Period pain is common, but that doesn’t mean that your teen has to suffer for too long. If your child experiences period pain, here are a bunch of remedies for getting rid of it, from light cramps at school to more intense ones that might have them staying home. We should point out: severe period pain is not normal and please consult their doctor if the discomfort is interrupting their daily activities. Scroll to the bottom for answers on FAQs about period cramps.
Natural and home remedies for period pain: Relief without medicine
If they aren't ready to reach for the medicine cabinet, there are loads of natural ways that they can treat menstrual cramps. From what they eat to how they move — they should take note of these simple and holistic ways to take care of their body and ease period pain.
Foods for period cramps
A well-balanced diet can help protect your child's body and reduce painful period cramping. Eating the right vitamins and minerals (like Vitamin D & omega oils) will help boost their body’s natural defenses and combat any painful period cramping. There are plenty of foods out there that can help fight off period cramps. Now, we know they're hungry (and hangry) thanks to PMS. Here are a few foods that can help alleviate cramps and get rid of period pain.
This ancient root is known for lessening inflammation and pain, making it the perfect fighter against the toughest cramps. Ginger is also known to relieve nausea, a common side effect to cramps. The best part? It’s versatile! Ginger can be added to almost any meal and can be enjoyed in tea, soup, or on its own.
This might seem fishy, but an oily fish like salmon is packed with omega-3, a known anti-inflammatory fat. Not only will relieve cramps, but omega-3s are also known to reduce anxiety and depression, can fight off heart disease and increase eye health! No brainer, right?
Steak or Lentils
You can lose anywhere from around four tablespoons to a cup of blood on your period, which means your child is also losing a ton of iron. Loss of iron can not only make them extra sleepy, but can also make period cramps worse. Load them up on foods high in iron like steak to ward off these symptoms. Not a meat eater? Not a problem – look to legumes like lentils or dark leafy greens like spinach or kale to replenish those iron levels.
Chocolate is the #1 food craved by people on their period. If your teen is one of those people, we’re here to tell you they should go for it! They should follow their heart, satisfy their cravings and eat all the chocolate they want – doctor’s orders. Excess sugar is bad for cramps, which is why dark chocolate is the best option and can help with period pain relief. It’ll keep their sweet tooth happy while relaxing their muscles and giving them a much-needed boost of magnesium!
The high levels of potassium in bananas make them super healthy, and a lack of potassium can actually lead to period cramps. If your child is not feeling the whole fruit, consider making a banana smoothie, or try other potassium-rich foods like white beans, kale, and apricots.
Heat will help ease their menstrual cramps
Is it getting hot in here, or is your stomach just on fire? Heat soothes painful period cramps and takes their mind off things.
Take a Bath
Your teen can take a much-needed break from their pad, tampon, or menstrual cup and have a nice soak in the bathtub. Not only is it relaxing, but the warm water will relax their muscles and help soothe cramps. For added ambiance and ultimate relaxation, try adding some Epsom salts or a bath bomb.
Use a Heating Pad or Hot Water Bottle
Don’t have a bathtub or they're just not a fan? We've got them – try a heating pad! There’s a whole world of heating pads out there – ones they can pop in the microwave or fill with hot water and bring wherever they go! Whether they're watching television, in the car, sitting at their desk or lying in bed, they can hold a heating pad against their stomach to get rid of those pesky and painful period cramps. You could also go the old-fashioned route and try a hot-water bottle.
Period pain relief through movement and exercise
Get moving! Whether it’s a walk around the block, an HIIT workout, or pilates, exercise can help. Exercise increases blood circulation, which can reduce cramps. Exercise is also known for lowering stress and– wouldn’t you have it– stress levels are directly related to the severity of cramps.
Teen not feeling up for it? Even a simple stretch can help alleviate period pain: Here are two simple moves you can share with them to try to help tackle period pain:
Lie down and raise your feet either straight up or against a wall — being in a relaxed position will help ease your pain naturally.
Try the sphinx pose (pics & tutorial here) to help relieve tension and aches.
Herbal supplements to take for period pain
Homeopathy is another way to tackle period pain, though there are no guarantees that it will work for your child. Every body is different, but here are some well-known holistic methods for tackling period pain. Consider trying these if you or your child is interested in the natural route.
Chamomile tea and molasses have both been recommended for their restorative properties when you’re on your period. For meat-eaters and pescatarians, they can also increase their omega-3 oil intake by taking fish oil capsules.
Acupuncture has worked for some people who suffer from chronic period pain, but your teen may want to sit this one out if they don’t like needles.
Massage + essential oils ease sore stomachs and backs
Massage, whether they do it for themself or get someone else to help, is a great way to relieve period cramps and muscle tension in the body. Combine a gentle tummy massage with some essential oils like lavender for super pain relief and relaxation. Focus on your lower back and abdomen, and keep the movements light and gentle.
Taking pain reliever for period cramps
If they need to get rid of period cramps fast or the pain just hurts too much, it may be time to reach for some over-the-counter medication. They’re the easiest, most universal relief you can find to ease your period pain. Here are some pain killers you can consider.
This one may seem obvious but pain killers, uh, reduce pain. There are pain relievers such as Advil and Tylenol, but also pain relievers targeted towards period symptoms like Midol. It’s best to take these pills right at the beginning of your period, before the cramps get too bad.
Birth control isn’t only meant to ward off unwanted pregnancy– it has plenty of other benefits. Not only can birth control regulate your period so your teen always knows when it’s coming, it can also help reduce cramps while they're on it.
Avoid these to help with future period pain
Your child's period cramps may never fully go away or stop, but there are ways that they can protect yourself against them. It’s all about having a healthy, balanced lifestyle and keeping themselves active.
Avoid these :
Dairy (in large quantities it has been shown to make things worse for some people)
Too much stress
Seeing a doctor for severe cramps
If all else fails – talk to a doctor. Are their cramps lasting all day, or making them vomit? Do their cramps feel more like contractions? Is their period pain so bad and unmanageable that they feel they have to stay home from school or work?
If your teen's cramps don’t feel normal or are worse than usual, they may need to seek medical help. Your doctor can check for underlying causes that may be making your cramps worse, like endometriosis. A doctor can also help find the best birth control for them, if they're interested in going that route. If they've tried everything on this list and nothing worked, consider giving their doctor a call.
Further reading: How to put in a tampon
Period pain FAQs
What are period cramps exactly?
They tend to happen after ovulation as the egg travels down the fallopian tube, and they are caused by hormonal and biological changes in the body. Usually, they begin a few days before a period is due or in the first couple of days during a period.
What does a period cramp feel like?
A cramp can be an intense stomach pain or more of a dull ache, and it can be accompanied by back pain, pain on the right or left side, and nausea. They may also feel dizzy and get diarrhea.
Where will they feel period cramps?
Generally, they will feel period cramps around the abdomen and back, but it can also affect the legs, or cause headaches.
How long do period cramps last?
Anywhere from two days to almost a week– they can start before the period and continue for the entire duration. Every body is different, so they may have cramps for more or less days than their friends or family members.
Can they have cramps and no period blood?
Yes, period cramps often happen before the onset of your actual menstrual flow.
How do period cramps start?
Twinges and a dull ache are usually the first signs, which can then get worse and become more full-blown cramps.
Are there different types of period cramps?
Every menstruating person feels cramps differently, and some people don’t have them at all. Some people start their periods with no cramps, and, as they age, pain can start to appear. Conditions like Endometriosis make period pain a lot worse.
Period cramps and pregnancy — is there a link?
Sometimes people can have cramping during the early stages of their pregnancy that feels like period cramps, but other than that, they are not related.
Do period cramps get better with age? Do they ever go away?
Birth control can help some people control cramps. While they might never go away for good, it’s possible to control and manage them with any of the tips above, medicine, diet, and/or exercise.