Most women experience some menstrual pain, For up to 15 percent, it is severe enough to interfere with work and other activities for one or more days every month.1 Sometimes the pain diminishes after childbirth, but for many women it continues.
What Causes the Pain?
Before a period begins, the cells that form the lining of the uterus, also called endometrial cells, begin to break down during menstruation and release large amounts of inflammatory prostaglandins. These chemicals constrict the blood vessels in the uterus and make the muscle layer contract, causing painful cramps. Some of the prostaglandins enter the bloodstream, causing headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.2
Researchers have measured the number of prostaglandins produced by cells of the uterus and found that it is higher in women with menstrual pain than for women who have little or no pain. This helps explain why nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) work for menstrual pain. Ibuprofen (Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and other NSAIDs reduce the production of prostaglandins. NSAIDs have been found to decrease menstrual flow, which may reduce menstrual pain.
A Closer Look at Estrogen
There may be a more fundamental approach. Rather than focusing on the prostaglandins themselves, it may help to look at the cellular “factories” that make them. Oral contraceptives, or birth control pills, lower the production of prostaglandins by slowing the growth of the uterus lining. As a result, 90% of women who take birth control pills experience reduced menstrual pain. However, diet changes may lead to similar results.
Estrogens are female sex hormones, a sort of hormonal fertilizer that makes the cells of the body grow. In every monthly menstrual cycle, the estrogen levels in a woman’s body rises and falls. These hormones are responsible for breast development at puberty, and each month they cause the lining of the uterus to thicken in anticipation of pregnancy.
Estrogen gradually rises as a woman’s period ends and falls again at the start of a new cycle. Then, for about two weeks, the hormone rises toward a peak and falls quickly around the time of ovulation. It rises again in the second half of the month and then falls just before the next period for a total of two rises and falls throughout the cycle. The uterus sheds its lining in a menstrual flow, accompanied by crampy pain.
Foods That Fight Inflammation
Naturally, eating foods that decrease inflammation in the body will help to tame menstrual cramps. These foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Research has shown that both a vegetarian and plant-based eating pattern work to decrease inflammation in the body. This decrease is due to the high number of antioxidants and plant chemicals found in plant foods that help the body to function optimally.
There is a connection between the food you eat and your body’s estrogen levels. Animal products and added oils increase the levels of estrogen in the body. The more estrogen-based foods you consume, the more likely your uterine lining becomes abnormally thick. As a result, when it begins to break down during the menstrual cycle, this process creates more prostaglandins, resulting in higher levels of pain.
This are some few healthy tips for you when menstruating.
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