The perception of pain is an individual issue. Stress has been shown to increase pain perception by about 30 percent per hour. Tension, whether mental or physical, makes any pain feel worse. A woman who is worried and has cramps will almost certainly feel more pain. Some find they are less aware of PMS irritability if they have a number of specific things to do. Put exercise high on this list.
The following suggestions may not work for all women. They may not work for all PMS or dysmenorrhea. Yet they have helped many girls and women reduce the need for analgesics.
- Exercise: Vigorous exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain killer. Higher endorphin levels may be the reason why exercise can be effective against dysmenorrhea and PMS.
- Massage: Massage helps practically everything. The rhythmic strokes soothe and ease tension, reducing the bunching up against the pain.
- Heat: A warm bath can be effective against cramps. A heating pad or hot water bottle cradled at the sore spots often helps.
- Supplements: Some physicians recommend vitamin and mineral supplements. Others believe that these chemicals should be obtained only through a varied diet.
- Diet: Eat small, high-protein snacks every few hours to combat fatigue and weakness.
- Caffeine: Reduce tea, coffee, or chocolate intake to reduce mild dysmenorrhea and PMS.
- Salt: Follow a low sodium diet for seven to ten days before the start of a period to reduce water retention.
- Yoga: The gentle stretching and strengthening of yoga bring soothing relief. Enroll in a class, or learn from a book.