For many women, their period is a time of the month that can be very painful and a struggle to get through. But thankfully, there are plenty of ways to ease the pain and stay comfortable.
One of the most effective methods is to use a heating pad. These devices use heat to relax muscles and increase blood flow to reduce pain.
1. Increase Blood Flow
Menstrual cramps can be debilitating for some women, while others experience the discomfort as a mild side effect of their cycle. Regardless of your experience, there are a number of methods you can use to soothe your cramps and reduce the symptoms that accompany them. One method that is often overlooked is heat therapy, which can help relieve pain by increasing blood flow to the affected areas.
A 2018 research review found that women who used a heating pad for their cramps reported significantly reduced pain after about an hour. The study was conducted on women in the early stages of their menstrual cycles, but the results could be applicable to all women who experience menstrual cramps.
While heat is a proven pain-relieving technique, it’s important to be cautious when using heating pads. They can cause burns to the skin, and they’re also a fire hazard if left unattended. For this reason, it’s best to only use a heating pad for short periods of time and only when the pain isn’t too bad.
When you’re looking for a heating pad for cramps, look for one that is designed to be portable and has a timer or auto shut-off feature. This is important because a lot of heating pads come with an electrical cord, which can be difficult to manage if you’re in a location without access to electricity.
For instance, the Yeamon Heated Patch is a great option because it uses graphene heating to quickly generate high heat. It also has three heat and vibration settings that you can customize to match your comfort level.
In addition, some of these patches have a calming scent that can be soothing to your nerves and body. These patches can be placed on your lower abdomen, back or thighs for extra relief during your period.
If you’re experiencing severe pain, you can also try placing a heating pad over your belly button. This is the area where most women tend to experience their worst cramps, so it’s a good choice to target that area.
There are a few different types of heating pads available, but some of the most common include hot water bottles wrapped in soft covers and heating mats that have an adhesive backing. Both are easy to use and can be purchased at a pharmacy or grocery store. However, some of these pads can be uncomfortable if they’re too hot for your skin, so it’s important to consider the size and shape of the pad before you buy.
2. Relaxes Muscles
A heating pad for cramps is a simple yet effective way to relieve menstrual pain. Heat can relax your muscles, increase blood flow and promote oxygen delivery to tense muscle tissue.
Muscles are like a sponge: They can absorb and hold a lot of water, which means they’re also prone to absorbing toxins from our bodies. This is why it’s so important to take care of your muscles and keep them healthy.
According to a study in Scientific Reports, heat therapy can help relieve tense, painful muscles by increasing circulation and relaxing your muscle fibers. “Heat promotes vasodilation, which is the expansion of blood vessels,” Sekhar Upadhyayula, MD, a New York City-based pain management clinician and CEO at Pain Solutions, tells SELF.
Heated pads are easy to use and available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. You can choose from a microwaveable or electric heating pad or a traditional corded model.
You should always look for a product that’s large enough to cover the area you’re using it on. You don’t want to put it on an area that could cause the heat to rebound off the skin, leading to burns.
The best models will have a large surface area and offer a wide range of temperature settings. Some even have a vibration feature that helps ease cramping by gently massaging the muscle.
Some models will also come with a remote, so you can control your heat and the massage features with your phone or other device. This is especially helpful if you’re traveling or don’t have access to electricity.
Another option is the XpressHeat king size heating pad by Sunbeam, which heats up in just 30 seconds and has four different settings. It’s also portable, so you can easily move around when you need relief.
This model also comes with a remote and vibrating feature that helps relieve cramping by gently massaging the muscle. It’s designed to be used while sitting, standing or lying down. It also has a 9-foot power cord, making it easier to use in any room with an outlet. It’s also lightweight, so you won’t feel weighed down when you’re trying to relax.
3. Reduces Soreness
When you experience uterine muscle contractions during your period, they can cause a range of painful symptoms, including cramping in the lower abdomen, back, and thighs. Heat therapy can help soothe aches and pains related to menstruation by increasing blood flow to the affected areas.
According to a 2001 study from the University of Cincinnati, applying heat can reduce the amount of pain you feel during your period by relaxing the myometrium, the lining of your uterus. The researchers found that a 27% decrease in pain occurred after just one hour of heat treatment.
Heating pads are available to purchase online, and many have adjustable temperature settings that allow you to customize your relief. They are a convenient and inexpensive way to get relief from the symptoms of menstrual cramps.
You can also use a heating pad with essential oils for added pain relief. Massage diluted essential oil onto the area of your lower back and abdomen, then apply the heating pad over it. The heating pad will warm the oils up and release their natural pain-relieving properties into the muscles, helping to ease the pain.
The heat from the heating pad will also help to relax your muscles, easing pain and helping you recover from your menstrual cramps more quickly. It will also help to improve circulation in the impacted area, which can reduce swelling and relieve your symptoms.
Depending on your body’s response to the heat, you may want to continue using the heating pad for several hours or up to an entire day. However, be sure to take a break after 20 minutes to check on your progress and assess your pain level before continuing.
Another option is to sleep with a heating pad on your lower back. Studies show that mimicking the body’s natural decrease in temperature before falling asleep can help your brain reach a state of relaxation and facilitate quality rest.
A heating pad can be used in conjunction with over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers. Taking an NSAID, such as ibuprofen, can help to reduce the amount of prostaglandins in your body, which can help relieve your period pain.
4. Relieves Pain
A heating pad for cramps is an easy and painless way to alleviate the discomfort that can arise during a woman’s period. When applied correctly, a heating pad can reduce inflammation and swelling, which helps ease the pain.
The best heat pads for cramps have a temperature that’s appropriate for your level of pain. They should also be positioned in the area where you’re experiencing cramps so that they’re close enough to stimulate the vasodilation of blood vessels.
When choosing a heating pad, choose one that’s large enough to cover the area you want to target. For example, if you have back pain, select a pad that’s large enough to cover your lower back.
You can also use essential oils to soothe your cramps, according to Iris Orbuch, MD, a New York City-based ob-gyn. These oils are antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, so they can relieve symptoms.
Another option is a moist heat pad, which is more effective at relieving muscle aches than dry heat. You can find these at most stores.
Cordless and rechargeable options can make them easy to bring on the go. Those with auto-shutoff features are helpful for those who might forget to turn the device off.
To avoid overheating, limit the time you’re using a heating pad for cramps. You should also never place the pad directly on your skin to avoid burns.
Lastly, be sure to consult with your doctor before using a heating pad for cramps. It’s not recommended for pregnant women, and it can cause a serious burning reaction.
It’s also important to take into account the amount of time you will be lying on a heating pad for cramps. You’ll need to be comfortable for at least 20 minutes to reap the benefits, which may be a challenge when your cramps are at their worst.
It’s also worth noting that some heating pads are safe for pregnant women to use, but only if they don’t feel the heat as it reaches their skin. Similarly, women with high blood pressure should not use a heating pad for cramps as it could worsen their condition.