Period pain relief has come a long way since hot water bottles and heat packs. Remember all the days you spent curled up on the couch, missing out on some exciting event and wishing you could just switch off your cramps? Well, now it's possible. New devices are helping women cope with painful and often debilitating menstrual cramps, using innovative technology that employs micro-pulses that activate the body’s natural pain control.
Designed to be worn under clothing, these pad shaped devices stick directly to your abdomen, providing relief within a matter of minutes. Once attached the pulses from the device overload your nerves, blocking the pain signals sent to your brain, and cancelling out all discomfort.
Try: Ovira Nora, RRP $189.00. Available at https://ovira.com.au/
Your time of the month can be pretty harrowing for a number of reasons: mood swings, headaches, bloating, cravings, digestive upset, and of course, those dreaded cramps. If you’re someone who suffers from particularly unpleasant periods, it could be worth considering natural remedies like vitamin supplements to support reproductive health and hormones.
Vitamins like magnesium allow you to absorb important energy from foods, keeping our muscles and nerves healthy. Taken in the lead up to your period, magnesium can greatly assist with the severity of cramps experienced. B vitamins, on the other hand, can reduce pain through supporting vital bodily functions such as your metabolism, immune system and importantly the nervous system. Zinc has also been found to assist with menstrual cramps by working to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Of course, you should always speak to your GP before starting any new supplements or medications.
Try: JSHealth Vitamins Hormone + PMS Support Formula (60 tablets), RRP $49.99. Available at jshealthvitamins.com
If you’ve been thinking about trying a menstrual cup but haven’t yet made the switch, consider this your sign! Not only are menstrual cups better for the environment and more cost effective in the long run, but many cup converts also report greater comfort, fewer changes, and in some cases, lessened period pain.
A cup can last up to 12 hours, meaning fewer trips to the bathroom – which is especially helpful if you’re traveling, working a long shift, or if the available facilities are far from ideal! Once used, simply tip the contents into the toilet and rinse, before inserting again. While not a form of pain relief, menstrual cups can help by minimising the hassle of dealing with a heavy flow. They’re also a brilliant option for anyone with sensitive skin, and in some cases, can be beneficial for sufferers of endometriosis. You’ll almost forget it’s that time of the month.
Try: The TOM Organic Period Cup, RRP $40.00. Available at https://thetomco.com
Specific yoga poses can be super helpful in assisting with energy levels and pain during your menstrual cycle. By practising certain stretches and poses, you can help ease the discomfort caused by your period, including abdominal swelling, breast tenderness and back pain.
Equally importantly, yoga can reduce stress and strengthen muscles, which all contribute to your body’s ability to deal with the physical strain caused by your period. Effective poses to help with cramps are cobra, cat, and cow – these can help stretch out your body and are suitable for your heavy menstrual days.
Read: Flo, Can you do yoga during your period? Available here.
While it’s great to rely on natural remedies wherever possible, sometimes they just don’t cut it. Luckily there’s a range of low-level anti-inflammatory drugs that can help reduce pain connected with menstrual cramps.
Naproxen is a common pain-relieving medication used to treat period pain and belongs to the group of medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Naproxen works to treat fever and pain and is used for a range of ailments such as muscle aches, backache, headaches, as well as menstrual cramps.
Try: APOHEALTH Period Pain Relief, RRP $4.95. Available at https://www.superpharmacy.com.au/
Track your period
“Tracking the details of your period is a great way to gain a better understanding of your body and symptoms,” says Montana.
“Details such as pain levels, mood, heaviness of flow and breast tenderness can be recorded using a period tracker app on your phone. The better you know your symptoms and your body, the better understanding you’ll have if something is strange compared to normal.”
Tracking your cycle may also help you better manage your pain – for example, you might learn that the first two days of your cycle require stronger pain relief, such as over-the-counter medication, while the remaining few days can be managed with a simple heat pack.
Try: Flo Period & Pregnancy Tracker. Available at https://flo.health/
How to know when it’s time to see a doctor
While it’s common for periods to cause significant discomfort, you should visit your doctor if pain becomes severe or distressing.
“Symptoms of concern include sharp pains or a dull ache in your lower abdomen,” says Montana.
“These symptoms aren’t concerning in the short term but if they last for longer than 2 days you should consider visiting a doctor. This is especially true if pain doesn’t stop when you take the contraceptive pill or pain relief; if it prevents you from completing normal daily activities; or if you have pain while going to the bathroom.”
Other reasons you should visit your doctor include pain in the pelvic area when you don’t have your period, or discomfort during sex.
While period pain is far from ideal, the right products and remedies can greatly improve your monthly experience. By trialling a range of options – and seeking professional medical advice when you need it – you’ll be better equipped to ride the crimson wave next time around.