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Hot compress for period pain: Here’s how heat helps

Pain during menstruation is quite common. While there are medicines, you can also go for hot compress for period pain.
View All Images Woman with a hot water bag
You should use hot compress for period pain. Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 30 Jan 2024, 07:30 pm IST
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Before or during periods, many women experience painful sensations in the lower abdomen. Sometimes, even the lower back starts hurting during this time. For some, the pain can be really severe. Whether you are a teenager or in your 30s, dysmenorrhea is a common gynecological concern for many. There are medicines and various home remedies to get some relief from menstrual cramps. But if you are not too keen on popping pills during menstruation, you can always use a heating pad. Hot compress for period pain is known to help menstruating women. Read on to know how hot compress helps and tips to make a homemade heating pad.

What is dysmenorrhea?

We call it menstrual cramps or period pain, but the medical term is dysmenorrhea. Period pain primarily affects the lower abdomen, but the pain can also radiate to the lower back. Some women may also experience discomfort extending to the thighs, says obstetrician, gynecologist and fertility specialist Dr Nirmala M. The pain usually starts just before the period and subsides a few days later. As per a 2013 research published in the Epidemiologic Reviews, the prevalence of dysmenorrhea can vary between 16 percent and 91 percent in women who are in the reproductive stage.

Woman using a hot water bag for period cramps
Hot water bags can provide some relief during periods. Image Courtesy: Adobe Stock.

What are the causes of period pain?

Period pain is associated with menstruation, but here are some reasons why it happens:

  • Period pain is caused by uterine muscle contractions during menstruation.
  • Prostaglandins, which are chemicals in the uterus, trigger these contractions, leading to pain.
  • Inflammatory factors in the pelvic area can contribute to increased pain.
  • Conditions like endometriosis or uterine fibroids can intensify period pain.
  • Elevated prostaglandin levels result in stronger and prolonged uterine contractions.
  • Emotional factors, such as stress, can influence the perception of menstrual pain.

How does hot compress help with period pain?

Heat can reduce period pain by increasing blood flow, according to a 2018 research published in Scientific Reports. Hot compresses improves blood flow to the lower abdomen. When there is increased blood circulation, it aids in reducing tension and promoting relaxation in the pelvic area. The warmth helps relax uterine muscles, easing contractions and reducing pain, says Dr Nirmala.

What is the correct way to use heat to get rid of period pain?

You can use heat therapy as needed during your periods.

  • Put water in a heating pad, but ensure the heat is at a moderate temperature to avoid burns or you can wrap it up with a towel.
  • Apply the heating pad or hot water bottle to your lower abdomen for 15 to 20 minutes.
Woman having period problems
You can opt for DIY heating pads for period pain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

You can also go for a DIY heating pad. Here’s how to make a homemade heating pad:

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  • Take an old sock and fill it with uncooked rice.
  • Leave some space at the top so that you can close the opening.
  • Sew it shut or use a rubber band or a string to close it so that the rice doesn’t come out.
  • Put it in a microwave oven and heat it for about two minutes.
  • Take it out from the microwave and apply it to your lower abdomen or areas where you feel the pain.
  • You can microwave again after the heating pad goes cold.

Is soaking in hot bath more effective than using a heating pad?

Heating pads provide targeted relief to the lower abdomen, addressing localised pain. On the other hand, soaking in a hot bath offers overall relaxation, potentially easing tension and discomfort, shares the expert.

But some women like those with skin conditions need to exercise caution to prevent irritation. Women with impaired sensation or reduced blood circulation should be cautious while using hot compress for period pain to avoid burns.

If you are uncertain about the suitability of heat therapy, consult a doctor.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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