Raise your hand if you have ever felt personally victimized by your period pain. Well, you’re not alone. Period pain is no joke, and studies show that 80% of women have experienced period cramps -- that’s a lot of women in pain each month when you really think about it! Thankfully, heating pads for cramps are available, but how exactly do they work?
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about using a heating pad for cramps.
Why Do We Get Period Cramps in the First Place?
Before we dive into all the wonders of using a heating pad for period pain, why exactly do women experience cramps in the first place? Great question.
Period cramps happen when the muscles of your uterus contract, which typically happens just before or during your period. Those painful contractions are sparked by chemicals called prostaglandins, which are produced in the lining of the uterus. When endometrial cells are broken down during your monthly cycle, the prostaglandins are released, and they are indirectly related to estrogen.
On the other side of the coin, prostaglandin (and your monthly cramps) are decreased when you take hormonal birth control because you are not building up that endometrial tissue.
You see, your uterus is basically one big muscle, and those contractions happen to make the lining of the uterus shed, thus causing the arrival of your Auntie Flow. And as you probably already know, cramps tend to be a little more intense during the first day or two of your period.
So why are menstrual cramps mildly uncomfortable in some women and couch-condemning in others, you might ask? Well, that can be due to a handful of factors: like heavier bleeding in some women, health conditions like adenomyosis, differences in pain tolerance, and even larger blood clots being pushed through the cervix. Endometriosis can also cause cramps to be even more painful than usual.
Menstrual cramps can wreak havoc on your abdomen and even your lower back. The pain can range from being pretty mild to plain agonizing.
For example, a recent study confirmed that one in ten women actually aren’t able to go about their daily activities because the pain from their period cramps is that intense.
However, that’s not exactly the norm. For most of us ladies, cramps will come and go and be uncomfortable but not unbearable. Even so, they are far from fun and can certainly hinder everything from our moods to our usual day-to-day.
Heating Pads and Period Cramps
Enter heating pads and heating patches.
Heating pads have been used to relieve menstrual pain for ages. They are very helpful for pain relief because they increase circulation and, as a result, help to relax cramped or tight muscles. When used to relieve period cramps, heating pads have the same effect on uterine muscles, helping them to relax more.
We’ll explain a little more in-depth:
The main reason why heat therapy is so incredibly beneficial for pain is because heat naturally increases blood flow to the site of your pain, and this increased blood flow relaxes your muscles in that specific area.
Now in the case of the notorious menstrual cramps, one theory about why it works suggests that heat relaxes the myometrium. The myometrium is the middle layer of your uterine wall, and it is also where the smooth muscles are, which contract and cause pain.
By relaxing the myometrium, your blood vessels that were once constricted are able to relax and allow more blood flow to your uterus.
At the end of the day, this is just theory. But what does the research actually have to say about all of this? Well, there is a study that was done with a small group of women who were experiencing pain from their time-of-month.
The women used heating pads at a temperature of 104 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit, and the study showed that the heating pads decreased perceived period pain:
- 27% decrease in pain after one hour.
- 43% decrease in pain after two hours.
- 79% decrease in pain after four hours.
Aside from evaluating a reduction in pain levels, the researchers also viewed changes in blood flow to the uterus. Now, it is good to keep in mind that from a scientific perspective, this study was far from perfect because there was no placebo group. However, there is also no denying the results!
Hopefully, more research and studies on this topic will be done in the future under more scientifically ideal conditions.
Where Should I Put The Heating Pad For Period Cramps?
For most women, applying a heating pad to your lower abdomen is the best approach to get relief from period pain. In addition, you can also apply heat to your lower back area for added relief.
The ultimate choice of where to apply heat is really up to you and depends solely on where you tend to experience the most pain. Also, some of us can tolerate the heat a little better in one part of the body versus another. So, if you happen to find that your lower abdominal area is too sensitive to heat, try using the heating pad on your lower back or vice versa.
Okay, but what’s the best way to use a heating pad?
Great question! There are really only two different ways to use a heating pad to abolish period cramps:
- Use it by itself.
- Combine it with cramp-busting essential oils.
Let’s start with using it by itself. Apply a heating pad over your lower abdomen or back. There are many different types of heating pads on the market to choose from, including cordless, portable, electric, and microwavable, but our favorite type is without a doubt, our own heating patches here at Rael.
Our powerful heating patches will instantly warm up to a perfect, therapeutic temperature to promote blood flow and help your muscles relax for maximum relief.
They are extremely easy to use and will kick those pesky periods cramps to the curb in no time!
The second best way to use a heating pad to fight menstrual cramps is by combining a heating pad with essential oils.
Essential oils alone are a great natural remedy for period pain, but when combined with a heating pad, you get an extra pain-fighting boost.
Okay, so how exactly do you use essential oils and a heating pad for painful menstrual cramps?
It’s easy! Simply massage your diluted essential oil onto your lower back and/or abdomen for roughly one minute. Then, apply a heating pad over the area, and voila!
The heat also helps to boost your skin’s natural absorption of the oils. Now in terms of which oils to use, there are tons of amazing essential oils you can choose from to help with your menstrual pain. These include:
- Lemon balm
In addition to providing therapeutic heat, the Rael Heating Patch is infused with some of these soothing botanicals like rosehip, lemon balm, and jasmine -- perfect for the busy-bee living life on the go.
How Long Can You Use A Heating Pad For Period Cramps?
How long you can use a heating pad will really depend on the type you use as well as the pad’s temperature settings. In general, though, it’s best practice to apply heat for roughly 15 to 20 minutes to start. You can then take a break, evaluate your pain level, and resume the use of the heating pad as necessary.
Furthermore, when using a heating pain to help ease those painful cramps, keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Always begin on the lowest heat setting, gradually increasing the temperature as needed.
- Never ever apply a heating pad to broken skin that has a cut or open wound.
- Always take great care of your skin by protecting it from burns. You can do this easily by wrapping the heating pad in a sheet or towel. Or, you can place the heating pad on top of whatever clothing it is that you’re wearing. Just be sure to avoid direct contact between your skin and the heating pad.
- Lastly, make sure not to fall asleep when using your heating pad because you just might overheat your skin. Also, if you happen to be using an electric heating pad, you certainly do not want to fall asleep while the pad is on.
A Final Word
Even though period cramps are extremely common, it’s not something that you can’t get a little help with! Natural remedies like using a heating patch from Rael are a simple way to get quick relief so that you can still live your life.
We’re on a mission to improve women’s lives through holistic feminine care -- innovative, natural, and effective solutions for all aspects of her cycle and life. Periods are natural, and so is Rael.