Health

Period of pain

Sonam is doubled over in pain. She is in her mid-twenties and dreads getting her periods. She wishes she could get relief from this pain without having to resort to medications.

More than half of menstruating women experience some pain during their menstrual periods, at least for 1-2 days each month. The pain that occurs during periods is called dysmenorrhoea. Usually, the pain is mild. Sometimes, however, the pain is severe enough to keep them from their normal activities. Painful periods are the leading cause of women missing work and school.

Menstrual cramps are very common concerns among women who experience regular menstrual cycles. The pain is also a cause of anxiety to parents of young girls who feel helpless as they see their daughter suffering.

There are many medications available that can ease menstrual pain. These are safe and can be taken every month to relieve cramping. Nevertheless, many women wish that they could pro-actively do something to completely do away with, or at least, reduce the pain without medications.

Exercises for menstrual pain

Like many aches and pains in different parts of the body, menstrual pain too responds to regular exercise. The best way to deal with menstrual cramping is to have a healthy diet before and during the periods and accompany this with a regular exercise routine.

Walking

Regular walking is a great way of reducing menstrual pain. You should walk briskly for at least 45 minutes, five days a week. The walking should be fast enough to make you breathless but still allow you to speak. The important thing is to push your speed up periodically. When your body feels the pain in your legs, it releases endorphins, which are ‘feel-good' chemicals in the brain. These are natural painkillers.

If you exercise regularly, your menstrual cramps become less painful because of the circulating endorphins.

Parents should encourage their daughters to be physically active and take up sports. Many young girls find that their cramping is relieved and even the flow reduces if they exercise regularly.

When the pain is really bad, women tend to curl up in bed to relieve the pain. This may not be a very good strategy because then your mind focusses entirely on the pain and there is no respite. Congestion in the pelvis and the spasmodic contraction of the uterus are the two main causes of menstrual pain. Gentle walking helps ease this and will actually reduce the pain.

Stretching exercises

Practising stretching exercises regularly could help you relieve the pain during periods. You can try pelvic stretches that can help you significantly reduce the intensity of menstrual pain. Below are two options for pelvic exercises that you can practise to reduce the pain.

Exercise 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Make sure you are in a comfortable position and your lower back does not have undue pressure on it. Next, slowly move your knees up to your chest and ‘hug' them for a count of 5 seconds. Apply enough pressure so that you can feel a slight stretch in your lower back. Slowly move your knees back to starting position. Do this at least 10 times a set. This exercise stretches the lower back and eases the nagging lower back pain that many women suffer from during the menstrual period.

Exercise 2: The next exercise is equally soothing for the lower back but is done in the opposite way. Get on your hands and knees, with your knees together. Slowly sit back till your thighs are touching your calves. Then lean forward with your palms on the floor and then slide them forward till your head touches the floor. Be sure to stop when you feel a pull in your back. This is sometimes referred to as the praying position. Relax as you hold this position and close your eyes. You can hold it for 10-15 seconds and go back to starting position. Do this at least 5 times a set.

Having pain during periods is common. The degree of pain varies from woman to woman. Medications and hot water fomentation are invaluable in relieving the pain. However, regular exercise can help alleviate the pain and may even do away with the need for medications.

The author is an obstetrician and gynaecologist practising in Chennai and has written the book ‘Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy'.

www.passport2health.in

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 3:06:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/Period-of-pain/article16213235.ece

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