Menstrual Cramps: Causes, 13 Home Remedies + Prevention Tips

Medically reviewed by Dr. Katie Corazzo, ND
by Pooja Karkala

Period cramps are medically known as dysmenorrhea. They are mainly caused due to the contraction and relaxation of the uterine muscles that occur during the menstrual cycle. This causes an extremely discomforting pain around the abdomen, lower back, and thighs. Some women also experience nausea, diarrhea, and severe headache. Yet, not every woman experiences painful menstruation; some manage to sail through this phase smoothly. But if you are among those who go through painful  menstruation every month, try the home remedies listed below for temporary relief. Read on for more information.

Home Remedies For Menstrual Cramps

1. Heating Pads

Applying heat to your lower abdomen may relieve cramps (1). Studies have shown that it is almost as effective as taking pain relievers like ibuprofen for reducing menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) (2).

You Will Need

A heating pad

What You Have To Do

  1. Place a heating pad or water bottle filled with hot water
  2. on your lower abdomen and lower back for about 10 minutes.
  3. Alternatively, you can also soak a clean washcloth in hot water, wring it, and place it on your abdomen and back.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this multiple times daily.

2. Essential Oils

a. Lavender Oil

Lavender essential oil is quite effective in treating period cramps due to its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties (3). Inhaling the oil relaxes you instantly (4).

You Will Need

  • 3-4 drops of lavender oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons of coconut or jojoba oil

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix lavender oil with coconut or jojoba oil.
  2. Apply the mixture to your lower abdomen and back.
  3. You can also put a few drops of lavender oil in a diffuser and inhale its vapors.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1-2 times daily.

b. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil contains menthol, which is a popular decongestant and has pain and anxiety-relieving properties (5). The wonderful aroma of peppermint can also help in overcoming nausea and headache, which are symptoms of period cramps (6), (7).

You Will Need

  • 3-4 drops of peppermint oil
  • 2 teaspoons of coconut or jojoba oil

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix peppermint oil with coconut or jojoba oil.
  2. Apply this mixture directly to your lower abdomen and back and massage gently.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily

3. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile is popular for relieving period cramps. It contains flavonoids that exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce pain and inflammation. Chamomile is also a natural antispasmodic and can help in relaxing the uterine muscles (8).

You Will Need

  • 1 chamomile tea bag
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • Honey

What You Have To Do

  1. Soak a chamomile tea bag in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes.
  2. Allow it to cool down a bit and then add some honey.
  3. Drink this tea daily.

How Often You Should Do This

Drink chamomile tea at least 2 times daily and a week before getting your periods.

4. Ginger

Ginger is a common ingredient used to relieve period cramps (9). The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger help in reducing the pain associated with menstrual cramps (10). It also helps cure nausea and calms an upset stomach (11).

You Will Need

  • 1 inch of ginger
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • Honey

What You Have To Do

  1. Steep an inch of ginger in a cup of hot water for about 10 minutes.
  2. Let it cool for a bit. Add honey to it.
  3. Drink it up.

How Often You Should Do This

Drink ginger tea 2-3 times daily.

5. Vitamin D

A single large dose of vitamin D was found to offer noticeable relief from menstrual pain and cramps (12).

Vitamin D can reduce the production of prostaglandin, which causes period cramps. However, since studies are limited, it is better to limit the dosage of vitamin D supplements for this purpose. But you can go ahead and increase your intake of vitamin D via your diet by consuming foods like fish, cheese, egg yolks, orange juice, and cereals.

6. Green Tea

Green tea contains flavonoids called catechins that give it its medicinal properties. Green tea is a natural antioxidant and also has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties (13), (14). This can help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with period cramps.

You Will Need

  • 1 teaspoon of green tea leaves
  • 1 cup of water
  • Honey

What You Have To Do

  1. Add the green tea leaves to a cup of water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes and strain it.
  3. Allow it to cool a bit and add some honey for flavor.
  4. Consume it.

How Often You Should Do This

Drink green tea 3-4 times daily.

7. Pickle Juice

Pickle juice, with its high sodium content, is an effective remedy for period cramps. It is known to relieve muscle cramps post-exercise quickly (15). Hence, it may be effective for menstrual cramps as well.

You Will Need

1/2 cup of pickle juice

What You Have To Do

Drink half a cup of pickle juice.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily, preferably right after you experience menstrual cramps.

Caution: Avoid taking pickle juice on an empty stomach.

8. Yogurt

Yogurt is a rich source of calcium and contains trace amounts of vitamin D. The intake of both calcium and vitamin D helps reduce the symptoms of PMS and relieves period cramps (16), (17).

You Will Need

1 cup of plain yogurt

What You Have To Do

Consume a bowl of plain yogurt.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 3-4 times daily when you are on your period.

9. Epsom Salt

Epsom salt has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties (18). Hence, it can help relieve period cramps and pain.

You Will Need

  • 1-2 cups of Epsom salt
  • Bathwater

What You Have To Do

  1. Add a cup or two of Epsom salt to a warm bath.
  2. Soak in the bathwater for 15-20 minutes.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2-3 days before your periods begin.

10. Fenugreek

Fenugreek seeds contain compounds like lysine and tryptophan-rich proteins, which account for a majority of their therapeutic properties. Fenugreek also possesses analgesic and pain-relieving properties, which can help reduce period cramps (19).

You Will Need

  • 2 teaspoons of fenugreek seeds
  • 1 glass of water

What You Have To Do

  1. Soak the fenugreek seeds in a glass of water overnight.
  2. Consume it on an empty stomach in the morning.

How Often You Should Do This

Drink this mixture once every morning, a couple of days before your periods begin.

11. Foot Massage

Your feet have pressure points that can help in providing immediate relief from period cramps. These points are usually located about three finger widths above your ankle bones. Gently massaging these points with your thumbs and fingers may help relieve period cramps and their symptoms, like bloating, insomnia, and dizziness (20). This massage is known as reflexology or zone therapy. However, this alone won’t help you get rid of period cramps. It can only provide temporary relief.

12. Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe vera has healing and anti-inflammatory properties and can help improve blood flow (21), (22). This can help in relieving painful period cramps.

You Will Need

1/4 cup of aloe vera juice

What You Have To Do

Consume aloe vera juice daily.

How Often You Should Do This

Start drinking aloe vera juice once a day, a few days before your period begins.

13. Lemon Juice

Lemon has anti-inflammatory properties (23). It is also rich in vitamin C, which helps with iron absorption (that is often lost during menstruation) and is good for your reproductive system (24), (25). Thus, lemon may help in providing relief from period cramps.

You Will Need

  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 glass of water
  • Honey

What You Have To Do

  1. Squeeze half a lemon into a glass of warm water and mix well.
  2. Add some honey to it and drink.

How Often You Should Do This

Have lemon juice once every morning on an empty stomach.

Apart from using these home remedies for period cramps, you can also follow the tips mentioned below to address the symptoms.

Preventive Tips

  • Have a healthy and balanced diet that consists of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
  • Consume less of sweet and salty foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Take less stress.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Practise meditation and yoga poses like Child’s Pose, Savasana, and Knees-to-chest Pose.
  • Drink plenty of water and fresh juices to keep yourself hydrated.
  • You can also undergo acupuncture treatment to get relief from period cramps if necessary.

Despite using the home remedies for period cramps and following the tips, if you do not obtain relief, visit a doctor immediately.

A few factors may also decide the severity of your muscle cramps, and they are discussed below.

What Causes Period Cramps?

  • Heavy blood flow.
  • Having your first baby.
  • Overproduction or sensitivity to a hormone called prostaglandin.
  • If you are younger than 20 or have just started your periods.

Period cramps are most often associated with a dull ache or pain in your lower abdomen or back. The symptoms are discussed below.

Symptoms Of Period Cramps

The common symptoms experienced during period cramps are:

  • A throbbing or cramping ache in your lower abdomen.
  • Dull or constant pain in your lower back.

Some women may also experience less common symptoms like

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Mild diarrhea
  • Fatigue and dizziness

Listed below are a few scenarios that require medical attention.

When To Visit A Doctor

You need to visit a doctor if

  • You are pregnant.
  • Your pain is worsening.
  • The menstrual cramps last longer than usual.
  • You develop a fever.
  • All your symptoms worsen and are more frequent.

In addition to following the home remedies for period cramps and tips mentioned in this article, you need to follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly to avoid the condition. If the pain persists or worsens, consult a gynecologist immediately.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

What are the best medicines for period cramps?

If you have severe period cramps, your doctor may prescribe medicines like ibuprofen.

Why am I having cramps but no period?

Cramps usually begin a day or two before your period starts and last until the second day. However, in some cases, cramps can be a result of pregnancy, a ruptured cyst, or an underlying medical condition.

How to stop period cramps at school?

If you experience cramps at school or while you are out, you can reduce their intensity by doing the following:

  1. Gently press at a pressure point below your abdomen that is usually about four finger widths below your navel.
  2. Breathe deeply to increase the level of oxygen in your blood.
  3. Gently massage your lower back and abdomen.

Why do I have cramps even though I am not pregnant or on my period?

Cramps can occur even if you do not have periods or aren’t pregnant. As mentioned earlier, medical conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, a ruptured ovarian cyst, etc. might cause cramps (26).

Does chocolate help with period cramps?

Yes, you will be thrilled to know that chocolate can help with period cramps in many ways. While the magnesium in chocolate can relieve the cramps and increase your energy, the endorphins or ‘happy hormones’ can make your mood better. Also, dark chocolates are rich in antioxidants and are hence great for your overall health.

What is the difference between period cramps and pregnancy cramps?

While period cramps usually last for just 3 or 4 days, pregnancy cramps can begin early in the pregnancy and often last from weeks to months.

What are the best sleeping positions for period pain?

The best sleeping position for period cramps is the fetal position. Sleeping in the fetal position not only reduces the blood flow but also relaxes the muscles around your abdomen, which results in lesser pain and cramps.

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Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
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Pooja Karkala

Pooja is a Mass Communications and Psychology graduate. Her education has helped her develop the perfect balance between what the reader wants to know and what the reader has to know. As a classical dancer, she has long, black hair, and she knows the struggle that goes into maintaining it. She believes in home remedies and grandma’s secrets for achieving beautiful, luscious hair. When she is not writing, she learns Kuchipudi, practices yoga, and creates doodles.
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