Painful menstrual periods! How can you help yourself?

For many, the menstrual cycle can be a very painful experience.  The majority of females suffer with mild to moderate discomfort at the onset of a period.  Cramping and back ache, tiredness and grouchiness possibly but for some, the pain can be very intense!

If this sounds like you then firstly visit your GP to rule out an underlying condition like fibroids or endometriosis.  If these are rued out, then look to your diet to help ease the pain.

Painful periods are a result of contractions in your womb which become stronger when the bleeding begins. 

Another reason is a hormone-like substance called a prostaglandin, of which there are 3 groups.  These have a number of functions such as the contraction and relaxation of muscles and the dilation of blood vessels. They also help to control blood pressure and modulate inflammation.

Your body makes them from essential fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6.

Anti cramping and anti-inflammatory prostaglandin 1 is made from Omega 6 fatty acids found in flax seeds, sunflower and sesame seeds and walnuts.

Anti-inflammatory prostaglandin 3 are derived from oily fish, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds and walnuts.

Pro-inflammatory prostaglandin 2 is manufactured from dairy produce and to a lesser extent from red meat.  If your diet is high in dairy then consider reducing the dairy content and eating more green leafy vegetables for the calcium and magnesium minerals.

For these prostaglandins to have their anti-inflammatory and anti-cramping effects they require a spark plug which comes from the minerals magnesium, zinc and vitamin B6.  So, your diet should be high in the following foods to get the benefits; plenty of green leafy vegetables, avocado, banana, nuts and seeds beans and pulses for magnesium.

For zinc seafood, beans, nuts, seeds red meat and poultry.

For vitamin B6 starchy vegetables like parsnips and potatoes, sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, spinach, banana and avocado.

It is also a good idea to take supplement specifically for PMS which contains at least 300 milligrams of magnesium, 15 milligrams of zinc and 25 milligrams of B6 for at least 6 months daily, and evening primrose oil or starflower oil 1000 milligrams per day.

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Andrea M Bowen RNT BSc N Med. m BANT, CNHC

Andrea Bowen RNT BSc Nutri Med mBANT CNHC registered practitioner

I work with people who want to regain their energy and spark for life, using good wholesome food and life style changes. I specialise in digestive health and hormonal issues and restoring depleted energy reserves.… Read more

Written by Andrea M Bowen RNT BSc N Med. m BANT, CNHC

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