The villain (and hero) behind period cramps
Prostaglandins are lipids made at the site of the body where there might be damaged tissue or infection, there are many different ones, and they can have different effects depending on the task. They often cause inflammation, pain, or fever as part of the healing process.
It is said that they have hormone-like effects because they influence reactions in the body when present.
There are many different types of prostaglandins. One example is thromboxane, which stimulates the formation of blood clots to heal the damaged tissues. Another is the prostacyclin, which has the opposite effect; it reduces blood clots and removes them when they are no longer needed.
Ok but what does this have to do with my reproductive organs?
These lipids are essential parts of menstruation and pregnancy. Today we will talk about the effect prostaglandins have on your reproductive organ, and how you can decrease your period cramps.
The prostaglandins PGE2 and PGE2a, are believed to be responsible for uterine contraction in late pregnancy. Without them, the baby wouldn't be naturally moved down the birth canal for labor.
Just like doctors may inject prostaglandins to stimulate uterine contractions during birth, they also prescribe prostaglandin medications for the termination of a pregnancy. For this purpose, they prescribe misoprostol, a synthetic prostaglandin, for first-trimester abortions or for a miscarriage to reduce complications.
Prostaglandins are believed to be the cause of period cramps, the same way it helps with uterine contractions for delivering a baby, during your period it's capable of muscle contraction to discharge your period.
The endometrial cells are in charge of releasing inflammatory prostaglandins so the uterus can contract, but if you make too many of them, these can also enter the bloodstream and cause headaches or even nausea.
Have you ever wondered why your poop is different during your period? 💩. Well, it's because of prostaglandins! If your body makes too much prostaglandin, it can make your bowels contract, making you poop more and even have diarrhea.
Make it stop!
if you suffer from dysmenorrhea, better know as painful periods, one of the many factors involved could be prostaglandins. hopefully, there are many ways to improve your habits and routine so these pains decrease.
Veggies are your friends:
It is scientifically proven that a plant-based diet helps decrease inflammation in the body. Food like fruits, vegetables, whole grains. legumes, nuts, and seeds have antioxidants that will help maintain a normal level of estrogen and fewer prostaglandins.
Check out our Post: What does a healthy diet mean for your cycle?
Good sleep helps keep balance hormones, make sure you get 8 hours of sleep, especially during your period.
Check out our post: Period Pains & Home Remedies
A fast, short-term solution:
Anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen is great for reducing cramps, however, you should talk to your doctor first to make sure this is a viable solution for you. Remember this is a short-term solution and you shouldn't think of consuming ibuprofen every time you have period cramps, since Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen have been linked with secondary effects such as kidney disease, blood pressure issues, and stomach ulcers.
Remember that prostaglandins are your friends, they exist for a reason. However too many or too few of them can be as equally bad. If you're looking for more ways to improve your menstrual cycle or suffer from extremely painful period cramps, make sure to contact your doctor as soon as possible.