Savoy, by some accounts, was a late bloomer when it came to getting her first period. She did not start until she was in the seventh grade. From the start her monthly menstrual cycle was a cause for trepidation. She would miss school on a regular basis every month during her cycle because the pain was so bad. “I needed help for menstrual cramps,” says Savoy [not her real name], now a 21-year-old Senior in college, in Northern California. “I would take the maximum dose of an over-the-counter pain reliever then muscle through it. When I turned 16, I was still having so many issues my parents discussed the situation with my doctor and I was put on high-dose birth control pills. That helped a lot.” (Since birth control pills sustain more reliable hormone levels, they can provide help for menstrual cramps.)
However, when Savoy entered her Junior year of high school she discovered something that had even better results in providing help for menstrual cramps: exercise. “I joined the high school cheer-leading squad, then the soccer team, and I discovered that the pain was subsiding more and more,” she says. “I was able to go off the birth control pills for the rest of high school.”
Dysmenorrhea — which translated means menstrual pain — affects scores of women. There are studies that indicate as many as 90% of young women experience intense pain during their periods, and it has become the number one reason for women missing school and work for this age group.
Physical workouts provide help for menstrual cramps because they let go beta-endorphins, which are internal opioids — your exclusive “human morphine,” according to leading obstetrician-gynecologists. Workouts create analgesia [paid relief] and assist in burning the prostaglandins — chemicals let go during menstruation that create muscle contractions — far quicker.
The number one type of workout for help for menstrual cramps, leading professionals agree, happens to be aerobic workouts — a workout that ramps your heart rate upward, like rapid walking, bicycle riding, aquatic undertakings like swimming or water polo, or, in winter when you can’t be outside, even ice-skating at a local ice rink. The key, one clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York quoted, “is that you endeavor to devote 30 minutes, three times a week, to intensive aerobic exercise.”
Savoy discovered a short time ago that her intense menstrual pain has returned, since laying off her regular exercise program due to a heavy class load at college. Her doctor wants to eliminate the chance it could be other problems, but she and Savoy are in agreement that her lack of strenuous exercise has to go by the wayside and her successful routine reinstated.
“The area around my college campus has a lot of hills with ups and downs, and I enjoy going on extended hikes with my Siberian husky puppy, Volk, so my goal is carving out that time again for exercise I know is help for menstrual cramps,” says Savoy.
Exercise for Help for Menstrual Cramps
The goal: You must work up a sweat by walking, running or whatever you choose, at a rapid pace. Ideally you should be capable of having a discussion with someone who is with you, but not so easily it does not require some effort. Do you need some incentive? Consider undertaking what Savoy does: Tackle the hills, or have your high energy dog accompany you.
The Reward: True help for menstrual cramps appears to arise from energetic physical activity, the type that ramps your heart rate upward and has you puffing like a steam engine. As this occurs your own near perfect machine known as the human body; let’s go of those endorphins that battle the menstrual cramp making chemicals that is a component of your menstrual cycle.
Now go get a Husky and run like the wind!