Can a plant-based diet help with period pains?

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

At least one in four women experiences distressing menstrual pain requiring a need for medication and absenteeism from work, study, or social activities. Painful menstruation, also known as dysmenorrhea, is caused by the contraction of the uterus during menstruation. These contractions are a normal part of the menstrual cycle and are caused by the release of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances that cause the uterus to contract.

Some women experience more intense contractions and cramping than others, which can lead to pain. Period pain should not be severe so speak to your healthcare provider if you are experiencing pain that is affecting your day-to-day life.

Some factors that can contribute to period pain include endometriosis, fibroids, adhesions, and pelvic inflammatory disease. Also, women who smoke, have high levels of stress, or have a low tolerance for pain may be more likely to experience period pain. 

What are some common ways to alleviate period pain?

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help reduce cramping and pain. Other common ways to alleviate period pains include:

Birth control pills, which can regulate hormones and reduce the severity of crams. 

Heat therapy, such as using a heating pad or a hot water bottle on the lower abdomen. 

Relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation. 

Acupuncture and massage. 

Exercise, which can increase blood flow and release endorphins.

Another approach worth trying is a mainly plant-based diet. A plant-based diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes has been shown to be associated with lower levels of inflammation in the body and may help alleviate period pain as its typically high in fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Additionally, plant-based diets are often low in saturated fat, which has been linked to an increased risk of menstrual pain. Please consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet. 

It’s important to note that different methods may work better for different people, and it’s worth trying a few different approaches to see what works best for you. It’s also important to work with your doctor if you have severe or chronic period pain, as there may be underlying conditions that need to be addressed.