|PMS Cramps: My Experience and Lessons|
|By Nicole G.|
I have always had a difficult time with menstrual cramping. Growing up, I used to be so jealous of my sister because she rarely complained about menstrual cramps. When I asked her why, she would just say that she “didn’t get them.”
Excuse me? How did she get so lucky, while I was subject to such physical torture that sometimes I found myself rolled into a ball on the floor crying? Nothing I did to alleviate my cramps seemed to work. I tried heating pads, recommended cramping exercises, Midol and other pain relievers claiming to help with menstrual cramping. I even tried laying a certain way in bed. Sometimes these remedies would help ease the pain a bit, but it always persisted. As a result, I used to miss a lot of school, especially in Junior High.
When I was 15, even though I wasn’t sexually active, my doctor suggested that I start taking a Birth Control pill to help with my horrible cramping and PMS symptoms. I stayed on the pill for 10 years, but the unbearable cramps didn’t really get better. I even tried taking the pills continuously, only allowing 3-4 periods a year (under the professional advice of my doctor). Unfortunately, the cramps felt worse during those months when I stopped taking the pills and let nature run its course.
I cursed my sister much of my young adult life because I envied her for not having such bad cramps. Could it be due to genetics? Perhaps she was simply lucky that she didn’t inherit the horrible cramp genes that I did. But I couldn’t help but noticing that we ate differently, and that she was a lot more physically active than I was. I wondered if that could be a contributing factor.
So at 25 years old I finally set out on a mission to find a way to naturally relieve my menstrual cramps without the help of Birth Control pills or any of the other remedies I tried throughout the years. Thanks to my sister. She was my inspiration.
I started making small lifestyle changes to be more like her. She played several sports, including basketball and swimming. I was never quite into basketball, but I was a pretty strong swimmer, so I started going to the pool a few times a week. When my period came, I didn’t see or feel any different results right away. My cramps still felt pretty much the same.
I added dietary changes. I noticed that my sister stayed away from processed food, as well as fast food. I couldn’t give that stuff up completely because that was basically my entire diet. I did start making small changes though. Instead of the French fries, I’d order a side salad. Instead of drinking soda, I’d drink flavored water. I tried to limit my intake of fried foods as well.
Then, it was that time of month again. I actually did notice a significant change in my experience that month. Not only was I not as bloated as usual, but also my cramps seemed much less severe. They were actually tolerable! I could walk around without a scowl on my face or without hunching over. I stayed on the right track for a while and had pretty easy flows.
Then I developed a few health issues and fell off the wagon, so to speak. I decreased the amount of exercise I was getting and started falling back into my old eating patterns. Not only was I disappointed that I was losing my new figure (all thanks to trying to alleviate my monthly cramps!), but my cramping was now worse than ever.
Today I’m still not quite where I was, as far as following my sister’s eating and exercise habits, but I’m trying. I notice on those months that I’m good to my body with proper nutrition and exercise, I experience less pain and other symptoms such as bloating. I am convinced that proper diet and exercise really is the answer. Will I ever be perfect at either of these things? Probably not. Will I stop trying? Absolutely not. I know that every good decision I make about my health will lead to another good one, and vice versa. I know that I am walking in the direction of happy and harmonious flows, just like my “lucky” sister.