- Working out releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers to combat painful period cramps.
- Experts say that working out regularly can also help with menstrual cramps.
- If working out doesn’t alleviate cramp menstrual pain, experts say talk to your doctor.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Menstrual cramps can be a debilitating, days-long experience for people with periods.
Shortly before menstruation, your body releases hormones called prostaglandins, and those hormones signal your uterus muscles to start contracting.
It’s those contractions that help the uterus lining shed through the canal – and cause cramping in your lower abdomen, pelvis, and back.
Around 80% of people with periods are estimated to experience cramps in their lifetime. But while menstrual cramps cause slightly uncomfortable for some, they can also cause unbearable, severe pain in others.
Dr. Pari Ghodsi, a certified OB-GYN, told Insider one reason some people have more severe cramps than others is they may have higher levels of prostaglandins. Endometriosis, which occurs when tissue grows beyond your uterus, can also cause severe period cramps, as well as uterine fibroids.
Ibuprofen is a common solution to ease severe pain, but for those that want to take a more natural route, whether you have mild or severe cramps, sweating it out can help with period pain.
Why working out helps with cramps
Working out can alleviate menstrual cramp pain because exercising releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers.
In a study, published in 2019, 78% of 14,184 women reported that exercise helped with menstrual cramps, and nearly of the woman thought moderate-intensity exercise was the most effective exercise at combating cramps.
Ghodsi said, in addition to working out during your period, working out on a regular basis can help ease cramps. “We believe that just have that regular boost of endorphins which counterbalances how you’re, you’re feeling, you know pain wise.”
Yoga and jogging help with menstrual cramps
Yoga, a workout that’s both a spiritual and physical exercise, can provide some relief, according to Ghodsi.
“Yoga is not only releasing the endorphins, but it helps [with] focusing and centering you and so because of that, it’s helping the way that you’re interpreting your pain experience,” Ghodsi said.
Indeed, a study published in 2016, yoga, particularly the cobra, cat, and fish poses, reduced pain in women experiencing painful cramps compared to women who did not participate in yoga.
Ghodsi said that aerobic exercise, like walking or jogging, can also reduce period cramps because similar to yoga, it releases endorphins. “Anytime that you are relieving stress and strain, it overall will help with the way that you’re experiencing pain.”
A study, published in 2018, found that women who did regularly did aerobic exercises had less period pain compared to women who did not do any aerobic exercises.
But Ghodsi said if your menstrual cramps aren’t relieved by workouts and interfere with your day-to-day life, she recommends talking to your doctor.