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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » Alternative Menstrual Remedies (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Alternative Menstrual Remedies
Heather
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Since the issue of cramping and pain during menstruation, as well as PMS and irregularity gets brought up a lot in other threads, especially those discussing the pill, it seems important we have a thread dedicated solely to what methods and approaches have worked for people which do NOT involve birth control pills or other hormonal methods or mega-doses of Ibuprofen and the lot.

Note: If you have extreme menstrual problems and your doctor has NOT thoroughly examined the matter with a pelvic exam, full STI screening, some basic blood tests and an ultrasound, make sure you have that done. Do NOT accept just being thrown unto the pill or being given painkillers: while either or both may work for some women, often those are temporary and still don't identify the problem, and much of the time, severe menstrual pain means something IS wrong. A doctor who tells you that's normal may not be adequately doing his/her job, or all that well-versed or invested in women's reproductive health. So, before trying anything listed here by staff or users, do be sure and do that first.

Here are a few places to start per menstrual pain and discomfort.

• Acupuncture and chinese medicine. Acupuncture is what is done for pain relief, and adjunct therapies like cupping may also be used. Your acupuncturist may also give you an herbal medication to correct any chi/ki imbalances that might be contributing to the problem. Personally, I've had an acupuncture session not only prevent cramping (I have painful cramping every other month, which has been attributed to both stress and possible scarring of a fallopian tube from an ectopic pregnancy), but also nip it right in the bud, providing me relief for days from a single session.

• Massage. You can either get a massage from a massage therapist, teach a friend or partner how, or use a back massager.

• Heat therapy. Hot tubs, hot baths, even the old hot water bottle or heating pad can be your big pal. Those stick-on or insertable self-heating pads are also really awesome.

• Exercise. Increased levels of activity increase circulation as well as providing endorphins, nature's pain reliever. Plus, stronger muscles in the back, pelvis and abdomen can provide greater resistance to pain. Even just some deep stretching and a brisk walk to school or work can make a difference.

• Dietary changes. Some foods can increase menstrual discomfort in many people: caffeine, alcohol, dairy products, meats, simple carbs and highly processed foods,

• Herbal medicines. Some herbs and compounds -- namely emmenagogues, which stimulate blood flow in the pelvis and reproductive organs -- like red raspberry leaf, blue cohosh, angelica, black cohosh, mugwort, tansy, Vitamin C and others -- can be of help. You can often find combination capsules or teas of blends of some of these specifically labeled for mesntrual discomfort at any natural foods store. You can also ask a nutritionist or naturopath/homeopath about them.

• Lifestyle changes in advance of your period. Preventing pain can often be more effective than managing it once it's present. So doing simple things like, in the week before your period, getting extra rest, cutting out caffiene and/or alchohol, eating lighter, healthier meals, getting extra exercise, reducing stresses, and using an alternative therapy BEFORE menses is nearly always beneficial.

• Ditch tampons. Because they absorb flow, rather than containing it, tampons can contribute to greater cramping: consider switching to either pads or a menstrual cup.

• Time. Sounds silly, but sometimes, it just takes some years for the menstrual cycle to settle in and calm down. This is likely a big reason why very young women who go on the pill, then come off in their twenties, attribute the pill to having regulated/calmed their cycle, even though it doesn't have the capacity to do that in any permanent way.

Feel free to post other alternatatives that have worked for you!

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Aela 57
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I get really bad pains with my periods and the only ways to relieve it for me without drugs is lots of fresh air, lots of fruit and water, and walking. If I'm doing too much exercise or staying still the pains seem to be worse, so a good walk tends help. Also avoiding any big amounts of carbohydrates around when it's due to start like bread or potato helps.

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Aela. 19, 5'9. Often confused.

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-Lauren-
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Thank you so much for this resource, Miz S. I really appreciate it.

I'm already trying heat (I found somewhere that a large tube sock filled with rice and tied off, then microwaved, is a good remedy), and it has cut down on my ibuprofen use already.

I'm going to definately switch gynecologists, and see if I can convince this one to perform more intensive tests. I'll be calling the insurance company after the holiday weekend to see what alternative therapies they offer; as far as I know, I think only chiropractor visits are covered.

Thank you again, this is great information that I'm sure more people than me need. [Smile]

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DarkChild717
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I find that on occasion, masturbation relieves the tension and gets rid of my cramps. My only catch 22 is that I often experience a low swing in my sex drive during my period, so I've got to be in the mood to do so.

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Beppie
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I used to get pain that was so bad that I simply couldn't get up to exercise a lot of the time, BUT I found that when I was physically fit (walking for an hour every day), I barely got any pain at all, and later on, I found that simply going for a walk most days for the week before my period made a significant difference.

Sleep is also great. When I got bad cramps, if I stayed up all day, the cramps would last all day, but if I managed to sleep for a couple of hours, they'd get significantly better.

These were important for me to know, because of all the painkillers asprin was the only one that worked for me, and even then a lot of the time I felt so sick that swallowing anything but plain, pure water would make me throw up.

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oOo Lea oOo
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I love herbal teas, so I use them as many remedies, including menstrual cramps.

Herbal teas containing Chamomile, Sassafras, and Ginger work real well. I even have an herbal tea labeled Menstrual Relief, although I can't think of the name of it (I generally refer to it as the PMS tea)

Also, I find that eating bananas helps, too. The protein and potassium in bananas helps with any sort of cramping, be it menstrual, or simply leg or muscle cramps.

I heard some where that chocolate helps with mentrual cramps and migranes. I'm not sure how, or if that is even true, but it's routine for me to grab a chocolate bar when i'm menstrating (dark chocolate usually, since I am lactose-intolerant)


As Miz Scarlet Said, blue and black cohosh work well, too.

[ 05-30-2006, 01:32 PM: Message edited by: oOo Lea oOo ]

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And I say thank you for the scars
And the guilt and the pain
Every tear I've never cried
Has sealed your fate.
Did you take me for a fool
or were you just too blind to see
that every effort made has failed
and there is no destroying me?
Atreyu

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domncroxd
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I've tried this yoga position for 2 years now and it has brought me a lot of relief from cramps.

1) Sit down with your legs straight out.
2) Take your right leg and cross it over your left. It's kinda like one of the stretching exercises in PE. If you want, you can 'hug' your leg to yourself.
3) Repeat again after a minute or so, with the other leg.

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poppybluefrogs
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wow thanks for this thread! i can't take anti-inflammatory drugs and have to be careful with paracetamol because of the other meds i'm on, so i'm desperate for anything that will help with my menstrual pain.

I get horrible horrible contracting stabbing pains and alot of nausea and sickness for days when i'm on my period (infact i'm on right now. I have been sick since last monday, and considering i only started bleeding yesterday that is pretty bad, and i've had contracting pains for the two days which are only now starting to ease off)

the doctor has put me on the pill already and that has helped some. i'm definitely not as bad as i used to be as i'm actually out of bed and able to move now. So i will definitely be trying some of the herbal teas and possibly some yoga, and also probably seeing another doctor about my pains and get them to do more tests because i'm still in a lot of pain.

Thanks!

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not_a_hobgoblin
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It's weird, it's random, but I have found that Jolly Ranchers, of all things, help me a bit. I occasionally get pain to the point of no-lunch, can't-walk, curled-up-in-a-ball... in the middle of a school day. My French teacher is always giving out candy, and on a bad day, I tried eating one, and poof! I still hurt, but I could uncurl and walk to my next class and make it home, where I can take something stronger than acetominophin (tylenol), which I'm very resistant to.

I wonder if this is a just-me thing?

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"Cut her down."
"She is a witch!"
"But she's our witch. Cut her down."

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joyfulgirl
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in high school i got really bad cramps. so bad that i would have to go home from school about a month. after i graduated they stopped completely! i haven't gotten any cramps since. part of it was probably just me growing and changing, but i feel like it was psychological too. i hated school, and was always looking for an excuse to do something else. and my body gave me a rather painful one.

if you get really bad cramps think about the situation you're in. this is just a thought, but stress and depression probably lead to more discomfort during menstruation. at least they did for me.

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"they say you can bear anythng if you can tell a story about it."

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the mermaid chair

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-Lauren-
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Up you go, cramp-killer! *bump*
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Karybu
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(Can we sticky this? It'd be easier than having to bump it up all the time.)

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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-Lauren-
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(Aha, for some reason that slipped my mind. Done. [Smile] )
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trixieish
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I just wanted to kinda repeat what Miz Scarlet said about tampons...they're so processed and have so many chemicals that it can make cramps among other things worse...i used to have a really hard time with my period...then i switched to a cup and its been a walk in the park since. They're available in most health food stores.

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somethings have to be believed to be seen
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DarkChild717
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I have found that the natural cotton tampons are fantastically comfortable. I don't have the same issues that I used to have with commerical tampons.

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Caylin, Scarleteen Volunteer
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BiLLaBaBy017
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See, when I started my period when I was 12, I have had the most horrible cramps ever! They got so bad to the point where the doctor had to prescribe Ibuprofen 800, and even that didn't work. So I went on Ortho Evra in 2003. I haven't had ANY cramps whatsoever since being on birth control, but now I'm thinking about going off of it because I saw a commercial that they were taking it off the market due to too many heart attacks and blood clots in women. I would like to get off birth control but I'm afraid that my cramps will go back to being terribly horrible again. Do you think they would have subsided by now?
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thathollygirl
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Your cramps might still be bad, but that's no reason to not get off BC.

There are a lot of ways to make cramps subside, and one of them is just by making peace with your period. I stopped taking medicine for cramps about six months ago, and lo and behold, the cramps are much less painful or even absent! Just relaxing, breathing deeply, rubbing your belly, or whatever makes you feel good when the cramps set in can do a lot to make them go away. After the first day, mine are usually gone.

In fact, this month, I had none at all.

Also, using alternative menstrual products can help. A cup or sponge tampons, or cloth pads, or free bleeding or whatever works for you can help out a lot, because commercial tampons dry you out something awful.

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Menthol
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My name is MC Menses and my flow be fresh.

I used to have horrible cramps over the entire course of my period when I was younger. Thankfully, it's subsided now to mild discomfort on the first day.

I've read that extreme discomfort every other month can mean ovarian cysts... any truth in that?

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"I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction."
~Ayn Rand

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LollySocks
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"free bleeding?"

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break down, rebuild, repeat.

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-Lauren-
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Yup. Many cultures in the world today don't have the typical sanitary products available for purchase, or simply choose not to use them.

As the name implies, these women simply let their menstrual fluid flow, and deal with it by bathing more frequently, scraping dried blood off absorbant mats, etc. [Smile]

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wilddove
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In some cultures 'free bleeding' may work but unless u can just sit in a room or place for four or five days its not something many people in other part of world like where i am and america and europe etc.

It just doesnt fit in with many of our liestyles, going to a workplace, certain society expectations, going to the shop even etc.

Interesting to know this occurs in some cultures though.

I think attitudes and coping with periods changes with age, it was years before i could or wanted to use tamons, then i only did the odd time, now i find them best and hate pads,just use a liner and tampns, so much more comfy and i feel cleaner and less 'pain' i used to get like 'pressure pain' down there but since i switched to tampons its greatly reduced or none.

Usually lasts up to a week with last few days being really light so only wear a liner those nights to gve body a 'break'from tampons

I however get a million symptoms sometimes worse than others

1.nausea, and difficulty in eating and drinking anything but water and not starchy stuff and dairy is so out and most chocolate etc, usually stick to fresh stuff and pastas with tomato sauces, pizza is ok to, but i can feel really ill in genral.

2.stomach pains and back pain.

3. upset stomach

4. headachy

5. sore throat

6. really dry and sensitive skin(more than usual) which can even feel sore

7. very stuffed up and congested

8. absolutely exhausted

usually get most of these, never less than 6 or 7 of these

not much i can do but drink lots of water and exercise and rest and hope it falls with worst days at weekend

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LollySocks
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what about someone that rarely has cramps, but once a tampon is in, they worsen (not THAT bad, but before the tampon's in, there's no pain)?

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break down, rebuild, repeat.

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LucysDiamonds
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Is it possible for you to not use tampons? It's not uncommon for having tampons in to worsen cramps. There are a number of options available - pads, menstrual cups, sponges, reusable pads, etc. that might be better options for you.

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So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky
As someone told me lately
Everyone deserves the chance to fly

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Heather
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Because tampons absorb flow, rather than contain it like a cup or a pad, it's actually typical for tampons to worsen cramps.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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LollySocks
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Well, no, I can't really go without tampons. You see, I get a really heavy flow around the middle of my period, and unless I could find a cup or something, I'm basically stuck with tampons!

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break down, rebuild, repeat.

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-Lauren-
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Wow. I went from gut-wrenching near vomit-enducing cramps to next to NO cramps AT ALL. I used next to no ibuprofen last cycle, and I'm sort of wondering why.

It was my second cycle on using a menstrual cup, but considering my first cycle was still painful, I doubt it had much to do with that. I was taking a women's dietary supplement from rite aid that had all sorts of traces of good women's herbs like dong quai and black cohosh, so that might have to do with it.

The ONE thing I can think of that might have done it most was increasing fiber. I ate a bowl of mini wheats for breakfast for like a week prior, and then was surprised by my period. Surprised. Not welcomed by intense cramps and spotting. Surprised. Dude.

http://www.scarleteen.com/pink/sexhealth.html

So yeah, to those of you still suffering, look at and follow the guidelines in that article. I've even noticed my problems with painful intercourse start to disappear as soon as I (shocker) began drinking a lot of water and taking cranberry supplements.

It's opened my eyes a lot regarding just how important diet is; what you put in your body has a LOT to do with how it functions. It's amazing I wasted all that money on doctor visits when doing such no-brainer stuff made such a difference.

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Heather
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Yay!

This has been such a HUGE problem for you since you've been at ST I think, no?

And yep: I'm guessing that the combo of the cup, the herbs and the fiber are likely to thank. Nice when it's so easy, isn't it?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Menthol
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I don't cramp as badly as I used to... but i often get bloated and have an uncomforable congested sensation.

It may sound gross, but i find that doing squats in the tub helps. It kinda helps... squeeze it all out.

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"I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction."
~Ayn Rand

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Irm
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I don't know if "not_a_hobgoblin" is still around, but she said jolly ranchers made a dramatic difference to her cramps... While it may just be a placebo effect, blood sugar has been said to have an effect on menstrual pain. If anyone experiences such a dramatic, full-body change with the intake of sugar, it might be a good idea to have a blood test done, just to make sure that they're not pre-diabetic.

That said, LAUGHTER works really well for me. I know it's a bit insane to laugh if you're in pain, but if you can somehow manage true, honest laughter, then that is the biggest full-body therapy I know of.

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answsginwwsa
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The first day of my period will either be this evening or tomorrow morning. I missed most of my classes today and slept through the hours to go pick up my car at the shop. I'm feeling the sore boobs, the intense nausea, the pain, the migraine, haven't eaten anything all day but 2 excedrin migraine(I'm addicted to caffeine but couldn't drink coffee this morning), I could barely pay attention in economics, or walk home. My period is so heavy I nearly cried to joy when I discovered ultra-strength absorption tampons from O.B. All of my friends say to go on the pill, but I've resisted: I'm celibate and I would be horrible at remembering to take it everyday anyway.

This thread has inspired me to stop putting up with it. My period comes every fourth Friday/Saturday (I love weekends!) and I've never really done anything to change menstruation's affect on my body. Tonight, after I get home from supporting my friend at the debut of her new band, I resolve to take the first step and have a hot bath and some tea.

Next month, I will walk downtown and back every night during the week preceding this mess. I will start taking an iron supplement every other day. I will take a hot shower rather than wallow in the greasy hair. I will use up all the tampons I already have and buy a reusable cup. I will have food in my house that won't upset my stomach. I will attend the required info session in order to schedule a pelvic in my on-campus health center so I can talk about it with a doctor. I will print this out and post it next to my monitor until I take care of this. I've always just accepted this suffering as part of being a girl and it's wrong. I don't have to live like this!

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Hopeful Romantic
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I had the worst cramps when my period first started, around 11-12. (I was a pretty early bloomer) Then, it was pretty debilitating. Sleep is one of the best things for cramps, as well as grain- and herb-filled homemade hotpads. Lavender _really_ works, along with some barley. All you have to do is plop it in the microwave for two or three minutes, and voila! These pads also work pretty well as a cool pad when put in the freezer for about a half hour.

Also, I find that yoga like what was described earlier helps out with the lower back pain and nausea.

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Conscience-calmed
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I didn't start getting cramps until after I started on my anti=depressants, and now they just sort of change intensity from month-to-month. My cure has been sitting my laptop on my abdomen while I watch Love, Actually. Another thing that makes me feel good is pressure. I'll wear pants or press on my abdomen to help with pain or just a weird feeling. I also don't use tampons, I'm a HUGE fan of the diva cup, although it's not very virgin-friendly - I couldn't use it without significant pain and tears in the bathroom until after I'd had sex. I'm sure part of it is getting the knack of getting it in before it pops open - Yow!

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We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

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Leabug
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Conscience, I'm with you on the pressure thing for cramps- my partner and I have developed a thing we jokingly call "The Uterus Squeeze", where he puts a hand on my crampy abdomen and a hand on my lower back, and gently applies pressure. I do really find that when he lets go, it provides (temporary) relief!

(And just to clarify, too, that physically speaking, virgins should not experience any more trouble than anyone else with the diva cup, since sexual activity does not make the vagina looser.)

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Lea

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doin' it
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Alright, so I'm about to start my third month on Ortho Tri-Cyclen. I have NEVER since I was 11 years old (I'm almost 18 now) and started my period had cramps or major discomfort during my period. The last two months I have had excrutiating pain all week, all day while on my period. Is it possible that this is the birth control. Because I was always told that birth control could be used to HELP cramps...not cause them.
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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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It kind of depends on the birth control, type of birth control, and the woman in question. The pill changes the amounts of estrogen and progesterone in your body, so if you had an awesome balance before, they can alter it so it isn't so awesome now. Or, the particular hormones and amounts on this particular pill just may not be a good one for you.

So, call into the GYN who prescribed your pill for you and talk about this: you may want to try a different pill.

(And just an FYI: if you did NOT get a pelvic exam before starting your pill, you'll want to do that. It's really best to always do that, anyway, but some doctors don't. Since you're having these issues, you will absolutely want to have one in case there was something undetected before that the pill is now exascerbating.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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