practice that involves using needles to stimulate certain points on the body. 

For menstrual pain, acupuncture can stimulate blood flow to the uterus, relaxing the muscles and the reducing uterine contractions, according to Women's Health Magazine. It also "balances out the brain's hormone-regulator" and can curb mood swings and other symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

“It’s using the body’s own energy to naturally play with hormones and rebalance the system,” Lisa M. Bartoli, D.O., Fellow of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center’s Continuum Center for Health and Healing, told Women's Health Magazine. “I’m always amazed how quickly acupuncture works."

3. Herbal tea

Consider sipping on cramp bark and chamomile tea to ease cramps. Cramp bark can relax uterine walls, while chamomile contains a compound called glycine, that relieves muscle spasm and can act as a nerve relaxant, thereby decreasing period pain.

4. Exercise

You may not feel like it but getting yourself to a gym during your period it is worth it. “The better shape you’re in and the more physically active you are, the less likely you are to suffer from chronic aches and pains, including menstrual cramps,” Bart D. Putterman, MD, an ob-gyn at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women in Houston told Everyday Health. “They don’t take away your pain, but they can make it so you don’t care you have the pain.” Experts think that aerobic exercise is the best cramp-reliever, so consider adding jogging, spin class or swimming to your schedule at least three times a week. 

Related: Why Your Period Is Being Unfairly Taxed