Perimenopause is a term used to refer to the period of physical and emotional changes that take place in a woman's body in the years just prior to menopause. Perimenopause usually begins around the age of forty with menstrual irregularities, such as heavy, painful periods. These can range from mildly uncomfortable to lifestyle inhibiting. Painful periods may continue for around ten years as hormone levels continue to alter in preparation for the end of menstruation altogether, but this is not to say that you cannot take steps to minimize menstrual discomfort during perimenopause.
The root of black cohosh has historically been used to regulate menstrual problems. Try incorporating black cohosh tea or supplements into your routine, as the herb has an estrogenic function in the body, which could help restore the hormone imbalances that typically cause heavy periods during perimenopause
It is widely known that exercise helps to prevent and relieve menstrual cramps, but the idea of physical exertion is unlikely to appeal when you're in pain. Exercise doesn't have to mean working out for an hour at the gym; 15 minutes of walking outside is likely to help combat cramps while also providing a distraction from the pain. Alternatively, you could consider trying yoga poses, which use stretches and controlled breathing to achieve physical and emotional relaxation, and you can exert yourself to a degree that's comfortable and suitable to you.
When suffering with cramps, use your fingertips or knuckles to lightly massage your lower abdomen. This will relax the muscles and provide pain relief.
A warm bath provides easy pain relief, but you can maximize this effect by adding appropriate aromatherapy oils to your bath water. You could try lavender oil, which is an anti-inflammatory used to reduce swelling and pain and also has stress-relieving properties. Other fragrant anti-inflammatory herbs include ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
PMR is a form of therapy that focuses on reducing muscle pain while promoting a relaxed state of mind. The process involves lying down and tensing individual muscles or muscle groups for five seconds, before relaxing for 20 seconds, and repeating. PMR is an effective preventer of menstrual cramps because, when practiced regularly, it promotes muscular relaxation on a long-term basis.
When suffering with painful periods, it can be tempting to just lie down and wait it out until your cramps pass, but this does not have a combative effect, and without any distraction, you are more likely to dwell on the discomfort. Painful periods do not have to obstruct your professional or social life. Tackling menstrual discomfort head-on not only helps reduce its intensity; working these habits into your regular routine will help keep painful periods away on a long-term basis.
- National Health Service UK. (2013). A guide to Yoga. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/yoga.aspx
- National Health Service UK. (2012). How To Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Periods-painful/Pages/Treatment.aspx
- University of Missouri - Kansas City. (n.d). Relaxation. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://cas.umkc.edu/casww/relaxatn.htm
- North Dakota State University. (2011). Walking Can Help Relieve Stress. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/news/newsreleases/2011/aug-8-2011/walking-can-help-relieve-stress