Period cramps are different for everyone, but they’re definitely a really big feeling. Some of us even experience them so badly we end up missing out on work and social events because we can’t find relief.
Period cramps are one of the most predictable signs your period is coming, but they can also happen during your period (usually within the first few days.) It can be difficult to stay focused, feel energized, and be productive when you have them; so finding ways to stay comfortable is important.
Not sure if what you’re experiencing is a period cramp or something else? We can help. We’ll talk about what period cramps feel like, what causes them, and how you can get relief. We’ll also cover other reasons you could be having cramps, and when you need to see your doctor.
What Do Period Cramps Feel Like?
If you’ve never experienced cramping before or during your period, it’s time to get a little real so you can learn what to expect. Period cramps can feel similar to the cramping you experience if you have an upset stomach that results in loose stool.
Period cramps occur in the lower abdomen, on either or both sides, and rarely in the middle. You’ll feel a throbbing pain that may come and go or last for several hours or entire days. Pain may come in waves, with brief periods of relief between.
Cramps can also feel like:
- Pressure: You may feel like there is pressure building in your lower abdomen, similar to gas pain.
- Aching: Sometimes period cramps can feel like a dull, constant ache. The ache can intensify the closer you are to your period.
Period cramps sometimes bring other unexpected side effects with them. When you have period cramps, it’s not uncommon to experience:
- Loose stools
Some people may even experience a higher body temperature while they have period cramps prior to their period.
What Causes Period Cramps?
Period cramps are a side effect of the hard work your body is doing to prepare you for your period. Your uterus is a powerful organ. Each month that you do not become pregnant, your uterus sheds its lining, which results in your period.
Your uterus contracts to shed the inner lining, and that contracting is what causes period cramps. This is why you experience them just before and during your period. These contractions are caused by the release of a compound called prostaglandin. The more prostaglandin you have, the more likely you are to experience period cramping.
You may also experience cramping later in your monthly cycle, during ovulation. Ovulation occurs around day 14 of a 28-day cycle. Before and during ovulation you may experience mild cramping that could be located on one side of your lower abdomen.
What if it Isn’t a Period Cramp?
Most of the time, period cramping isn’t so severe you need to seek medical attention. If you’re experiencing cramps that are absolutely debilitating, there could be an underlying cause.
Here are some causes of severe cramping:
Endometriosis is a condition where the tissues that normally line your uterus develop outside your uterus, in other parts of your body, usually the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Endometriosis is extremely painful and can cause severe cramping and heavy bleeding.
Endometrial tissue cannot exit your body through your monthly cycle, like the lining of your uterus. As such, it can create painful cysts that need medical attention for removal.
Extreme cramping and bleeding isn’t the only sign of endometriosis. You may also experience:
- Trouble becoming pregnant
- Pain during sex
- Irregular periods
Intrauterine Devices (IUD)
An IUD is a form of birth control that is inserted into your uterus. It may or may not contain hormones. An IUD prevents pregnancy by making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant in your uterus.
While IUDs are a good form of birth control for some, they can cause cramping, irregular periods, and heavier periods than normal. Your doctor can discuss whether an IUD is a good option for you, or help you make a decision about removal if you’re experiencing serious cramps from yours.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a common condition affecting one in ten women. This condition causes an imbalance of hormones particularly characterized by an increase in androgens. This condition can make periods heavy and prolonged and can cause severe period cramping.
You’ll have other symptoms if you have PCOS, including:
- Unexplained weight gain
- Excess facial and body hair
- Skin tags and areas of hyperpigmentation
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
PID is actually an infection of the female sexual reproductive organs. It can be caused by sexually transmitted diseases. PID can cause severe period-like cramping along with other symptoms like:
- Foul-smelling discharge
- Bleeding during or after sex
- Spotting between periods
How to Tell if it Isn’t Just a Period Cramp
Normally, cramps that aren’t related to your period, or cramps that indicate an underlying condition like the ones above, are accompanied by other symptoms. The cramps will also be more intense than you’d normally experience with your period.
Period cramps are usually manageable with proper period care items, like the ones we will talk about below. If you cannot get relief from your cramps, and you have other symptoms, talk to your doctor to find out if you need further treatment.
How to Get Relief from Period Cramps
Understanding why you get period cramps can help you appreciate that your body is doing what it should do, but it doesn’t help you get relief. When you’ve got a busy schedule, you just want relief that is fast, easy, and convenient.
Rael offers holistic period care products that help you have better, easier periods. We can help you handle your period cramps so you can handle your day.
Rael Heating Patches
Nothing is more effective on period cramps than warmth, but sitting down with an electric heating pad strapped to your lap isn’t always an option when you’re on the go. The solution? Rael’s all-natural heating patches.
Our patches are designed to be worn inside your underwear to provide you with all-day heat relief. Our patches warm to the perfect temperature to increase blood flow and help ease your cramps so you can feel better fast.
Our heat patches are also free from chemicals that could irritate your skin or disrupt your hormones, so you never have to worry that using them could be harmful. At Rael, we believe period care should be natural, effective, and safe.
Sometimes, physical activity is the last thing you feel like doing when your cramps, but getting some exercise can help relieve your symptoms. Studies show exercise increases blood flow which can help you get rid of cramps fast and effectively.
Even if you have a 20-minute lunch break, you can still fit in a quick walk, which can get your heart pumping and help get rid of your cramps.
When you’re done, freshen up with an all-natural feminine wipe, like the ones available from Rael. Stashing these in your gym bag, purse, or desk drawer means you can get a little refresher whenever you need them.
Even if you’re not an expert when it comes to essential oils, you can use them to get relief for period cramps. Combining oils with your heating patch can not only provide a double layer of relief for cramping, it’s also a great way to create a relaxing mood with a sweet-smelling scent.
The best oils to use for period cramps are lavender and sage. These oils are known for creating a sense of relaxation and promoting comfort. Gently massage a few drops onto your abdomen or diffuse the oil in your office or room to help get relief.
The Bottom Line
Period cramps feel pretty uncomfortable, but they shouldn’t take you out of the game for long. If they’re so severe you’re missing out on a lot of life (calling out for work or school, or missing a lot of social events) there could be something bigger going on.
You can get relief from period cramps by using holistic remedies like exercise, essential oils, and all-natural heating patches available from Rael. Our patches are made with plant-based ingredients that heat to a comfortable and therapeutic temperature to give you relief when you need it most.
Your period is your body’s way of telling you how powerful it is. Embrace your cycle with the best period care products from Rael and have a better period.