Every month, the ovary releases an egg cell which travels through the Fallopian tube into the uterus. The uterus develops a uterine lining (endometrium) to prepare for possible pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilized, the endometrium is shed through the vagina as a mixture of blood and tissue. This happens over a course of 3 to7 days. This is called menstruation or a period. The cycle begins again with an egg maturing in one of the ovaries. This is the menstrual cycle which is normally 25 to 30 days long.
Menstruation is a natural process where every woman’s experiences before and during menstruation differ. Pre-menstrual stress, dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation), menorrhagia (excessive menstruation) and amenorrhoea (stoppage of menstruation) are the main problems related to menstrual flow.
Bloat, backache, leg aches, headaches, zits, abdominal cramps, mood swings, pain, excessive flow, sudden stoppage, development of clots are some of the common problems experienced. Certain factors like family history, being overweight or underweight, intake of certain drugs, chemotherapy or radiation make menstrual problems more likely to occur.
Certain serious menstrual problems could lead to infection, infertility and one should consult a medical practitioner; for milder problems, relief can be got by following some simple home remedies.
Papaya – Raw papaya contains an enzyme papain which helps reduce menstrual pain and regulate the flow. It can be consumed as such or by blending it with a glass of water, have it twice a day.
Sesame seeds – Sesame seeds are excellent in obtaining relief from spasmodic pain and in case of scanty menstruation. Add half a teaspoon of seeds to hot water and drink twice a day. Alternatively, crush 4 teaspoons of seeds into powder, add it to a glass of water and mix well. Drink twice a day.
Ginger – For painful menstruation or stoppage of flow, ginger is very effective. Add a pinch of ginger powder (or pound a piece of fresh ginger) to a cup of hot boiling tea. Steep it for 5 minutes and drink this tea thrice a day after meals. Sugar is optional.
Chamomile tea – To relieve menstrual cramps and pain, sip chamomile tea every morning during your menstrual cycle.
Parsley – Apiol, a constituent of estrogens (the female sex hormone) is present in parsley. This makes parsley extremely effective in increasing menstruation, regularizing the flow and relieving menstrual cramps. Consume as parsley juice in conjunction with beet, carrot and cucumber juices.
Tomato juice – To improve the flow and reduce cramps, it is advisable to drink 1-2 glasses of tomato juice every day.
Banana flower – In case of menorrhagia, banana flower is a very effective treatment. Cook one banana flower and eat it along with a cup of curd.
Coriander seeds – These seeds are effective in treating excessive menstruation. Boil 6g of coriander seeds in half liter of water. Reduce to half. Drink it warm.
Hemp (bhaang) – Hemp can be used when menses do not start in time. Boil five large heads of hemp in half a litre of water. Reduce to half. Strain and drink at bedtime for 2-3 nights.
Radish seeds – Grind radish seeds and consume with buttermilk on a regular basis.
Nutmeg (jaiphal) – Take equal amounts of nutmeg and barringtonia (samundar phal). Powder and store in a bottle. Take 2g- 3g of the powder with warm water 2-3 days before your period start date.
Exercise and Diet - Yoga and breathing exercises help tackle pre menstrual syndrome (PMS) stress and anxiety. Include these in your daily health regimen. A low-intensity exercise routine helps ease cramps and body aches. Recline, relax and unwind with a book/magazine to get relief from cramps. Calcium, magnesium and zinc rich foods help reduce menstrual cramps. A low-fat vegetarian diet during menstrual cycles reduces bloating and PMS symptoms.
It is advisable to avoid caffeine and drink ample amount of water to keep oneself hydrated. To strengthen the uterus, mix half teaspoon of fenugreek (methi) seeds to a cup of hot water. Let it steep for half hour. Drink and eat the seeds. Do this on an empty stomach in the morning.