Waking up to a throbbing pain in your lower abdomen and finding out you’ve got your period is one of the worst feelings ever. Know that you aren’t alone. Approximately 80% of women experience menstrual cramps at some point.
Now, what exactly leads to menstrual cramps? During the menstrual cycle, the cervix dilates naturally. It allows blood and menstrual tissue to clear out from the body, which is why periods are painful.
The discomfort you experience during periods is due to the fact that the cervix dilates for a few days for about less than a centimeter.
However, the world stops for no one, not even the bleeding woman. In order to go about your day, getting relief from menstrual cramps is important. Assuming you’ve tried every remedy, but despite that, your period cramps decided to stay. If that’s the case, we’ve got a solution: try over-the-counter medicines.
Don’t know which one works and which doesn’t? Continue reading to learn about the four OTC medications that may provide relief against menstrual cramps.
Is your hot-water bag doing nothing to relieve menstrual cramps? Try acetaminophen or Tylenol. While this non-opioid antipyretic and analgesic agent is marketed to treat fever and pain, it works well in reducing menstrual cramps.
Tylenol alleviates pain by targeting the brain area that processes pain and body temperature. Now, it’s important to note that the drug can help reduce menstrual cramps, but it’s safe and effective only when used at the correct dosage.
Acetaminophen or Tylenol is broken down by the liver, which is why it poses health risks. In the worst-case scenario, it can damage your liver severely. That means you shouldn’t combine it with any alcoholic beverage, as it will stress out the liver and lead to permanent damage.
Also, in-utero exposure to Tylenol is believed to increase your child’s risk of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and other developmental disorders. With this new theory emerged the Tylenol lawsuit, where plaintiffs claim that Tylenol use during pregnancy causes autism.
TorHoerman Law reveals that Tylenol distributors like Walmart and other pharmacies could also face lawsuits for failing to warn people of the potential risks. While getting your period during pregnancy is impossible, many women mistake uterine bleeding for periods. You never know, you may be experiencing bleeding or spotting due to pregnancy, not periods.
Thus, if you’re trying to conceive, it’s best to avoid taking Tylenol.
2. Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that can put you out of your misery effectively is ibuprofen. This drug targets menstrual cramps by blocking the production of prostaglandins.
Taking about 200 to 400 mg a day, i.e., one to two pills, will alleviate pain. Just be sure to take it after having your meal so that you don’t experience any immediate side effects. As a bonus, they are tiny, which means they are easy to swallow.
Anyone who intends to take over-the-counter ibuprofen mustn’t take more than 1,200 mg a day. That’s because its side effects could be dangerous. However, avoid ibuprofen if you have sensitive stomach or kidney-related issues because it can worsen your condition.
Another drug that relieves menstrual cramps but is difficult to find is celecoxib. However, you’ll surely find it in the medicine box of elderly members of your home, as it’s used to treat arthritis.
Just like other medicines, the dosage is important when it comes to celecoxib. Overusing the drug can lead to stomach ulcers, so bear that in mind. Nevertheless, the good thing about this NSAID is that it is less likely to block enzymes, unlike other NSAIDs.
As it goes easier on the insides, you can pop one at the onset of your period because that’s when your body needs a bit of TLC. Women with clotting disorders must refrain from consuming this drug without consulting their physician or gynecologist.
4. Naproxen (Aleve)
If you’re looking for a highly effective pain killer, naproxen will fit the bill. We recommend you go for naproxen if your menstrual cramps last all day.
Popping one tablet will keep you going for eight to 12 hours because naproxen provides sweet relief that lasts longer than other over-the-counter medicines. Bear in mind that naproxen doesn’t work for everyone. If you experience any weird symptoms like dizziness or nausea, ask your ob-gyn to prescribe an alternative.
The Bottom Line
Even the simplest task of getting out of bed seems like an uphill battle when you get your period, let alone doing your chores. While there is no magic potion to help you get rid of menstrual cramps, the above-mentioned over-the-counter medications can help.
However, you should take them in moderation. Excess use can lead to serious health conditions. Always ask your ob-gyn which medicine you should take and in what dosage.
Despite taking the medicines, if your cramps don’t subside, do not hesitate to see your medical provider. You never know what medical issues you must be suffering from.