Menstrual cramps are probably the number one reason why many women hate their periods.
Menstrual cramps are caused by the contractions of the uterus as it breaks down the uterine lining and expels the menstrual blood through the cervix. Also, many hormonal changes affect the position, height and texture of your cervix, sometimes causing extreme sensitivity in the inside of the vagina.
Dr. Christine Northrup, M.D. writes in ‘Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom,’ that,
“As many as 60% of all women suffer from menstrual cramps. The fact that the majority of women in our culture suffer from menstrual cramps is a very clear indication that we have something wrong with our relationship to our bodies.”
So, considering that the uterus is the organ responsible for menstrual cramps, let’s take a closer look at our relationship with it.
Ask yourself these questions:
- When was the first time you ever became aware your uterus existed?
- How much do you know about the role of your uterus during an orgasm and in relation to your sexuality?
- Do you know where your uterus is, how big it is, and what shape it has?
You can read some more about the uterus and its role during an orgasm in my blog, where I cite Spanish writer Casilda Rodrigañez, who believes that the pain of childbirth is caused by a “spastic uterus”, a uterus that can’t contract properly.
Some of the main causes of this “spastic uterus” condition were, according to Rodrigañez, the lack of movement (specifically rocking the pelvis through dance), the lack of connection with the uterus, and lack of awareness of its main role during orgasm and female sexuality in general.
I know, you’re probably thinking: “Alright, so practically speaking, what can we do about it!?” I have two suggestions for you:
1. Oregano Vaginal Steaming.
I learned this from a friend in Costa Rica who swore by it. Since then, I have met several women who said it had worked for them, so why not give it a try? Vaginal steaming is used traditionally in some cultures for postpartum care and to heal all sorts of uterine problems, from period cramps to more serious conditions like endometriosis and abnormal growths.
The process is not complicated, but it can seem intimidating the first time. You have to do it the week before your expected period, and you will get the best results by doing it three days in a row.
- Boil a gallon of water, add your herbs (in this case 1 cup of fresh oregano) and let it steep for 10 minutes.
- Place the container on the ground or in a special sitz bath, which fits perfectly in the toilet. Let it cool down until its warm but not burning.
- Sit on the edge of a chair, right above the steaming pot. If you’re using a sitz bath double check to make sure that the brew is not too hot since you will be sitting closer to it!
- Wrap yourself in a blanket and ta-da! Enjoy the pleasant smell and sensation of the steam as it comes up your vagina and relaxes your muscles.
This video shows very clearly the steps to follow.
[youtube id=”6UVvFu4NDwM” align=”center” autoplay=”no”]
I also think it’s a good idea to do a little visualization while you’re sitting there. Visualize your uterus. Visualize its muscles relaxing, the muscles and tissues beating softly, moving like the chest of a sleeping child. Visualize the steam coming up and softening the muscles, releasing all tension.
I think this works for two reasons. One is, of course, plants are powerful. But the second reason, which I think is even bigger, is that you will have to make time to take loving care of yourself for three days in the week before your period. The week before your period, when many women experience the dreaded symptoms of PMS, your body experiences some dramatic hormonal changes, asking you to slow down the pace of your busy life and take some time for introspection and rest. For some women this happens more during their actual period, but either way, making time for yourself every month to recharge and renew can make a huge difference relieving your cramps. This is so important that finally some business are starting to catch up and are creating policies that allow female workers to take a few paid days off a month.
When interviewed about the new policy, the Coexist’s company director Bex Baxter said:
“There is a misconception that taking time off makes a business unproductive – actually it is about synchronizing work with the natural cycles of the body.“
I bet you these companies will see an amazing increase in the productivity of their workers!
If vaginal steaming seems like something that would stress you out or make you uncomfortable, don’t worry about it, it’s not the only way. You can create your own self-care routine by doing the things that you love and are good for your body. The important thing is that you make time for yourself.
My second suggestions for menstrual cramps is… DANCE! Remember we were talking about the spastic uterus? Well, the good news are that you can learn to move your uterus! Belly Dancing is a good starting point, since a lot of it is focused on isolating the hips. This helps increase the circulation in the pelvic area, bringing more oxygen and energy into the uterus. You don’t have to be a great dancer to enjoy the benefits of moving those hips! As with the vaginal steaming, this will work better if you combine it with visualization.
Try drawing an infinity sign with your hips while you visualize the uterus being softly squeezed to break down its lining. Check out this video here!
What do you think? Would you try these methods to relieve your cramps? If you already did, what was your experience?
To learn more about menstrual health, check out Womb Revolution!
Marissa Rivera Bolaños is a doula and visual artist with a passion to create change around the way our culture approaches women’s health. She is the founder and owner of Womb Revolution. She lives with her partner and son in Olympia, Washington. She is a graduate of bebo mia’s Doula Business School. And we think she is swell!
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