Anyone whose periods are extremely painful every month, who has stopped having periods or who is suffering from heavy periods should see a doctor. Complementary therapies and self-help tips can be a solution once serious problems, such as endometriosis, fibroids, or cancer, have been ruled out. Complementary therapies can, however, help for both endometriosis and fibroids (see Hysterectomies – are they really necessary?).
Many women experience pain at the start of their periods – back pain, low abdomen pain, feeling sick and sweaty, exhausted and feeling generally unwell.
Periods can be painful for a variety of reasons but if they are consistently causing you considerable pain it is essential to visit a doctor and be examined to ensure that nothing serious is wrong such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease. Once you are sure that there are no other problems some self-help can ease some of the symptoms.
Taking a painkiller may be the answer to relieving the pain but it isn’t removing the cause. Periods may be painful because of other factors such as deficiency in certain nutrients, being overweight, or a general unhealthy state. By improving diet and general health it is possible that periods will settle down and not cause any problems. However, from around 40 onwards in the peri-menopausal stage periods do change and may become heavier and more painful. Similarly at the start of having periods a young girl often experiences a lot of pain which goes away as she gets older.
It might seem a touch repetitive but healthy eating benefits the body in so many ways and can considerably improve periods for women. To find out more about eating healthily look in Nutrition/You Are What You Eat.
A healthy diet consists of:
- organic fruit and vegetables
- wholegrains like brown rice
- pulses such as lentils
- nuts and seeds
- oily fish – herrings, mackerel, tuna, salmon and sardines
- (organic) chicken and turkey
- plenty of water – preferably filtered or spring water
Deficient in vitamins or minerals?
Few women have enough nutrients in their diet, however healthily they eat, and therefore the body is not in a fit state to cope with periods often causing pain and other symptoms at that time of the month.
A staggering 96 per cent of women aged 19 to 24 and 91 per cent 19 to 64 year old women have well below the recommended intake of iron, according to research by the Food Standards Agency and Dept of Health. The figures are also very low for magnesium, copper, calcium, zinc, iodine, folic acid, Vitamin A and other vitamins. Therefore it is well worth taking a multivitamin which is specifically for women of menstruating age.
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- Clary sage is a very pungent aromatherapy oil that can do wonders for period discomfort – just a few drops in a bath with lavender oil can soothe period pain in the lower abdomen and back.
- A few drops of lavender, clary sage and chamomile oil in an egg cup of carrier oil such as almond oil massaged into the lower belly can also ease pain.
- In her book Aromatherapy for Women Maggie Tisserand suggests one drop of clary sage in a glass of water with honey to ease pain – we are wary about suggesting this because ingestion of aromatherapy oils is not advised, but having tried it and found it extremely soothing it’s worth passing on.
- You can make up a mixture in 30ml of massage oil (olive oil, jojoba oil, or almond oil) of two drops of peppermint oil, 10 drops of clary sage oil, two of chamomile and five of geranium.
|Clary sage oil||Tisserand Aromatherapy||9ml||£9.35|
|Lavender oil||Tisserand Aromatherapy||9ml||£5.35|
|Roman Chamomile||Tisserand Aromatherapy||9ml||£18.35|
|Peppermint oil||Tisserand Aromatherapy||9ml||£5.50|
|Geranium oil||Tisserand Aromatherapy||9ml||£8.50|
|Jojoba oil||Tisserand Aromatherapy||100ml||£9.60|
|Almond oil||Absolute Aromas||100ml||£3.60|
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- Warmth is great for soothing pain – so snuggle up with a hot water bottle.
- Contrary to old-fashioned thinking doing some exercise actually improves pain rather than making it worse.
- Drink chamomile tea to calm the system.
- Relaxation is helpful for persistently uncomfortable periods – consider Yoga and/or Meditation – see Therapies and Mind Body Spirit/Mind/Live Long, Stay Young
These may help for all kinds of problems with periods and once you have been checked out medically to ensure that there is nothing serious wrong it is worth trying any of these:
- Cranial osteopathy
- Herbal medicine
- Chinese Herbal Medicine
For information about these and how to find practitioners look at Therapies
Women are very aware when their periods have changed and they are having to use more sanitary wear than normal.
This can be due to the onset of menopause but it is always worth a visit to the doctor to rule out any serious problems. Until recently most women with heavy periods had their wombs removed – it is worth reading the article in the Women’s Health section on Hysterectomies as many have been performed unnecessarily and there are alternative ways of dealing with some problems such as fibroids.
An Aromatherapy Mix
Make up a mixture of 30 drops of cypress oil, three drops of rose oil, 25 of chamomile and 20 of geranium and mix together. Then put five or six drops of the mixture into your bath, making sure the oil has properly dispersed – some people mix it with milk to make it disperse better.
It’s important to ensure the obvious reasons why periods might stop – that you’re not pregnant!
Otherwise they can stop because of losing too much weight, high stress levels or illness. Therefore it is vital that you see a doctor to rule out serious health problems or pregnancy!
Again there may be many reasons for irregular periods but is worth a look at lifestyle.
Are you drinking too much, smoking and not eating regularly and healthily?
It is important to seek professional help for all of these problems – initially from a doctor and if the problem is not resolved or you do not wish to take prescription drugs, try seeing a qualified practitioner in any of the following (always check their qualifications):
- Herbal Medicine
- Chinese Herbal Medicine
For information about the relevant associations and how to find practitioners look at Therapies
Natural Health Advisory Service Ltd, 01273 487366 , www.naturalhealthas.com.
Dr Marilyn Glenville has clinics in London and Tunbridge Wells: 08705 329244 www.marilynglenville.com. Postal consultations available.