Healthy Diet For Painful Periods

By | April 9, 2009

Foods For Painful Menstrual Periods

Painful periods, also referred as Dysmenorrhoea or menstrual cramps, are menstrual periods accompanied by continuous, intermittent or dull pain that usually occurs in the pelvis or the lower abdomen. Many women of childbearing age suffer from this problem and this pain may happen pre-menstruation or continue during periods and stops when the menstruation period ends. A little pain during menstruation is normal for all women but severe pain along with heavy blood loss needs to be treated as it may affect normal life and health. Painful periods are sometimes a normal and continuous process in some women.

Painful periods occur due to the following reasons:

  • Primary painful periods describes the menstrual pain that occurs in healthy women and is not related to any problem with the uterus or pelvic organs. It is considered normal but is caused due to null parity (having never born a child), obesity, cigarette smoking, or having a positive family history. The symptoms for primary painful periods are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea, lower backache, and headache. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen can be used for it but they have side effects such as gastrointestinal upsets.
  • Secondary painful periods are a sign of some disease or any abnormality inside the uterus (such as fibroids and endometriosis) or outside the uterus (such as pelvic inflammatory disease or uterine displacement) and may be accompanied with heavy bleeding. They are caused due to pelvic infection, sexually transmitted diseases, or endometriosis. The symptoms include heavy bleeding or infertility. NSAIDs are often helpful for relieving these types of painful periods but proper medical treatment (such as prostaglandin synthetase inhibitors, hormonal contraception, danazol, or progestins) should be taken as advised by the doctor.
  • Painful periods are most commonly observed in women in the late teens or 20’s and decrease as the age increases. They are not related to or affected by the childbearing process. Some women experience painful periods in their 30’s and 40’s due to the decrease in endocrine hormones and fertility leading to menopause.

Herbs For Periods And Diet For Menstruation

A healthy diet that should be used to avoid or minimize painful periods is described below:

  • Foods like dairy products, red meat, and vegetable oil, having high unsaturated fats should not be eaten during painful periods.
  • The food should be properly chewed so that it becomes more digestible and does not cause gas problems.
  • Try to consume fiber supplements and use food that is rich in fibers like whole grains including oatmeal and rye, lentils, chickpeas, vegetables, and fruits.
  • Use herbs like licorice, ashwagandha and vitamins C and B5 to relieve stress, as stress is one of the leading causes of painful periods.
  • An intake of antibiotics, as advised by the doctor, should be increased as it affects the bacterial balance in the digestive tract and helps in digestion.
  • Increased consumption of sugar also helps in decreasing painful periods but should be avoided by women having diabetes.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol, soda and caffeine based drinks during painful periods.

Painful periods

Menstrual periods which are painful is a common complaint which is felt by a large number of women. This is usually a pain which originates in the small of the back and extends to the lower abdomen. Sometimes the pain is in spasms while at other times there are cramps which make the woman almost double up. When the pain is unbearable it is difficult for the woman to perform her normal duties and household chores and this is the prime reason of time lost from both work and educational institutes by women. The pain may start a few days prior to the onset of the period and will gradually lessen once the period starts and disappear when the bleeding stops. Some amount of pain during periods is normal but unbearable excessive pain should be seen to. Painful periods are called dysmenorrheal.

During the time when menstruating first starts in a girl there is pain which is related to the increase in hormonal activity. The uterus produces a hormone called prostaglandin which might cause the dysmenorrhea. When women who have had their periods for some time experience dysmenorrhea it is usually related to problems with the uterus or to the pelvic organs. The cause for secondary dysmenorrhea could be related to premenstrual syndrome or PMS, a pelvic inflammation, fibroids, ovarian cysts, STD or sexually transmitted diseases or the presence of and intrauterine device. There are times when extreme stress or anxiety can also trigger off this problem in a woman.

Painful period’s treatment

Each woman will have to find what suits her best to relieve menstrual pain. A lot would depend on the cause of the dysmenorrhea but if it is just normal period pain then some simple remedies would help. Applying a heating pad and massaging the abdomen helps, alongside this there should be proper rest as well as some mild exercise like walking on a regular basis. There are several over the counter mild pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications which help menstrual cramps.

For unbearable pain during this time the doctor sometimes prescribes progestin or estrogen containing oral contraception of a low dose. This reduces the severity of the cramps and regulates the periods. Sometimes surgery is required especially if there are fibroids or cysts which are the cause of the problem and a hysterectomy may have to be done.

Diet during periods

It is better to control the symptoms during periods with a proper diet which helps in reducing the discomfort instead of resorting to pain killers. A diet which has the right ingredients will keep a check on menstrual cramps as well as enhance one’s over all health. If menstrual cramps and abdominal pain is something which one has to deal with every month, it helps to change one’s lifestyle and stick to a diet which will alleviate this discomfort.

Diet during menstruation

Foods which make one feel bloated and heavy like junk food and sweets that are rich should be avoided during the periods. Dairy products and meats have arachadonic acids that increase prostaglandins which causes cramps. A light diet with whole grains, fruits and vegetables and foods which are rich in magnesium and calcium are better during this time of the month. Omega 3 which is found in fish is beneficial as it has anti-inflammatory properties and gives relief from cramps. Flax seed is also good for menstrual cramps as it contains omega 3 fatty acids. Smaller meals eaten more frequently are better.

Healthy periods

Healthy periods are normal periods. A normal period happens every 25 to 30 days as the normal cycle for a period is around 28 days or 4 weeks. The bleeding should last around 5 days with a blood loss of about 8 table spoons at the most. The onset of menarche is between 11 an 14 years of age and menopause happens at around 45 to 55 years. If there is post menopausal bleeding it is best to consult a gynecologist. Sometimes there could be spotting in between periods and this is also not normal.

Food for healthy uterus

To eat food which is good for a healthy uterus is especially necessary for a woman who wants to conceive. Meals to maintain the general health should be balanced and have foods from every group which is required by the body like carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, vitamins and some amount of fat too. These foods are important to fetal development and to ensure that the mother is not anemic. If the diet is vegetarian then and iron supplement should be added along with calcium. Fish with low levels of mercury are safe prior to conception. If the woman is a vegetarian then flax seeds can be added to the diet. Dairy foods help in giving the mother the required amount of calcium but should be the fatless variety. All these foods are good for a healthy uterus and not just for mothers.

Healthy diet during periods

The diet during periods should have a high level of iron and calcium as this is depleted from the body while menstruating. The diet should contain a lot of green vegetables, pulses, legumes, nuts, whole grains and fruits. Dairy products, eggs, chicken and meat are foods which are high in protein levels. What is important during menstruation are vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium and vitamin E.

Food to be taken during periods

Organic foods, whole grain, nuts and seeds and legumes, tofu and cranberry juice are good to include in your diet during periods. Drink a lot of water as it helps to alleviate water retention. Spicy and salty food should be avoided and also eggs as they create a foul smell.

Best diet during periods

Regular balanced diet should be had during periods but these should be light and not heavy on the digestion. A woman already feels bloated while she is menstruating and can avoid foods which will make her retain water or not get digested quickly. Fatty rich foods and excessive sweets are definitely not going to help during this time.

Painful periods after 40

When women over the age of 40 suffer with dysmenorrhea after years of having normal painless periods, the problem could be with the reproductive system. The doctor would have to do a physical examination to determine the cause of this pain and also see whether there could be fibroids, cysts or an infection. The pain could be accompanied with discomfort during sex, a discharge from the vagina, bleeding which is heavier, irregular periods as well as pain in between periods.