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8 Ways to Ease Menstrual Cramps Naturally

Looking for pill-free ways to help period pain? Here are eight tried-and-true home remedies for menstrual cramps.

Woman lying in bed with cramps, uses a heating pad
Getty Images/martin-din/E+

If you're reading this, it's because you know the pain. You're going about your day, then the curveball comes. You want to curl up into a little ball. That gnawing, aching feeling in your lower abdomen means one thing: your period is on its way.

In this quick guide, we give you eight tried-and-true home remedies for menstrual cramps. If you want to know how to get rid of period cramps naturally, you've come to the right place. 

Natural remedies for menstrual cramps

There are plenty of ways to stop period cramps, but a lot of them lean on medication. That could be a hormonal birth control or an over-the-counter pain reliever. If you're trying to soothe your pain without taking a pill, though, you need alternatives.

We've got them. When you get menstrual cramps, home remedies like these can go a long way. 

Hot herbal tea 

A steamy, soothing cuppa could be just what the not-doctor ordered for your cramping. This gives you more than a self-care moment, too. Specific types of herbal tea can deliver cramp-busting ingredients to help you through. 

Studies show that you can get menstrual cramp relief from herbal teas that include:

When you're sourcing tea, check the ingredients to make sure you're getting the good stuff. "Mint flavor," for example, probably isn't going to do you any favors. 

Heating pad 

If you're looking for ways to stop period cramps fast, grab your heating pad. Get horizontal and lay it across your achy lower abdomen. You might want to add a blanket or pillow on top of the heating pad too. A little weight can help the heat settle into your body and give you a quicker path to relief. 

The heating pad doesn't just give you a welcome distraction. The heat from it actually helps some of the muscles in your stomach relax, soothing the cramping. Fifteen minutes with the heating pad should leave you in a better state. 

If you're out and about when the pain strikes, you don't necessarily need to head home to get heat relief. Some companies make disposable stick-on heating pad wraps that you can throw on under your clothes if things get rough. 

Simple yoga poses

If you have the luxury of moving your body to help with the pain, specific yoga poses should make your list of menstrual cramp home remedies. In fact, studies show that "yoga movements significantly reduced pain intensity" for women dealing with menstrual cramping. 

A few poses to try include:

  • Legs up the wall. This one's just what it sounds like. Lie down with your butt all the way up against a wall so you can rest your legs straight up along it. You should form a right angle with the top half of your body on the floor and your legs going up the wall. If your lower back arches up, scoot back from the wall until you're able to keep it flat on the floor. This pose can help you relax your legs and bring tension out of your pelvis. 
  • Reclined cobbler's pose. Sit on a yoga mat, blanket or even on your bed. Bring the soles of your feet together so your knees splay out to the side and your legs form a diamond shape. Your feet don't need to be close to your pelvis here -- give your body space. Use your arms to support yourself as you lay back, keeping your feet together and your legs in the diamond shape. You can put pillows under your knees so you feel supported here. This should help you feel open through your pelvis, reversing some of the tension that comes with cramping. 
  • Cat-cow. On all fours (with something soft under your hands and knees), inhale as you drop your belly down toward the ground, bring your tailbone up toward the sky and shine your chest forward. You're mimicking a cow here with its sunken belly. As you exhale, arch your back up toward the sky, curving your spine to make the reverse shape, mimicking an alarmed cat. Keep moving with your breath, focusing on lengthening your pelvic area in cow and supporting it in cat. 
  • Child's pose. On all fours, bring your toes together to touch and spread your knees out as wide as is comfortable. Gently press yourself back so your hips meet your feet, lowering your torso toward the floor. You might want a pillow to support your forehead or a folded-up blanket under your stomach and chest to bring the ground up to meet you. Focus on letting your lower abdomen relax toward the floor as you breathe. 

These ways to stop period cramps can be particularly helpful at night if your PMS gets in the way of your sleep

Hot shower or bath

Just like the aforementioned heating pad, hot water can help the muscles in your abdomen relax, easing cramping. As a result, you can add a hot shower to your menstrual cramps: home remedies list. 

Even better, though, draw yourself a bath. Add in some Epsom salts to further help with muscular relaxation. 

Try a CBD supplement

You may have heard that medical cannabis can help with pain relief -- and that's true when it comes to menstrual cramps. In fact, when you're figuring out how to get rid of period cramps naturally, this plant-based medicine can go a long way

Specifically, you can try cannabidiol (CBD), which is federally legal. You can rub a topical CBD product onto your abdomen to soothe cramps or take an oral version just like you would an over-the-counter pain reliever, but without the synthetic ingredients. Since period cramping is partially an inflammatory response and CBD is anti-inflammatory, this may bring you relief. 

Self-massage with essential oils

It's time for a hands-on approach. A study showed that women who massaged essential oils into their abdomens saw a notable reduction in their period symptoms. 

The trick here is choosing the right essential oils. Lavender gives you an excellent place to start because it's easy to find, soothing and directly linked to cramping relief. If you don't like the smell of lavender, you can try cinnamon (it's anti-inflammatory) or a blend that masks the scent. 

Exercise

If you live with persistent cramps during your monthly cycle, make it a point to get moving on a regular basis. While lacing up your sneakers might not feel like the most inviting idea when you're already feeling crampy, exercise can be a powerful tool to fight menstrual pain before it starts. 

Exercise doesn't have to mean joining a gym. You can get your sweat on at home or simply go for a walk. Or if you're the type of person who generally hates working out, check out our guide to alternatives

Food and drink modifications

What you put into your body impacts how it feels on any given day, but that's particularly true before your period. Caffeine, meat, sugar and salt can all make menstrual cramps worse. 

Fortunately, if you're looking for ways to stop period cramps, your diet can actually be an asset. Getting more omega-3 fatty acids can help your body reduce inflammation, soothing your symptoms. 

Bottom line

woman in having stomach cramps lying on the bed, holding a heating pad
Getty Images/asiandelight/Moment

We've given you eight natural home remedies for menstrual cramps, but everyone's different. Try each one and see what works for you. Studies show that these can be effective for most women, so you should find at least a couple of tools you can pull out the next time cramps come calling. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.