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Having really bad period cramps is no fun.

Sometimes all you want to do when you have bad period cramps is stay home curled up in a ball under your favourite blankets binge-watching feel-good romcoms.

Well, we’re here to help you make sense of your bad period cramps – when it’s totally normal, what you can do to help ease them, and when to reach out for help.

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1 What causes period cramps?

First things first. Period cramps are usually normal – even bad period cramps. Period cramps – bad or otherwise – are ultimately caused by hormone-like substances produced by your body called prostaglandins.

They make your uterus contract, helping it push out the tissue and blood of your unneeded uterine lining as reddish fluid – i.e. your period – when you’re menstruating. Period cramps tend to start a day or two before your period actually comes.

Unfortunately, the longer and heavier your period, the more likely you are to have bad menstrual cramps. That’s because your uterus will be contracting for longer and getting rid of a greater volume of liquid from your uterus.

Rest assured. It may not be that way every month. The intensity of your menstrual cramps – and your period symptoms in general – will vary from month to month. Changes in Lifestyle and diet can result in heavier, more painful periods. So if you have bad period cramps, look back on what you ate or did differently that month. It may have had an effect.

Worse-than-usual menstrual cramps are typically a sign of changes in your hormone levels that month. This will typical sort itself out on its own.

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2 How to relieve bad period cramps

Keeping your muscles loose is key to counteracting the contractions that cause period cramps.

  • Staying warm is a good start. Hug a hot water bottle, take a warm shower, or curl up in your favourite cuddly sweats.
  • Light exercise also helps because it increases blood flow to your crampy areas. It doesn’t need to be too intense. Keep it simple with a brisk walk around the block, some light yoga or stretching, or a quick, easy workout at the gym.
  • Staying hydrated can also help ease bad menstrual cramps. This means drinking plenty of water and laying off the caffeine and salty foods.

You may also want to talk to your mum or a trusted adult about taking an over-the- counter pain medication for relief.

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3 What is Dysmenorrhea?

Dysmenorrhea is just the medical term for period cramps. It is used to describe the menstrual cramps and period pain girls and women experience before their period or when they just started it.

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4 When to seek medical help?

If your menstrual cramps are significantly worse than usual and they are not responding to over-the-counter pain medications, you may want to see your doctor. Together you can get to the bottom of what is causing your bad period cramps and come up with a solution.

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5 Being prepared for your period

Always Ultra Pads Normal

The good news is that period cramps can help you know your period is just around the corner. When you feel it coming, check your pads and tampon supply. Stashing some Always Ultra pads in your bag is also a good idea.

Always Ultra uses absorbent gel technology to lock away liquids for up to 100% leakage Protection so that you always feel confident on your period – period cramps or not.