Read this great write up from Vocal Vixen! Cycle's very own Dr. Julia A. White answered some great questions about cramps.
Here is the article below:
Every girl has gone through that awkward phase where they got their cycle, and really didn’t know what to do. Who hasn’t spent hours in front of the computer, looking up urban myths and tips to help us through those horrible 5-7 days every single month? One of the myths that are familiar to a lot of us girls are ‘salt making cramps work’ or ‘salt baths helping with cramps’. TheVocalVixen.com is here to debunk the sodium myth with The Cycle Girl.
The Cycle founders Courtney Casgraux & Kendra Studdert created the first physician approved period kit for young girls. The ladies are preparing and education girls about a topic so taboo. They’ve partnered up with the Boys & Girls club and most recently with the Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center, offering free classes for the entire month of August to girls with developmental disabilities / special needs; autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
Below you can find the answers to some of the frequently asked questions! We hope we helped you throughout this journey that will be with us for most of our lives!
Is it a myth or a fact that salt actually helps with menstrual cramps?
Myth. While Epsom Salt baths can be helpful (see below), intake of salt in food (which is sodium chloride) does not help. Increased salt intake around your period can actually increase swelling and fluid retention which in turn usually cause worsening of cramps.
What are the Top 4 ways to help alleviate menstrual cramps?
- You should eat a well balanced diet that is low in sodium(salt). Also maintain adequate hydration by drinking plenty of water. Avoid caffeine.
- Regular exercise during your period is important. By exercising, you help increase your endorphins which help you feel better and have less pain.
- If you have significant cramping, try medications such as ibuprofen, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). This class of medications help to relieve pain and work against prostaglandins which are increased during your period. These are thought to stimulate the contractions of the uterus which is the “cramping” of cramps (aka dysmenorrhea). If you have a bleeding disorder or gastric ulcers, however, you should NOT takeNSAIDs. Always discuss any medication use with your doctor prior to beginning a new medication.
- You can try a warm water bottle or heating pad to the abdomen.
Is there any truth to theory that soaking in an Epsom Salt bath will decrease the discomfort caused by the menstruation?
Yes. Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is important in regulation of muscles – and muscular contraction of the uterus is what causes cramping during menstruation. Magnesium levels may also be low during menstruation, therefore use of epsom salt soaks may be helpful with that regard. The salts also have anti-inflammatory effects.
Are there any “inside tips” that every girl should know about their menstrual cycle?
- Keep up with exercise during your period.
- Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid caffeine, excess salt, and sugars.
- Keep track of your periods – use a period tracker app on your phone or any other way to keep a record. This way you will know if your cycles are irregular. If you start to see a lot ofirregular cycles or ever go a prolonged period of time without a cycle then you should contact your doctor.
- Stay hydrated!
I suffer from severe fluid retention during my cycle. Are there any dietary changes that we can make to help decrease fluid retention during my menstrual cycle?
The best suggestion is to decrease sodium intake to a low sodium and no added salt diet. This helps decrease fluid retention and bloating. Also make sure you are eating a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low in sugar. Avoid foods with simple carbohydrates – i.e. white bread, white rice, potatoes, etc. A low sodium diet with no added salt starting a week prior to your menstrual cycle can decrease fluid retention and bloating.
Why is it that some people have cravings for salty food during that time of the month?
Hormonal changes during your period, especially with progesterone and estrogen, cause some women to have cravings for salty food, sweets, chocolate, or other junk foods. These hormonal changes cause glucose level spikes and drops leading to the cravings. Trying to resist this urge will help you feel better during your period in the long run.
If any, are there benefits to consuming salt during menstruation?
Not really. If anything, it could increase bloating!