5 Drinks That May Help Ease Period Cramps
If you're like the majority of people who menstruate, getting your period can only mean one thing: the cramps are next. Period pain is most often caused by chemicals called prostaglandins, which trigger the muscles and blood vessels of the uterus to contract. The cramps that occur as a result usually last for the first few days of your period, then subside as the bleeding gets lighter. But the fact that period cramps are typically short-lived is little comfort when you're in excruciating pain.
Thankfully, there are a number of remedies that help many people find relief, from pain medicines to heating pads to practices like yoga. Even certain ingredients in your diet can profoundly impact how you feel during your period — and that includes the ones you drink. If you battle cramps on a monthly basis, the beverages in this list may offer some relief. Just remember, if your period pain lasts longer than a few days, you may have an underlying condition like endometriosis or fibroids. Be sure to talk to your doctor, who can help you investigate further.
Yes, cocoa can be a dream for period relief. Not only can a warm cup of cocoa satisfy a chocolate craving, but it can also provide a boost of magnesium, a mineral that "may help reduce water retention and relax muscles, which can help with period cramps," Amy Roskin, MD, ob-gyn and chief medical officer at Favor, tells POPSUGAR.
It's best to skip the premixed Swiss Miss hot cocoa envelopes, which can be loaded with sugar and don't contain a ton of natural cocoa. Instead, make your own cozy drink by mixing unsweetened cocoa powder, 100 percent pure maple syrup, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt into some warm milk. Make it dairy if you can — milk and other dairy products have been linked to less menstrual pain, making it a perfect base.
The suggestion to drink more water may sound boring, but this simple act could offer serious relief for period cramps. "The uterus is a muscle, and just as your legs cramp when dehydrated, so will your uterus," says Kenosha Gleaton, MD, ob-gyn and medical advisor of Natalist. Not a fan of plain water? Try some seltzer or infused water for a little flavor.
A nutritious smoothie is easy to sip on when you aren't feeling your best, and with the right ingredients, it may help combat period pain, too. "Compounds called prostaglandins can make period pain worse and are driven by inflammation," Melissa Azzaro, RDN, LD, host of the podcast "Hormonally Yours," tells POPSUGAR. That's why she recommends drinking a smoothie containing anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids — found in foods like walnut butter, blueberries, flax seeds, and leafy greens — which may help lower prostaglandins and ease period cramps.
Dr. Roskin agrees, noting that smoothies can also be made with calcium- and potassium-rich foods like Greek yogurt and bananas, "which might similarly help reduce period pain."
Ginger or Turmeric Tea
"Ginger contains gingerol and turmeric contains curcumin, both of which may help with period pain and inflammation," Azzaro says. Sipping on some ginger or turmeric tea is a simple way to include these powerful ingredients in your diet.
Fiber can support healthy digestion during your period and throughout your cycle, Dr. Roskin explains, and because it helps to reduce estrogen levels, it may also relieve menstrual cramps. One serving of prune juice contains 2.56 grams of fiber, making it a perfect choice when on your period.