Whether you’ve talked about it in the weight room, read about it in a magazine, or seen a commercial on TV, chances are you’ve heard about testosterone replacement. The current media storm might lead one to believe this treatment is nothing but positive. But before you begin any kind of treatment, it’s important to understand the various therapies and discuss the pros and cons with your provider. If you think you may be low in testosterone, brush up on the basics before having that important conversation.

1. Supplement Yourself

Take calcium and magnesium supplements throughout the month, as these nutrients work in concert to aid muscle relaxation. You should aim for a total of about 1000mg of calcium daily, and up to 500mg of magnesium daily. If you experience loose stools, reduce the dose. (Note: we recommend you use calcium citrate, because it tends to be more easily absorbed into the system than calcium carbonate.)

2. Try a Tea

Raspberry leaf is considered to be a mild uterine tonic. Try a cup of raspberry leaf tea each day throughout the month. It is available at Whole Foods by the company Traditional Medicinals. Keep in mind you are looking for the herbal tea, not raspberry-flavored black tea!

3. Eat More Greens

Dark leafy greens are a dietary source of magnesium, calcium, and countless other micronutrients. These nutrients are essential for mediating muscle contractions. In Chinese dietary therapy, dark green vegetables are also considered to be mildly cleansing, which is what the body needs in a “stagnation” condition. Some greens such as dandelion greens (very bitter, but very helpful) also have a mild diuretic effect, which reduces bloating.

4. Cut Down on Coffee

Caffeine, especially from coffee, is a well-known vasoconstrictor – it makes blood vessels constrict. Indeed, it may cause the vessels that feed the uterus to tighten more than they do in non-coffee drinkers. If you’re a diehard coffee drinker and can’t cut it out entirely, try avoiding it just in the week before your period and see if you notice a change.

5. Use a Heating Pad

A heating pad or hot water bottle is a simple, tried and true way to reduce muscle spasms.

6. Try Acupuncture

Certain acupuncture points are thought to regulate blood flow through the abdominal cavity and relax the nervous system, which can help calm muscular contractions. Studies show that acupuncture is just as effective as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines for reducing pain.

In addition to pain relief, don’t be surprised if these changes also lead to better digestion, better sleep, and a steadier mood. However, if these measures aren’t enough to improve your quality of life, an acupuncturist or naturopath can offer you further refinement of natural strategies.

Also, keep in mind that excessively painful menstruation can be a sign of a more serious underlying medical issue, such as endometriosis, a uterine infection, or a problem with the uterine anatomy. Don’t forget to consult your primary care provider to make sure these possibilities are addressed, especially if you just can’t seem to get your pain under control.

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