Watch your medication

Watch your medication

Some women I come across are frequent users of painkillers such as ibuprofen and aspirin. Yet, excessive use of these drugs, particularly ibuprofen, can have a harmful effect on their fertility (24).

If you need to take a painkiller for menstrual cramps, try to manage with paracetamol.

Painful periods may be made worse by lifestyle factors (32). If this is the case there are steps you can take to help manage the symptoms.

Take gentle, endorphin-releasing exercise (such as swimming, walking, or cycling) during the painful day(s). Endorphins act as the body’s natural painkillers.

Learn relaxation techniques to reduce the levels of tension in your body. Tension exacerbates pain.

Apply heat to your abdomen. Simple steps, such as applying a hot water bottle, microwave-heated cushion, or small heat pad to the abdomen, are very helpful.

TENS machines, which use electrical impulses to block pain signals, can help to alleviate the pain.

Try acupuncture. Research has shown that it can help reduce the levels of pain and the need for medication in women suffering from dysmenorrhoea. Acupuncture pads are now available.

Some women find that good nutrition helps reduce the level of period pain they experience. Make sure you are eating foods that are rich in magnesium, vitamin E and vitamin B1 or try taking supplements that include these (see pages 104-106).

Exercise triggers the release of the body’s natural pain-relieving endorphins.

Relaxation techniques such as yoga help Eating foods, such as green beans, that reduce tension, which can exacerbate pain, have key nutrients may help painful periods.

If you are trying to get pregnant, it helps to understand fully your menstrual cycle so that you know when you are at your most fertile.

Although the average cycle lasts for 28 days, there is considerable variation among women and it is considered perfectly normal to have cycles that are longer or shorter than this. That said, even if your cycle falls within what is considered to be the normal range, you might not be producing the right level of a particular hormone at the right time to trigger ovulation and provide the right conditions for a fertilized egg to implant, and this could be enough to prevent you from getting pregnant.

Note the length of six cycles. Take your shortest cycle and subtract 20; then your longest and subtract 10. If the results were, for example, 6 and 21 then you are potentially fertile between days 6 and 21.

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