Bad Blood: A Menstrual Cramp Survival Guide

In honor of the eleventh anniversary of my first ever period, my body has decided to gift me with what feel like probably the worst cramps I’ve ever had. I’m sorry if this is too much information for you, but I had to tell someone. Actually I had to tell everyone. Does anyone else have this habit? I can’t stop talking about my period. At NYC Autostraddle brunch a few months ago the only fun fact I had to share with my table as we introduced ourselves was a period-related story (it involved my diva cup exploding all over my yellow silk shorts in a rest-stop in New Jersey, I’ll tell you guys about it another time).

Some people are blessed with the ability to feel their cramps to the fullest and not have their lives ruined about it, like my friend Viveca, who had this to say: “Last week during my woodworking class I had a cramp attack while I was sharpening a chisel and I thought, This is one of the gayest moments of my life, so I decided to take a seat and enjoy it. Then the cramps went away and I built a table.” We can’t all be brave table-building menstrual warriors, though.  I’ve spent this whole week in various made-up yoga positions on my couch, listening to the period playlist, weeping into a glass of red wine and obsessively googling to see if science or paganism or just someone compassionate out there in the universe can save my poor tortured uterus.

if only i had a tree to hide in

But regardless of the real/not real medical advice on the internet, there are of course some Old Reliables that I always turn to. With that in mind, I polled some fellow Autostraddlers for their favorite coping tricks. Everyone is different and not everything is going to work for everyone, but I think it’s really useful for people who get their period to share what makes them feel better so that we can all benefit.

My cramps are a full-body experience involving not just my uterus but my thighs and my back and my boobs too, and I have this really amazing microwave aromatherapy heating pad that I can essentially wrap around myself like a burrito. It smells like chamomile and lavender, which calms me down when I’m about to go into cramp-panic overdrive. I highly recommend getting yourself one, just be careful not to microwave it for too long; I burned a hole through my first one. Sometimes I can get my dog to be my heating pad, but usually she needs to just do her, which I respect. Fonseca gave me a hot tip about a vibrating hot water bottle, and it looks fairly life changing.

Speaking of things that vibrate, having an orgasm can help alleviate cramps. I guess my main problem with this solution is how exactly to go from being doubled over in pain to being in the mood to orgasm. I feel the same way about advice related to working out. Like, I can barely stand up, how am I supposed to get on a treadmill? However, the times in my life when I have been motivated enough to go for a run, it has actually really made me feel better. I’m also told that crunches help.

None of the fake yoga positions I tried made me feel better — my approximation of a child pose just seemed to concentrate the pain to one area. Laneia suggested a partner stretch in which you lay face up on a bed and have someone push down on your hipbones with crossed arms so that they are pushing your pelvic area open in addition to down.  This has the effect of increasing blood flow and also making one feel “so good” and also “vulnerable.” Just be careful they don’t push too hard and bruise your pelvic area.

kind of like this

Another thing that helps me is drinking wine. Beer or really anything carbonated makes my cramps worse because I’m already bloated enough to float through the air like a miserable, bleeding hot air balloon. There are also some foods that tend to increase bloating, like dairy products and also randomly broccoli, so I try to stay away from those. Though I always crave chocolate, I feel like it makes me feel worse. Food that actually makes me feel better include bananas and dark leafy greens.

Also, I’ve learned the hard way that wearing pants that are as close to sweatpants as possible is important. I used to forget to avoid tight jeans when I had my period which resulted in a conundrum over whether to find a way to unbotton my pants in public or just suffer in silence. I now rely heavily on soft pants like legging jeans because people in New York judge me for wearing sweatpants in public (I need a new city).  Avoiding a tight horrible waistband is the main reason I love wearing onesies, though I know many other people have very polarized feelings about them and they are not really weather appropriate for my current menstrual cycle.

Finally, I really wish I was brave enough to go at it without help from the medicine cabinet, but alas I am not. The only (non-smoke-able) medicine that’s ever really helped me is naproxen.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Please tell me your best cramp fixes. I need you!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Gabrielle Korn

Gabrielle Korn is a writer living in Los Angeles with her wife and dog.

Gabrielle has written 95 articles for us.


    • Yeah I know the feeling. I was up till 1am last night crying with a bottle of Midol and a heating pad and a room-temperature water bottle. I will say that heat does help a ton. Haven’t tried this one yet but I heart ginger helps a bit like either tea or candies or something of the sort. Hot showers (no matter how miserable it sounds to move a foot from your bed) they feel really nice. The heat runs on your lower back and relaxes the muscles and the steam helps you feel cleaner and more refreshed.

  1. This arrived just in time. The only thing that has ever helped me (and I have horrific cramps, used to send me into anxiety driven vomit sessions when I was in highschool) is lots of deep breathing and curling into bed on my side (post-smokeable-medicine-consumption.) On days like today though, where I had to struggle through a lecture on romantic poets, I have no solid advice.

  2. Ibuprofen, all the way. More importantly, ibuprofen before you start feeling awful. Every month, I think no, I’ll be fine, I don’t need it, and then 12 hours I am so regretful. Also, taking the afternoon off from work and sleeping it out (obv not everyone can, but if you are able to, yes). My sick days from work are a string of afternoons every 28-30 days.

    • yes. ibuprofen before going to sleep, not ibuprofen whilst acutally trying to sleep. I am not a big fan of medication but seriously, I need to just get a full night of sleep especially during my menstruation.

    • I’ve always found that Naproxen Sodium (Aleve) works best for me. An ex of mine who I think had even worst cramps than I do (and mine are pretty awful, I typically puke I’m in so much pain) was prescribed a high dosage naproxen sodium by her doctor for cramps.

    • “ibuprofen before you start feeling awful”

      THIS. I would take it the second my period started, before the cramps started.

  3. Birth control pills. I know, I know. I’m queer too. However, I suffered with endometriosis (horrible cramps, PMS from hell, etc.)for decades. The best method I found to manage the grief and pain was on again/off again BCPs. I fear for my liver and kidneys with all the Ibuprofen I have consumed over the years. There is no shame in managing a hormonally induced hell with hormones.

    • I agree!
      I haven’t had sex with a man in years (since I came out to myself)but I’m still on birth control. I’m still on birth control because my uterus hates me.
      At A-Camp, as soon as I took out my birth control, before anyone even asked, I had to explain myself. I’m not having sexual relations with men, just controlling my uterus trying to murder me.

    • my BCPs give me great skin, no cramps, barely any bleeding at all and thus saves me money on pads/tampons/pain meds as well as expensive skin care, aka i could never afford to quit them!

      i am feeling bad about the whole synthetic-hormones-leaking-into-nature-stuff tho. REALLY bad. but right now my priority is paying rent, so what to do?

    • I would to that too, but the last time I took the pill (for two months, because I wanted to travel without cramps) I could predict at what time of the day exactly I wanted to kill myself. Every day. So, no pill for me…

      • Liking your comment seems too bleak, but yeah – same here. Though I was on them for a lot longer than 2 months before it occurred to me that the start of the pills magically coincided with the start of my daily and extremely regular mood swings. Made my cramps worse too. Very annoying.

    • Yeah, I’m on the pill because of dysmennorrhea (really painful periods, in my case due to cramps).

      It isn’t a solution for every woman, because some women’s bodies don’t like the pill for other reasons (for example, my mom is allergic to it). But it’s definitely one to consider if your period is really painful. For me, I basically couldn’t do anything except writhe in pain if I didn’t take the ibuprofen in time to hold the cramps off at the pass. The last straw was when I almost flunked my choir class in college because I had to miss one of the dress rehearsals because of cramps.

      One perk of taking b.c. for reasons other than “sexual activity that might result in pregnancy” is that, at least according to my gyno, you don’t have to take it at the exact same time everyday. Although that might just be for my pill. is a really good website with information on some of the different types of pills and what you would need to think about, and they can also send you daily reminders for when to take it (with fun usually-sex-related trivia in them).

  4. So true- bathtub, bathtub, bathtub. get some stuff from Lush, bring in your wine and the vibrating waterbottlething that im about to look up.

    • Standing bent-over in a hot shower so the water can pound my lower back plus a glass of red wine or a joint after does the trick for me, most of the time. (This works even better if you’re bent over in the shower with company, just saying.)

      If it’s really bad I curl up with my hot laptop on my belly and watch something funny. Somehow laughing seems to loosen the cramps up

    • I love Lush, but for some reason I can never get the bubble bars to produce as many bubbles as they promise. They smell good though! And the bath bombs are awesome!

  5. Sorry, I am getting to that point too. The older I am getting the worse they are getting. I see it as my bodies revenge for not being hetero and pregnant. X)

    My advice is similar to yours and Fonseca’s.

    Last time this occurred, my gf filled up her hiking waterpack-(without the backpack,obvs) up with warm to hot water, wrapped it in a towel or whatever and I just curled up around it and passed out. :)

    Then again if that doesn’t work there is always Ibuprofen 800 mg … *chuckles evil-ly*

  6. I have learned when I run/workout more than normal right before aunt flo comes to town my cramps aren’t as bad. HOWEVER when that motivation is diminished and I hate myself for it, I concentrate on other sensations than cramp pain. My favorite remedy is heating pad on the back and a cold cold wash cloth on my lower bellay. The colder the better because then I am thinking about the cold rather than the cramps. Cold and hot. Hot and cold.
    But you must do all these things while watching Lifetime. Its the only way they’ll work.

  7. I used to get terrible cramps, so I would take a ton of ibuprofen on a regularly basis, in off-label quantities (following the advice of a family doctor who was maybe not great at her job?) And then I gave myself an NSAID-induced ulcer because of all the ibuprofen I was taking. So I can’t ever take NSAIDs again (ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen etc), so NOW when I get terrible cramps I have to make do with acetaminophen (Tylenol) which is sometimes better than nothing and sometimes leaves me writhing in pain for several hours and then vomiting. Which happened this past Friday!

    My cramps seem strongly correlated to my stress/anxiety levels, which is helpful except that if I knew a foolproof way to obliterate stress/anxiety there would be a lot of things better about my life than just the cramps. But if you can get a head start on de-stressing ahead of your period, it might help—often once the cramps set in I get in panicked freakout WORLD IS ENDING mode (because it feels like the world is ending!) and it’s reeeeeeally hard to walk that back.

    Also: try putting a heating pad between your thighs (not touching your bits, because ow, but just below) instead of right on your abdomen, and also try the “Cramp ReLeaf” tincture they sell at Whole Foods (smells funky but all you taste is the cinnamon/cardamom). Neither method will knock the pain out for me but they’ll sometimes help take the edge off. AND HYDRATE, proactively and during the cramps. Dehydration makes them so much worse!

    • I would suggest going to another doctor, or a gynecologist! If they are that bad and u dont have any painkillers.. there must be something else u can do!

      • I currently only have insurance for emergencies/hospitalization, so I’m on my own for now. But I agree with you on principle!

  8. I’ve always had horrible cramps, but over the past couple years it progressed to entire abdominal pain. Just touching anywhere on my abdomen was excrutiating. And while the ibuprofen would somewhat reduce the cramps, it didn’t touch the pain everywhere else. It got to the point where I was taking 1000mg, sometimes 1200, of ibuprofen every 5 hours (no way I could go the whole 6) just to survive, and that still left me curled up in a ball for 2 days unable to do anything. Once I even passed out from the pain and was taken to the hospital where I was given morphine and Toradol, and it finally took the edge off enough that I wasn’t whimpering constantly. Still didn’t take the pain away completely though! And I’m someone who doesn’t take pills or medications unless I absolutely have to, so it’s not like I have a tolerance built up to anything – except maybe Motrin, lol.

    Now I’m on the Depo Provera shot, and though this is only my first shot, I will say that so far it has given me my life back. For the first two months I didn’t have a period at all. I’m due to get the shot again next week, and I have been bleeding and cramping off and on the last couple weeks, but nothing that a normal dose of ibuprofen doesn’t take away!

  9. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out and together with arms limp at your sides. Let your head fall so your chin touches your chest. (After awhile my legs get all tingly but if you’re super in-shape/bendy maybe yours won’t.) Then, navigate with your head super slow from one side to the other and return to center. –Remember to breathe; you won’t be able to breathe very deeply in this position.– Lastly, creepy slow raise your head and your knees up to your chest simultaneously.

    The person who taught me this said it concentrates blood flow to your hips. I find it helps my cramps somewhat.

  10. Lots of water and showers and, as often as possible, black/dark clothing so no one can see the bloodstains. And don’t wear cute underwear, ‘cuz they’ll get stained and then you’ll be sad.

  11. My regimen is to take 400-800 mg of ibuprofen every 4-6 hours, drink a ton of peppermint tea, curl up with a microwaved hot pack and watch some Netflix. If I’m really lucky, my girlfriend will rub my back and make me the happiest (menstruating) girl in the world.

  12. midol as soon as I wake up (and as soon as enough time has passed to avoid ODing), a nalgene filled with hot water wrapped in a hiking sock, herbal tea (raspberry leaf tea has been helpful in the past), and if all else fails, curling up in the tub under hot running water. hope you feel better <3

  13. It’s kind of creepy how Gabrielle is so in touch with what my uterus is doing right now.

    I usually deal by crying a lot, Also, taking baths and crying more, and visualizing myself being able to leave my body because I feel like I can’t stay in it anymore. Vicodin works for me about half the time but it’s never a sure thing.

  14. Co-codamol!! Which you can actually combine with Ibuprofen. Also improvised yoga, showering a lot, sleeping where possible, and thinking about the concept of ‘dys-appearance’ as theorised by Leder (1990, p.84).

  15. The clit. Theclittheclittheclit. It is a magical beast, and doesn’t mind if you rub it outside of a pad so you don’t get all grossified. Also, I feel like this is the perfect time to mention my favoritest poem in the world, performed by Andrea Gibson and Kate Wirsing:

    You’re welcome.

  16. Mefenamic acid…. I am no longer a vomiting, fainty, doubled over, sweating, mess once a month. Literally cannot speak highly enough of this drug.. it’s a prescription drug in the UK so I’m not sure the situation in the US… but it’s worth bugging your doctor for!

    • Yes this. In Australia it is called ponstan. And here we can get small packs over the counter. I still get prescriptions for it to make it cheaper, but good in an emergency.
      The key is to take it the day before your period starts.
      Also you can have paracetamol at the same time which is marvelous.

    • Somehow I’ve never met anyone else who takes Ponstel, and I basically have considered it next-to-worthless since I got a prescription like four years ago. My periods are fucking atrocious. My cramps leave me in tremendous pain to the point where I just sit around naked (fuck that elastic waistband on sweatpants–NAKED OR DIE) covered in heating pads, crying, punching the floor, moaning in a really unsexy way, and trying to sleep off and on for as long as four days, plus my digestive system becomes totally fucked, and I get really really depressed. My typical attempt at remedy is a ton of advil every 4 hours (I pretty much always begin to develop an ulcer by the end of my cramps), which…is better than nothing, but. My gynecologist basically just shrugged and of course suggested birth control, but other women in my family have had serious health complication in response to it and so I’ve always been really scared to go there. So then she prescribed me Ponstel. I’ve found it to be ever-so-slightly more numbing of the pain than Advil, but it takes AGES to finally set in, and it’s more dangerous to take often and for days on end than just Advil. That’s the only relief it provides me, though.
      So I am amazed to hear that it does so much for you! That is really awesome. Turns out the drug is great, just doesn’t work on me. I hope that it works that well for a lot of people who deal with this shit, because the world can use far less people who suffer from debilitating cramps and other menstrual symptoms. I have always wondered why there weren’t more remedies out there–we can fix SO MUCH, but we can’t soothe menstrual cramps?! And then I look at how important women’s issues are considered in general, and I understand why there’s currently no fix. Sigh. I hope someday there will be. My mother’s periods were very similar to mine, and if I ever lose my senses enough to have a child, I wouldn’t want that child to go through the same damn thing. And it would be really nice to not have to drag myself to work while feeling like I was about to lose the will to live at any moment.

  17. “it involved my diva cup exploding all over my yellow silk shorts in a rest-stop in New Jersey.” – my actual worst nightmare.

    I’m also in the red wine and crying camp.

    • This is why I’m scared to use the diva cup. I feel like I’d totally be the sort of person to do something like that.

      (also I don’t actually mind tampons that much)

    • I wonder what a “menstrual camp” entails?

      Maybe it was like the time at music camp in middle school when our whole cabin shared our first-period stories late at night?

  18. I’ve always had ferocious cramps, and I still use a drug cocktail of 600mg of ibuprofen and prescription tylenol with codiene, but drinking 1 cup of a raspberry leaf tea infusion daily has helped me out quite a bit.

    Get a 4 cup mason jar and buy a large amount of loose raspberry leaf tea, which you can get at most food co-ops and maybe some natural food/health stores. Or you can order it from Frontier Organic online. Steep one cup of the loose leaf tea in 4 cups of hot water for 8 hours. Drain out the leaves and keep the tea in the fridge. Then drink a cup of the tea a day, it doesn’t taste great, but it is high in magnesium which I heard is good for the muscles in the uterus. Taking a magnesium supplement has never helped me, but the tea truly works!

    • Also, if you have access to raspberry bushes in a garden or backyard, you can easily harvest your own leaves and dry them (the fresh leaves can cause stomach upset). Just hang a twig full o’ leaves upside down inside a paper bag, in a dry spot, for a few days or until they’re dry and crispaay. Then take the leaves off the twig–using gloves, though, they’re prickly! You can store the dried leaves for several months, but like any herb they’ll gradually lose efficacy.

  19. Sometimes, I make a fist with my hand and shove it into my stomach/uterus area really hard. Or, my stomach fat and pull out…

    They are both very temporary fixes, but sometimes you’re desperate, y’know?

  20. I have a list of things I do for my body just before my period:
    + no tight clothes/waistbands
    + stay warm (wear sweaters! long tank tops to cover your middle!)
    + no milk products the day before/first 2 days (I used to be lactose intolerant) (except this is terrible when it comes early and I’ve just had a milkshake and then have nausea on top of the cramps)
    + drink water

    and then during cramps:
    + I like to sit as much as possible. Exercise is good for before they get bad, but once it’s hit a certain point, standing and walking just exacerbates everything. If I can just sit down and stay there then often it’s perfectly bearable.
    + take naproxen sodium as soon as I feel it. Even/especially in the middle of the night.

    Get your trusted friend/roommate/loved one to gently but insistently press deep into the bowl of your pelvis, especially right inside the hipbones. Those are the muscles that are freaking out, so even though for the first 30 seconds it feels like you couldn’t possibly uncurl or relax enough to let someone get in there, if you breathe and let them in, it starts to feel so so good. Often my stomach will gurgle because all of my guts start to relax, which also helps to ease up the cramps. This method has cut cramps that promised to go on for hours into 20-minute affairs for me. Afterward apply heat and relax lying down.

    And sometimes I do all that and it’s still terrible. C’est la vie. (I don’t want any kind of hormone anything, that’s one of the biggest pluses of being in a lesbian relationship in my book – no need for birth control.)

    • YES THIS! I always make my girlfriend push on my cramps, I can’t tell if she thinks it’s weird or not but she’s a good sport. Laying on a small pillow has a similar effect but feels slightly less amazing.

  21. I have terrible pain in my belly and my legs, usually my lower back too, and plain Ibuprofen does nothing on me. I had an electric blanket that also didn’t work, but ever since I got a small aromatherapy heating pad it got much better, to be honest. And I take these analgesics that are also meant to relax your muscles, it’s called Antalgin here in Spain, and they work! they don’t block all the pain out, but at least I can get on with my life during those days instead of being a sweaty fainting mess.

  22. Even more feelings to share…

    Does anyone else find that rocking or clenching rhythmically helps? When my cramps go into overdrive (they’re usually bad enough that I have an afternoon or two where I’m not functional enough to stand for long, but every few months it tips way past that, to the can’t-stop-whimpering place) I find that automatically I twitch a hand open or closed or rock slightly while lying on my side in fetal position. It’s like it’s playing a trick on my nervous system, because when I’m actively moving like that, my brain can’t focus properly on the pain of the cramp contraction. Of course, hours of that is exhausting, plus afterward more than just your abdominal/back muscles are sore.

    I also get a really lovely floaty high when the cramps finally do abate, like my body is just sooo spaced out in gratitude. Not worth it, but a nice perk.

    • Yeah, I do that too. Whenever my cramps are really really bad and I have to lie down, I find myself rocking myself, twitching a leg, etc. It does help!

  23. Usually the cramps aren’t too bad, but often I’ll get really bad back pain. So I take a bunch of ibuprofen and lay on a heating pad in the one position that gives my back some relief.

  24. Whenever I lose weight my period pain gets unbearable. It’s bizarre. When I am over 64 kgs, I just have mild naseua, am a little bit teary, and have a half a day or so of cramps that respond to painkillers.
    When I am under, I have to call in sick because I literally can’t walk, I’m borderline suicidal, and my stomach rejects all food.

    • Me too! I gained weight in college and had significantly less painful cramps. Now that I’ve lost the weight again my cramps are HORRIFIC. It’s so strange.

  25. I usually just take a shit ton of ibuprofen in addition to the shit ton I take for chronic migraines. Then my friends and my mom tell me I’m going to damage my liver and then I’m like no, that’s tylenol, ibuprofen will just fuck up my kidneys and give me a stomach ulcer. Also, the fan on my computer doesn’t work so well, so it gets super hot and I put the computer on my stomach and watch tv on netlfix like toddlers and tiaras or parks and rec. Theorectically, I ‘m into alternative medicine but I really can’t make myself stop taking ibuprofen.

  26. I’m very confused by all the advice about taking ibuprofen, as I’ve always been told to avoid it like the plague during periods because it liquifies the blood and turns you into the Niagara falls. Have I been misinformed?

    Medication-wise, my doctor used to prescribe me pills called Apranax that are a mix of paracetamol and anti-inflammatory stuff, it worked pretty well. I don’t have the monies for them anymore so when my periods are really bad I take codein’d Dafalgan (paracetamol), I got crapload of boxes of that stuff at the hospital after my appendicitis. I only take them when the pain is unbearable though, ’cause they turn me into a sleepy zombie.

    Apart from that, anything warm on the belly works GREAT. I strongly advise everyone to buy a heating pad! Even just the cheapest you find if you’re broke, you won’t regret it.

    The sex advice, though… no. Just no. At least not for me – having an orgasm multiplies the pain by a gazillion, and my clit is so sensitive during periods that merely touching it is painful.
    If you’ve never tried it before and wanna give it a go, be prepared for the worst.

    • I’m not sure…my doctor even recommends taking it one to two days before to keep the cramps at bay, sort of hit them before they start. I’m sure there are different schools of thought on these things, though.

      I recommend a crampbark tincture. Sure, it tastes like sweaty kelp marinated in pee, but it works.

    • Ibuprofen is a progesterone inhibitor, from what I’ve been told. Progesterone is one of the hormones that can cause cramps, so.

  27. In Germany the magic medication is called Buscopan Plus. Apparently it’s a mixture of Butylscopolamin and Paracetamol and it’s the only thing that works for me… in combination with:
    – warm water bottle
    – naps
    – raspberry leaf tea
    – cuddling
    – hot showers
    – chocolate
    – sad movies/documentaries
    – ginger-tea
    – banana-coconut milkshakes
    – pressing the magic wand to my lower belly
    – Autostraddle
    – foot-baths/massages
    – eating ice cream
    – making kitten noises to attract girlfriend
    – the fleurcup
    – masturbating
    – reading about 1900s feminists/amazons/athletes/heroines in general.

  28. My techniques:
    – As mentioned earlier, birth control. I know I’m queer, but my uterus hates me! I need the help.
    – Ibuprofen 600 mgs as needed
    – Hot packs
    – Laying on my back, massaging over my uterus (most helpful out of everything, they literally stop the cramps on that side)
    – Sleep

  29. General cramp question: does anyone ever get extremely painful muscle spasms in their quads/hams in addition to their menstrual cramps? This started about a year ago for me and I have no idea what it means.

  30. Does anyone else think that their uterus just laughs at Midol’s sad attempt to help with the pain? Anyway, I live on Aleve and even that’s not enough sometimes.

    Also, in reflexology there is a part of the foot that you can rub to help. It’s on the inside part of the foot near the arch and ankle bone. That’s helps a little too.

    Does anyone else have to wear the overnight pads with wings ALL the time because their flow is pretty much like a train wreck in their pants?

    P.S. I’m so glad to see that other ladies have stains on their panties. I’m not the only one who has “period panties” for that time of the month.

    • “Does anyone else have to wear the overnight pads with wings ALL the time because their flow is pretty much like a train wreck in their pants?”

      Oh, yes. Right now, in fact!

      And as for Midol, it doesn’t seem to touch the pain or cramping, but my god, does it make me violently cheerful. It’s actually a bit horrifying.

      • exactly. Midol is for appearance’s sake so the world does not know the depths of my misery. That’s all I use it for – the false bravado.

        This may be TMI, but I got my period getting back from camp and it was one of the lightest, gentlest, easiest ones of the entire year. Is there nothing camp can’t give?

  31. time to debunk the myth of heat. my circuit training teacher told me that the best way to beat cramps is ice. the uterus is a muscle and cramps are caused when that muscle is expanding and contracting. ice makes the muscle contract and not expand therefore lessening the pain. just fill a ziploc bag with ice and place it around your belly button area, or wherever else you are feeling pain. i gurantee you will feel better. heat does the opposite it makes the uterus expand ergo cause more pain.
    sidenote have a barrier (such as a tshirt or paper towel) between you and the ice. i got a second degree ice burn from an ice gel pack and it is NOT fun!
    also ice like 10-15 minutes at a time, this will also prevent ice burns.

  32. I get a 12 hour period of pretty bad cramps sometimes. and back pain too. if it is really bad my thighs ache too. Ponstan Rocks! or Ibuprofen (BEFORE cramps get really bad),and /or the following; HOt Water Bottle or heating pad on the belly, hot bath, no tampons during heavy flow, pot is good, loose pants, less coffee or sugar, less stress, and breathe. it all helps.

  33. I’ve always had the worst cramps. I remember they’ve gotten so bad I’ve actually passed out due to pain. For me it’s always been a careful balance between taking ibuprofen before the cramps actually start, and if that doesn’t work; Icy Hot and a warm water bottle/towel. Also just laying around and whining sometimes helps.

    Honestly, just making sure you do something before they become full blown cramps is the most important damage control. Sometimes I’ll take Tylenol PM (or the generic equivalent) before bed because I’ve actually been waking up with cramps lately. (talk about a bad start to the day!)

    Anyway, hope this helps!

    • I always take Naproxen Sodium (aleve) instead of ibuprofin. Not sure why, just seems to work better for me… and it lasts 8-12 hours. But yes, the key point is recognizing when it’s coming and taking it BEFORE the dreaded arrival.

      My worst cramps are ALWAYS when I’ve been drinking too heavily the night before and slept through the “warning cramps” that my ovaries are about to declare warfare. By the time I wake up, it’s WWIII and I’m crying fetal position on the bathroom floor.

  34. So at one point in high school I had cramps so bad I would throw up and curl in a ball for hours while I cried myself to sleep. This went on for a couple months before I got on birth control.
    I went off of it after two years or so, and now my cramps aren’t nearly as bad. I just end up sleeping them off and begging out of anything I can.
    So yeah. Birth control helps. So does ibuprofen.

  35. Try drinking Oregano Tea. What you do is boil some water, pour it into a cup, add about half to a teaspoon full of oregano, let it sit for about two/three minutes, and you could either drink the oregano tea with or without the oregano leaves in it. What it does is that Oregano helps increase the blood flow. That way, the blood would not be concentrated on that area of the body (a.k.a. cramp. The only side effect to this is that it will make you pee more frequently than usual. But if you continue to drink this for about one or two cups a day for three to five days, it will soon shorten your torturous period.

    • oh, right, oregano tea, I’d forgotten about that! my math tutor told me about it and it’s really good

      • oregano (aka marjoram) tea also works well as a mouthwash! it has antibacterial properties and folks back in the day used to use it, along with mint and sage, to clean their teeth.

        • Toats off topic, but as a lover of Oregano I have to say that while they belong to the same family, Oregano and Marjoram are not one and the same. Oregano is much more intense in flavor, the flowers are different… I wonder though if their effects in tea are similar for relieving cramps … hmmm

  36. Alright, ladies and gentlequeers and people who have periods, Ima lay this all out for you. Years of experience/bleeding all over my sheets/endometriosis/PAIN have taught me a few things. I don’t use hormonal schtuff because my family has clotting issues, and also I’m terrified that I’ll be one of those people who goes on BC and becomes suicidal. So.

    1. I have a prescription for naproxen that’s about 2.5 times as strong as regular Aleve that I use during this time. I’m lucky enough to have $5 copays for generics (woo grad school) BUT if you don’t and you want to try something like this, get a pill cutter. DON’T DRINK ANY BOOZE WITH THIS AND DON’T DO IT LONGER THAN YOU NEED TO. YOUR LIVER IS IMPORTANT. Make sure you start taking naproxen as soon as you feel the teeny twinges that your period is coming on. For me it actually reduces the severity of bleeding if I get it beforehand. Also notable, it interacts with some psychiatric meds and decreases their efficacy (Lexapro) so if that’s an issue, be careful. (I take it anyway).

    2. If you have crazy bleeding problems, like I do, the Divacup is awesome BUT it’s not good enough by itself. A couple years ago I switched to just Divacup and reusable pads as backup. Not putting all sorts of crap in/on my body seems to have actually made my period not quite as bad. And sometimes that still doesn’t handle it, so I sleep on a towel if I think it’s going to be really, really terrible. Also, reusable pads seem to fit in my American Eagle trunks! That’s cute, right?

    3. Icyhot is nice.

    4. If you are at all sensitive to dairy, NO FUCKING DAIRY WHATSOEVER. Eat almond milk/coconut milk ice cream if you need your chocolate. It’s all good.

    5. If this is feasible, chiropractic care or acupuncture can help a lot. I got adjusted (thanks, Groupon!) just before my last period and it was actually a million times better. So that’s a thing.

    • (Re: chiropractic, a lot of you are probably poor like me, but chiropractors tend to be willing to work with you if you don’t have insurance or it doesn’t cover it)

    • Yes, naproxen sodium! I use the OTC stuff, but it still makes such a bigger dent in the pain than anything else. My ex also had a prescription for the heavier stuff for period pain.

      About period ‘equipment’… even on that rare month where my period is “not so bad” (note: “not so bad” means: I’m not fetal position on the bathroom floor vomiting from the pain), the moment I put a tampon in, my cramps intensify like nobody’s business. I learned this the hard way by NOT calling into work, thinking I’m fine, until about 1.5 hours later and the cramps become crazy bad, only to be relieved by taking that damn tampon out. This is only for the first few days and I’m not sure if it has something to do with the heavy flow, or what. But I really don’t trust those little fuckers.

      • Totally agree that tampons make cramps way worse. But if just bleeding onto a pad is ridiculous, using natural sea sponges as tampons works great. You don’t have to buy the brand ones that are all small and round and smooth, you can just get a cheap big one and cut it yourself.

        I also sometimes put a few drops of clary sage oil onto the sea sponge, and that often helps cut down the cramps. It also creates a slightly surprising but magical warming sensation. And makes you smell good instead of like period crotch when you emerge from the bathroom after doing damage control.

  37. I have horrible cramps and always managed them with tons of Aleve, a heating pad, and sleeping whenever I could. Also, I had surgery recently, and while I was recovering my period started. So I took some Percocet thinking it would help with the cramps. It absolutely did not. Barely took the edge off of them. I was really disappointed.

    My mom used to have horrific cramps (like labor pains were a breeze cramps). She developed a mental technique as a girl where she laid flat in a dark room, closed her eyes, and moved her hands like she was physically pulling the pain out of her stomach, tied the pain into a knot, and set it off to the side. Apparently it worked really well, so if normal stuff isn’t cutting it, try that maybe?

    • i remember one time this nurse saying to me that i should stop complaining about my period pain because it was nothing compared to labor pains…i wanted to smack her

  38. I had the worst cramps for 30 years…just horrible, sometimes vomiting pain. The things that worked for me were 2-4 OTC naproxen every 12 hours AND 1-2 acetaminophen every six hours. If that drug combo still wasn’t enough to completely eliminate the pain, I would use heating pad/cornbag which would usually work.

    That was the last thirty or so years. However, four months ago my doctor started me on different thyroid medication to raise my free T3…one of the benefits has been the almost complete end of menstrual cramps. So, I don’t know if that can help anyone else, but if you are on thyroid medication anyway, then maybe…but the first bit up above always worked for me

  39. My coping mechanism is to pretend I’m a werewolf so my agonizing pain has a purpose. And also then I have a convenient excuse for attacking anyone who gets in my way. Visualization works.

    • YES. these pangs are just the first signs of your full moon transition so everybody OUT OF THE WAY. this is the best idea i have ever read.

  40. Cuddling. How has no one said cuddling yet? That really is the only good cramps-remedy.

    Also, the diva cup grosses me out x100.

    • It seems gross to start and now I think tampons are really gross and I don’t get them at all anymore.

      Like, that dried out feeling when it didn’t work quite right? omg worst. and tampons smell worse. If for any reason I need to use them, I only use OB (shoutout to you!), but I prefer my Divacup.

      • I always found tampons gross and horrible, personally. I used to use them only when absolutely necessary (like swimming/lifeguarding).

      • Yes that dried out feeling is the worst. Cups are *way* more comfortable for me, and also *way* more leak proof. Especially better for traveling. I can *usually* get away with emptying the cup only 2-3 times a day which is *way* less frequent than I’d need to change tampons.

        Also. Diva cups are better than tampons or pads for enabling sexy times (although not sexy times with penetration, for that there is something disposable called the Instead cup, which I’m not totally sold on).

      • For me, PMS/cramps are much worse when my general stress level is high. So stress management is key.

        My holistic docs have recommended chaste tree berry or vitex as a supplement, although I can’t really tell if its been effective because I haven’t been good about taking it.

        Magnesium also helps a lot. I am not great at taking extra supplements but there is high magnesium content in *chocolate*. Also in epsom salts. I highly recommend taking a decadent bath with lots of epsom salts (and whatever other scents, bubbles, company, etc. you would like).

        Also I am another person on the orgasm bandwagon. Protip: Diva cups are a great enabler of sexy times (although not for penetration-type sexy times).

      • This thread + the relevant rant in the Vagina Monologues makes me wonder if I’m the only person who doesn’t really mind tampons.

        But disposable pads suck right? Like, way to make my period even worse by giving me those painful chafing sores. I’m thinking of switching to reusable cloth pads but I’m worried that I am too lazy for them/not sure how to pick the right ones.

        • Oh they are so easy! Just get any ones that have wings and a snap and you’re pretty much set. They smell less (believe it or not) and when the whole mess is over, I soak them in oxiclean for a little bit then throw them in the laundry.

          If I were more on top of my stuff, I’d probably just put them in a bucket of cold water as soon as I’m done with each one and I bet the oxiclean wouldn’t even be necessary.

          Easy and you NEVER SURPRISE RUN OUT.

    • I am so glad I switched to the diva cup. I only have tampons for emergencies when friends are over. I also really love sea sponges you cant feel them at all. I think the less product being used or felt really helps with my cramps. Also, edibles. My special brownies and a glass of wine cure every single problem in life.

      Also, why does it gross you out so much? Just curious. Is it seeing the blood?

      • Special brownies are awesome! But I’ve also discovered that you can make hash oil chocolate bars. The only problem is that it’s basically impossible to tell how strong each batch is before trying it, so I’ve accidentally dosed myself right to sleep before: not a bad thing, just make sure you don’t have anything important to do for 4-6 hours.

      • It’s more of a germ thing for me I think. I know it’s bad for the world and stuff, but I think that anything that touches blood is a one time use thing…like a band aid. So I’m not willing to try diva cup. I realize I’m probably wrong, but I can’t get past that.

        • If it makes you feel better, the materials that cups are made of (mostly silicone or thermoplastic elastomer) are pretty well impregnable. It’s the same stuff they make to use other medical devices, including implanted ones. There’s not a lot of places for germs to grab onto on a menstrual cup.

  41. This post came at the right time! I am always interested in finding out more non-medicinal ways to deal with period pain. My doctor actually prescribed me narcotics for my period. It’s pretty bad..I woke up vomiting 2 nights ago because of my period!! like wtf!

  42. this is fitting since I happen to be on my period, and I hate it.
    what do I do?
    chocolate. heating pad. loose clothing. I usually wear panties and boxers over them since wearing pads with boxers is kinda complicated and it helps me feel warmer.
    mefenamic acid is truly a godsend,and it’s far cheaper than other drugs.
    baths help too.

    although sometimes I just have to curl up in pain under five billion blankets and watch pride and prejudice or imagine me and you.

    • that is one of the reasons i switched to All Tampons All The Time… because using pads with boxers was super awkward.

      though, i now wear boxer briefs more frequently and i feel like pads would work fine with those. but now the habit is formed.

  43. Muscle relaxers are really the only thing that have really helped me when my cramps are at their worst. You can probably get a prescription for the long-acting kind fairly easily because they’re not addictive or anything. Also I find that a mild diuretic/water pill helps a little. A lot of pms-intended pain relievers have a diuretic in them already (I like Pamprin the best).

    ALSO Tylenol makes these great peel-and-stick type heating pads that you can stick on your abdomen under your pants and they’ve saved my life on multiple occasions. I actually keep a box in my car for emergencies (driving long distances with unbearable cramps is the WORST).

    (ps does smokeable medicine really help?)

    • Michelle: It’s somewhat subjective (like most drugs) but it really does help me a lot. THC is a mild pain reliever and a muscle relaxant, but mostly it distracts me so that I’m busy paying attention to how delicious this curry tastes or how soft my chenille blanket is to really be bothered too much by the cramps. Unfortunately certain kinds of weed tend to make my mood swings a lot worse so I try to stick with green hash or edibles made with oil. (Hash, which is concentrated marijuana, tends to have more physical than mental effects outside of relaxation and general sleepiness. This is called a body high)

  44. If I am at home, I lay down in the tub of my shower so that the hot water hits me right in the abdomen (I set the shower head on that massage setting), and I basically close my eyes and I just get out when I wake up from my nap… though… I always keep my head in a position where I will not be weirdly drinking water/drowning. Then I curl up in a ball in my bed while naked wrapped in my towel, and pull my sheets up so I am bundled and I sleep for hours. Granted, this is all the ideal situation… It doesnt always happen…

    When I am at school. I email my teachers and say fuck it… and I take a sleeping pill and go to bed.

  45. 2 x ibuprofen + 2 x paracetamol AS SOON as I start to feel that slight weird feeling. If I miss that window ’cause I’m asleep, or distracted, or don’t have access to painkillers where I am, then it is just curling up in a bathroom praying for death for hours until I can stand up again. Shout out to all the employers over the years who have not fired me over this.

  46. the grossest period-related trick i have ever learned is also the most effective.

    on your heaviest day, pop some aspirin (which is a mild blood thinner) about 20 minutes before you get in the shower. hop in the shower, uh, ‘unplugged’. then get ready for CLOTS CLOTS CLOTS CLOTS CLOTS CLOTS (EVERYBODY). depending on how, uh, enterprising you want to get with helping gravity do its thing. this helps everything get cleared out a little faster which helps you get back to feeling better sooner.

    at least it does for me.

    also pot.

    and also somehow using a divacup makes me less crampy than using tampons.

  47. I feel like if you were a koala you wouldn’t have cramps but you’d also have to spend all your time eating toxic leaves and probably having chlamydia. So I guess good and bad points?

  48. Someone has probably already said this but if you know you’re getting your period in a few days, I’ve found that paired with working out, if I have lots of orgasms then I don’t get as intense of cramps. The cramps that I do get after working out/coming a bunch, are totally manageable with a light painkiller or the occasional hot water bottle.

    So it’s like orgasms during but without having to power through the current period feelings to get to the orgasms.

    • I think this is true after I broke up when an ex (2 weeks ago) I didn’t have steady orgasms just dyke problems. While dating her my cramps did not hurt, I’m pretty sure it is due to ‘happy feelings of dating a lady” delirium and steady orgasms. Now that we broke up because the magic is gone (other host of issues), I was seriously considering “calling” for the steady orgasms because I’m cramping, listening to the T&S “The Con” album and I crying from the pain.

      I hate taking meds so I too want to find organic ways of dealing with this pain.

  49. For anyone who’s going through serious hell, if you can afford a hysteroscopy (camera surgery), it’s very worth it. I did that, various cysts were removed, and then I stopped my period for 6 months with hormone injections. Since then things have been far easier to deal with, and with luck will stay that way.

  50. Top Ten Ways to Deal with Bleeding From your Uterus

    1. Taking OTC painkillers religiously starting on day 28.

    2. Sleeping for most of your period/pretending to be dead.

    3. Special Brownies. (see number 1)

    4. Sootheze Honey Bear. It’s basically a furry hotpack, 5lbs of flax/herbs, and you put it in the microwave and it loves you better than any pillowcase-come-beanbag full of rice ever can.

    5. Swearing like a sailor and hating everyone. Seriously. People who swear handle pain better. I read it on the internet.

    6. Tea. But only because it’s hot/delicious/made out of water. Does it matter what kind? The kind that makes you happy.

    7. Soup (see number 6).

    8.Wearing a cup, because then for a couple hours you can be in complete denial. Coping mechanism? A great one.

    9.Calling in sick on my “burning day” aka day 2, in which I am reborn in blood and fire. I’m like Fawkes! HP Period jokes aside.

    10. Vibrators/someone who REALLY LOVES YOU/dark towels.
    For obvious reasons. See also showerheads and bathtub faucets.

    Addendum: I guess some people have good luck with BC but I have never been on the pill (super bad about remembering to take pills). I got the shot a couple weeks ago and maybe it’ll help with my period but so far it’s just made me crazy emotional. Feelings.

  51. Can I also state that I’m happy that is is actually a conversation? I FEEL LESS ALONE IN MY MISERY!!!
    I started syncing with my sister since we are living together and we talk about this ALL THE TIME!! She gets gas (hehe) during her period I want to crawl to my hole and curl up into a ball.

    She really feels bad for me because 1) I’m a gay lady 2) I don’t want to have any children 3) Since living together and having our periods sync up, we use a shit ton of recycled toilet paper and that shit is expensive!

    Also, I don’t get mad on my period I get mad when people assume I’m on my period when I’m upset. Grrr.

  52. I know it may be hard to work oneself up for sexy-times, but one night, I had NO Aleve around and was in Japan and everything was closed at 3 AM. I was in so much pain I puked my guts out and started searching on the internet for remedies, ANYTHING to help with the pain. The masturbation trick worked like a CHARM. Apparently your cramps are caused by the uterus contracting, and having an orgasm lessens the spasms and releases a natural painkiller into your system.

    So lock the doors, lower the blinds, fire up that vibrator, put on some sexy queer porno, and go to town. Your uterus will thank you for it.

  53. I have a mirena coil. It is an IUD which releases a very tiny dose of hormone. I now have no periods, no cramps, nothing. It is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself, and it lasts five years! win!

  54. Well I have horrible back cramps like 100 people walked on it. Usually ibuprofen helps and laying down on the bed. (when I can do it of course).

    Also my period occurs every three weeks and my gynecologist said “ok your analisis are fine your ovaries are fine, so yeah no probs about that”
    Yeah no problem,except having to endure that pain more frequently -.-

  55. I’m lucky enough to live in a country where paracetamol + codeine is sold over the counter. It helps… kinda.

    Mostly I just hate everything, though.

  56. Personally, I eat rice porridge. It tends to make me feel better.

    I think I’m lucky in that my cramps usually aren’t too bad (better than when I used to be on Depo, and I got seemingly random, inconsistent periods), but I find sitting for some time (and playing video games!) seems to help me when they act up.

  57. I second sleeping on a towel. I’ve used those warm water bottles wrapped in cloth. When it’s really bad, I stay at home and stay close to the bathroom. For some reason, I believe I can get rid of most of my clots in that one day. I do indulge in chocolate and salty chips during this time.

  58. Also, I’ve gone to midtown in sweatpants if I absolutely needed to go there for an appointment, I just meet judgmental stares with a happy-not-wearing-pants look.

  59. -ibuprofen
    -coffee, if caffeine is something that you do. if not, very hot tea.
    -very hot showers
    -i warm up a sock full of rice in lieu of a heating pad.
    -i tend to smoke a lot also
    -quilts. if you don’t have quilts then idk what to tell you
    -stay warm! nothing is worse than cramping and shivering
    -eat something. your mom would agree with me.

  60. I found that getting older helps. When I turned 28, I started bleeding a lot less. The first day is still painful and I bleed quite a bit, but now I only bleed on the first night, which is much more convenient!

    Also, my lower back doesn’t normally hurt… Except when I haven’t slept enough! And if I’m really sleep-deprived, then it hurts like hell and I can hardly stand. So get some sleep!

  61. I’m definitely going to be trying some new cramp remedies in a few days. Thanks for this article and the comments!

    When my lower back really hurts and I’m somewhere that a hot shower isn’t an option, I clench my fists and bury my knuckles into either side, then rock them back and forth. Obviously it doesn’t completely stop it hurting and the effect doesn’t last long but I find it’s better than nothing.

    I never thought I would feel lucky about my usual period pain until reading through these comments. I feel so sorry for everyone vomiting and passing out!

  62. Yo. Smoke some green, wheeze your way into the fetal position, and sip a light black tea stewed with ginger, fennel, cardamom, and a little bit of honey and milk. I was raised by an Indian grandmother and let me tell you, they know about those uterus things. Peace.

  63. give your uterus a name, and use it liberally. she-who-must-not-be-named thereby loses all power. for instance, i have never had regular periods, so i named my uterus Cato. because it attacks me when i least expect.

  64. i see a really awesome natural doctor who gives me this herbal formula called Fpms made by systemic formulas. i’m pretty sure you can only get it through a professional naturopath, but it’s amazing. you take the “prescribed” number of capsules the week before and during your period. it has always worked really well for me; i can definitely tell a difference between the times i remember to take it and when i forget/run out. also, if you’re into getting massage therapy or having energetic work done, both have helped me too.

  65. Okay, question:

    I remember reading in Seventeen or something back in the day that caffeine is really bad for you when you’re on your period. Is this true? They said it was because stimulants constrict blood vessels, and depressants do the opposite (which I assume is why alcohol always makes me feel better on my period). But then why does chocolate make you feel better instead of worse?

    Also, does this really matter when I drink like 3 bottles of Diet Coke a day and probably have such a massive tolerance for caffeine that it probably won’t do anything anyway?

  66. Thanks be to AS for bringing me this article and the commenters for all your awesome tips. I’ll definitely be trying like all of them in about…two weeks. I’ve wanted to start BC for years because I get in SO MUCH TROUBLE at school. I literally have to miss about 4 days every month because I can do nothing but lay in various positions in my bathroom with a heating pad or hot bath and occasionally taking some pamprin. The only thing that has ever helped my cramps well enough for me to be able to play video games curled up with a heating pad instead of whimpering on the floor naked (because fuck clothes my entire skin feels like it’s raw and it HURTS) is heating pad + pamprin + tampons (pads are the scourge of the Earth and if I don’t have a tampon in the cramps are 50 times worse). I just don’t want to EVER have to deal with the bleeding and shit ever again unless I decide to have kids. Seriously. Why does my mom have to freak out every time I suggest getting BC. I’ve told her I’m gay. I’m not sleeping with guys. I JUST WANT TO BE ABLE TO FUNCTION PROPERLY OMF.

    • And not really worried about BC potentially giving me suicidal thoughts since every time I start feeling the cramps I start getting those.

    • When I was in high school, I had to have my parents stash some ibuprofen and acetaminophen with the secretaries for me so I could take them as soon as my period started, and not have to go home once every 28 days because the cramps were so bad.

      Definitely don’t miss those days!

  67. First of all, I love my Diva Cup! As someone who would routinely go through two boxes of super absorbent tampons per month (which are about NZ$9 each) it paid for itself very quickly. Although I did recently manage to drop it (whilst full) into my pants (which were around my ankles at the time) and that was mildly traumatic…

    Second, I’m really surprised that no one else here has tried plant-derived progesterone… Actually, I’m not that surprised because I had to fight to get a prescription for the stuff. In high school I started getting terrible periods- I would be horribly nauseated for 2 weeks a month (the nausea would start before my period) coupled with the kind of cramps I once described as “like being punched with a fist of knives” and pervasive feelings of sadness (only partly due to spending half of the month hating my uterus). Finally, I got my male GP to refer me to a female hormone specialist. Of course he didn’t want to because I was apparently “too young for this sort of thing” (really? The evidence would suggest otherwise).

    Apparently my symptoms were due to the fact that my progesterone wasn’t cutting off as abruptly as it should have, it was tapering off instead (I know that’s a vague description). I got given this oil, which you apply to your skin every day for two weeks (starting one week after your period ends) and BAM! One cycle later I was symptom free. I’ve taken the odd pain killer since, but my symptoms have never been as bad since.

    Frankly, I think e expectation that we should suffer through cramps is ridiculous. It’s a sign that our hormones are a bit out of whack and in many cases there’s a solution. Unfortunately there seems to be an attitude amongst a lot of health care providers that it’s just something we should live with, or treat superficially with drugs that can do us harm (I’m looking at you, Ibuprofen). I totally support the use of HBC pills as a potential treatment, but women have a hormonal cycle (meaning that the amounts of estrogen and progesterone we produce varies throughout the month) so taking the same amount of a hormone every day might not cut it.

  68. i am not a medical professional or doctor, but some of the descriptions here in the comments have me wondering if endometriosis could be a contributing factor. i think this illness is largely under-diagnosed because there is no clear cure (and true diagnosis requires a form of surgery that is not alway covered by health insurance unless there is a documented infertility problem, so if you are not trying to get pregnant and you have the symptoms it is not likely that the doctors will do much). instead, it is about pain management (often birth control pills are used) and/or trying to abate the progression with hormone therapy or something. anyway it seems there are degrees of the illness from mild to severe. maybe there is someone on here who has experience with this.

    • I agree, the level of pain and how disabled so many commenters are is freaking me out, I had endometriosis and almost couldn’t finish grad school. I’m sad though because I realize a lot don’t have health insurance and the treatments for it aren’t effective for a lot of people but at least some could get some humane pain management if diagnosed properly and don’t have an asshole doctor.

  69. I dig period conversations.

    the cobra position
    the strongest painkillers one can get at (I take paracetamol & codeine) and these should be taken before the cramps get to fullblown evil
    hot water bottles: these work when nothing else does but also those heating pads look amazing
    a comfy dress (because I don’t like anything with a waistband when I’m bleeding from my uterus)
    good television
    just spend ALL DAY lying down if you possibly can

  70. I filled a tube sock with rice and beans (because I am mexican, of course) and I microwave that for a minute and BAM — it doesn’t smell of lavender or vanilla or anything delicious and wonderful, but it a time of panic it does the trick and also totally inexpensive because I just had those things in my house already.

    I have noticed that ibuprofen dilutes my blood and makes me overfill my moon cup much more so than if I don’t take anything – so for many reasons I’d rather not take any drugs at all (even the smokable kind, it makes me puke and I just don’t need to add insult to injury or whatever the expression is) but if I have to I will.

    Also, cuddles. And that Koala — I am saving that for next month. I feel like it will definitely help.

  71. I reread this article and comments every month. Last month and this month I’ve had the worst cramps I’ve ever had and nothing has really helped at all. But reading all of these comments is nice because I feel less alone in my suffering. Also I have some lortabs left over from a back injury and taking one of those before bed takes off the edge just enough so that I can fall asleep.

    I’m thinking one more month like this and I’ll see a doctor because my cramps actually woke me up at 2:30am and also my flow has gotten a lot heavier lately. Like a super + tampon lasted me 2 hours this morning. Also I think I might throw up if I get out of bed.

  72. I over 30 years old and have been getting painful periods since I was 13. I experience severe pain in my lower abdomen and lower back, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and have almost fainted a few times. Last year, I had to visit the emergency room 3 times. I’ve tried Premenstrual Tension from BrainSync Technology and I saw that if I listen to this for about 3-4 days before the strike I am more present more able to handle myself… and this helped immensely. Give it a try This has helped a lot.

  73. Okay I just dig these things! Thanks for starting the thread ‘cuz thats actually one of the things that usually help me out :) But I figured I’d just pop my own little response in here in the fork of a list I call the “Menstrual Madness Survival Guide”
    -hate everything
    -play anyform of music that helps you (although angry screamo although pretty good might not help in this situation)
    -food or drinks that comfort you and bring warm fuzzy feelings to your “hurt zones”
    -different “yoga-like” positions
    -whatever show you could die happy watching (bronie all the way/reality tv/cartoons or whatevs makes you happy)
    – (the last thing I can really think of) a beautiful girl of whom you love who can give amazing rubs and can suprisingly function as a cuddly warm heating fanny-pack of fucking joy and omawgawdizsogewd ahahsgdgsjxjskckfjdfffffff :)
    HOPE IT HELPS! (Sorry for mispells I did this on my KindleFire)

  74. Hi
    Its actually comforting to know that I’m not alone and even more so when I read your remedies. My cramps are like unwelcome guests who drop in when they are least expected or when I’m not prepared.
    I find it utterly difficult to divert my mind when I’ve cramps. Please suggest me permanent solution. I hate them amd never want to even think of them let alone experience. I get into a kind of hysteria or deliriousness or whatever. I either keep shouting at people or blabbering some non sense. This time(I’m right now having them) they are mild but continuous and annoying (as always). Does/did anyone have a similar experience? I’ve had different kinds of pain but this one seems to be bad or rather worst. I’m sorry if I’ve wasted your time. I feel good to think that someone might read this and understand.
    pardon any mistakes in my language( its not my mother tongue) please.

  75. Oh man. My cramps were so awful. T.T I would get referred pain down my legs and my back and body would ache. I’d get cold and shaky and nauseous. I was up to taking 1200 mg of ibuprofen at a time to take the edge off and be able to function, but developed gastritis because of it. I finally said “enough is enough,” and went to talk to a gynecologist who wanted to put me on the pill (*coughcough* putz), but I’ve been on that in the past and while it helped, it didn’t help enough. I pushed, and they inserted an IUD in me in December 2012. It was one of the most painful experiences of my life, seeing as how I wasn’t sexually active at the time and haven’t birthed any children. I almost passed out. I cramped BADLY for a month straight. I literally did nothing. I sat in my recliner on my computer with a heating pad because I couldn’t take ibuprofen or any NSAIDS anymore. It sucked. But then it stopped. :’D It all stopped! I have maybe four periods a year and they’re mostly manageable without pain meds. I can take ibuprofen again, but now am back down to 800 mg at a time ONCE to take away the pain. What a life saver that thing was. And it lasts 5 years.

    • My IUD (well, Mirena IUS but same deal) insertion was the most painful experience of my life too! And I was sexually active/my vagina was used to having stuff in it at the time. So know that you’re not the only one!

  76. Also is it weird that before I got my IUD exercise, orgasm, or anything like that made my cramps 10x worse? I still get crampy because of sex sometimes, but I think that’s more because my uterus is like “AH THERE IS SOMETHING PLASTIC IN ME OUTOUTOUT!”

  77. Back when I used to get not-fun cramps (before the days of my glorious, glorious Mirena IUS) my mum, who’s a doctor, got me taking 4 normal-strength Ibuprofens AS SOON as I felt the inkling of cramps/my period taking hold of my body. It would knock those cramps right outta the park before they even dug their claws in. Bam!

  78. Chaste Tree Berry before and during my period helps with my cramps and helps regulate my moods so that I’m not acting like Godzilla in need of a candy bar (like my son says), black licorice, soft Australian kind, and, mysteriously, best of all: horse radish. I tend to frequent the local horsey sauce fast food joint at this time of the month. Ibuprofen and presym work awesome if taken together too.

  79. For some reason whenever I lay with my head between my wall and my toilet, I feel so much better. As gross as that is, once my cramps reach their fullest potential, all I can do is cry, whine, and do whatever it takes so make them go away. Trust me, I know how you feel. One time I thought I might be on that show “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant.” My grandmother once told me that the only difference between labor pains and period cramps was that when period cramps are over you get blood and when labor is over you get a baby. She said she liked labor better than period cramps because after is was over it’s so satisfying.

  80. i recommend ibuprofen 800 mg ,. lasts me 7-8 hours! naproxen does NOTHING for me.
    also theres a product called Oona pms 2 take 3-5 AFTER youve taken the ibuprofen i promise youll be able to function the rest of the day

  81. Does anyone have any tips to relieve cramps and other symptoms? I am still in high school, but I every period my uterus tries to kill me. The only thing i can keep down it tea, and even then it is only for a little while, I have tried all over the counter pain meds as well as some natural remedies but they only dull the pain. Exercise makes my cramps worse and I cannot afford to miss much school because I am in three advanced classes. I have tried to go on birth control but it gave me headaches and made all of my symptoms worse. Sorry if it seems like I am complaining, but I am getting desperate.

  82. I’m on my thirties, and my period pain is getting worse every year. Or was it…? About 8 months ago I started doing active yoga once per week, and after about 2 months of that the pain suddenly decreased and I didn’t even need to take ibuprofen, for the first time in more than 10y. But then I stopped the yoga, and the pain came back in full force. Actually, I had one of my most painful periods just last month, when I wasn’t expect it and so decided to wear tight jeans to work. How I regretted it… I was a sweaty, shaking, crying (and I don’t cry), doubling over with pain, almost passing out mess. I’m used to it all – the excruciating back pain, thighs pain etc, but this time it’s like my body was trying to really kill me (or at least make me question living – more precisely, living as a female).

    This month I decided to do everything I could to make it better. And as strange and unbelieving as it sounds, I’m already on my second day and I’ve only felt mild (totally bearable) pain so far!!! 8O

    …Here’s what I did:
    – took hot showers.
    – ate spicy (chilly pepper + Indian curry) chicken soup. (well actually it happened to be duck lol)
    – drank lots of herbal teas. For eg., ginger + orange/lemon peel + spices…
    – ate tons of bananas. 5 so far to be precise. And also indulged in other fruits and protein, besides the soup. Skipped the coffee, and also everything that I suspected could worsen the bloating, like dairy.
    – wore loose clothing, especially in the area between my thighs and upper belly.
    – stayed warm. I usually have cold extremities, so I’m wearing wool socks and warm wrist cloth bands. Kept my lower back super warm at all times. But strangely my belly prefers to be kept airy, so I wear layers of open jackets lol.
    – I find that sitting straight worsens the pain. It’s like my pelvic area is being crushed by the rest of my upper body, and the pressure on my groin cuts the blood flow to my legs… Idk. But today I’ve basically just stood, walked a lot to keep the blood flowing and my feet warm (btw so great to live in an age of smartphones and tablets!), reclined on the couch with my kidneys/lower back area supported by a good pillow, and laid down. I love laying down on my back with my legs up the most.

    I also did the oil pulling thing for the first time, but I don’t believe it could have such a big, sudden impact.

    All the best to you blood warriors!!

  83. (Ah, I’ve also started to do the reusable pads exclusively. They’re organic, and allow the vagina to breathe… But idk if they influence the pain at all, because I also used them last month, u know when I felt I was dying, …but not exclusively. Maybe they’re jealous shits.)

  84. Update: I’ve started to feel it. So I upped the chilly on my ginger-citrus-earlgrey-spices tea (Ajlaroa, maybe the spiciness helps us?) switched to warmer sweatpants (chilly legs = more pain), ate kiwis (lol no reason, my body just asked for it instead of banana), relaxed more on the bed/couch/recliner (because walking was making me tense my muscles = more pain), and did the massage just next/under the pelvic bone, on the front, to help the crazy contracting uterus muscles, which helped!!! Thank you… fellow Autostraddle fan, that I forgot the name of and can’t find again.

    I’m also following my Japanese ex-partner’s advice, to put my legs on the yoga butterfly pose, and then try to go forward as much as possible (as if trying to put my face into the ground while keeping my back straight), and then coming up again, and repeat several times. They say we need to open up the groin/inner thighs area to improve the blood flow. Also, do deep massage between the back pelvic bones, and around those tendons that connect the groin to the inner thighs. They read it on a Japanese book, and it does help some.

    I’m considering trying the warm rice sock if the pain decides to scream suddenly again, and I’ve gotten curious about that progesterone oil. By the way, the pain started right after I was woken up after only 3h of sleep and had to get up suddenly and got cold).

    But all in all, I still didn’t need to take ibuprofen or muscle relaxant so far, which is a miracle. I’m gonna go back to Buzzfeed videos now. (laughing is also great at endorphins inducing [=natural painkillers] and muscle relaxing! Oh, and keeping you distracted! lol)

  85. Honestly the only things that help me are sleep, bubble baths and Vicodin. The last one is the only thing that works for more than a few minutes at a time. I wish I had better fixes cause no one’s gonna write me a prescription for Vicodin just to deal with cramps when I *could* just lose 50 pounds.

  86. I get horrible horrible cramps so I was prescribed naproxen, which didn’t really seem to do enough. Now I’m on the pill and it has changed my life unimaginably for the better! Whereas before I was having 7- or 8-day-long periods that were incredibly, up-with-cold-sweats-in-the-night, curl-up-in-a-ball-all-the-time painful for at least the first three days, I now get 3- or 4-day-long periods that are only manageably painful on day one, and that are ridiculously predictable. I love it.

  87. Hot bath Epsom salt and a big cup of ginger tea. I also use with pain killers, pms essential oil put a little on the uterus and apply heat. And weird one hemp seed oil. Helps the deadly cramps and if you get like I do a huge pimple clears that up to and hemp seed oil makes a good dressing for the dark leafy greens.

  88. I’m still in high school which means it’s easy for me to just take the day off. When I’m home alone I like to put a heating pad on my stomach and try to focus on something else like a movie or a video game. But if my family is at home I lay in bed and make them get me food. Sometimes my dad moves the tv into my room so I can watch it and he doesn’t have to awkwardly talk to me well “it’s my time of the month”.

  89. I’ve suffered for years with terrible cramps and an incredibly heavy flow (gross!) and for over the counter medicinal help I take a combo of naproxen, paracetamol, codeine (low dosage) and buscopan. About 6 or 7 years ago the heaviness of the flow got so out of control I went to my Doc for help, feeling that it really wasn’t ‘normal’ to be using super plus tampons and still having to change them every hour! Especially at 26 years old! Anyway after a bunch of tests ruling lots of things out he decided I just had a heavy flow and probably always would. BUT he put me on Transexamic acid tablets to help reduce the blood loss and indirectly they really help with the cramps too! The theory is that the body produces these things called prostaglandins to help the womb expel the blood once it realises you are not pregnant each month; hence cramps. The more blood, the more prostaglandins, the more intense the cramps. I think you see where I’m going with this. I’m not saying it’s a miracle cure or would work for everyone but thought I’d put it out there in case it helps someone.

Comments are closed.