A Reader's Treasury Of Cures For Your CrampsS

Recently, I complained of my monthly misery, seeking help — and thank you, seriously, for getting all up in my uterus. Thanks to all of your suggestions, we now present the ultimate guide to curing your cramps!

First, let it be known that some popular remedies — drinking plenty of water; not using a tampon; taking Advil, Midol, or Naproxen — are ones that I have tried. All are well and good — and to some extent work, depending. In addition, for every person who read about my cramps and said that the physical extremes were "not normal," there were two or three people who said, "That happens to me." Also: Everyone who recommended that I see a doctor was right to suggest it. I do see the gyno once a year, but I made an appointment for later in the month specifically to talk about my period. (In the past, everything has checked out fine, but I've changed doctors and we'll see what happens.)

Still, if you suffer from cramps — mild or severe — we present:

A DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CRAMP RELIEF

Suggestions, in no particular order:

HEATING PAD
"I know this is random and maybe everyone already does this, but if I have bad cramps I use a heating pad on my lower back. I put it right where my butt meets my back and lie down on it after taking four Advil (nothing else works for me) and laying off the caffeine. My doctor told me that when you're lying like that, your uterus is actually closer to your back than to the front, so this works better to get the heat there. That has always worked for me, even before I was on BC and I had the dizzy, sweaty, tunnel vision, I'm-going-to-pass-out kind of cramps." [Via]

IBUPROFEN. A TON OF IT.
"Advil comes in 800mg horsepill form. You can get them from your doctor. Or you can just buy the GIANT over the counter bottle and take four at a blow. Add to this no less than two midol, and then eat a piece of bread of cheese to help the fact that this cocktail of pills will eat your stomach lining if it isn't given something to distract it. Added bonus—taking that much ibuprophen at once causes the blood to come out in extremely heavy clots and Very fast. Doesn't sound like a benefit, until you've had 3/4 of your cycle come out in one 20 minute shower and your pad/tampon use becomes minimal." {Via]

RASPBERRY LEAF TEA & EVENING PRIMROSE OIL
"Raspberry Leaf Tea starting a week before you expect it, continually brew pitchers and drink it throughout the day thru cramp days. I started taking a product called Chaste Tree in liquid form by Standard process vitamins a week before 1 capful in juice/day and it has been amazing. Also Evening Primrose Oil all month long-2 caps a day will help and your hair gets nice and shiny." [Via]

POPPY TEA
"Okay, a male normally shouldn't have a place in forums such as this. However, this info comes from an ex of mine and her friends also swear by this: Poppy Tea. You can buy dried opium poppies legally in the U.S. through a loophole in the law (they're allowed for decorative use). I buy mine online from a wonderful lady called Sweet Paula. Crush 3-5 pods, brew them like you would coffee or loose leaf tea, and make around 5 cups of poppy tea (it's kind of bitter, so I recommend adding hot chocolate mix for flavor). It's like taking an all-natural Vicodin or Percocet that lasts all day. She introduced me to the tea after I sprained a muscle in my hand two years ago at work. The tea allowed me to keep working on bikes all day without any pain." [Via]

MEXICAN WILD YAM ROOT
"I have a friend who suffers from the debilitating cramps and she swears by Mexican Wild Yam Root. NSAIDS don't touch her cramps, but the wild yam apparently does." [Via]

CRAMP BARK
"Cramp bark. It comes in a tincture at health food stores. Mix a few drops with a big glass of water. Not sure if it's part placebo and def doesn't make them totally go away but it helps (at least for me!)." [Via]

IRON & CHROMAGEN TO INCREASE IRON ABSORPTION
"I was diagnosed as anemic last year and started taking chromagen as well as taking steps to increase my iron absorption. The past few months I've noticed that my cramps have decreased, as has the dizziness/general weakness." [Via]

MASTURBATION/ORGASMS
"It's temporary, true, but always takes away the worst pain for at least a little while." [Via]

"Orgasms day before and the first couple days and no tampons if the cramps are that hard." [Via]

BOOZE
"My grandma's cure-all: Liquor. Have a glass of wine, or some rum and maybe put a heating pad on your abdomen and you're good to go. I usually have a Guinness because I think it cures everything." [Via]

"After nearly 26 years of having them, the only thing I find that works is booze, and not talking to anyone for a day or two. I do the not talking to anyone during the day (while I have to interact with co-workers and family), and the drinking in the evening. As an aside, I also read recently that exercise does nothing for cramps. More opportunities for the sauce!" [Via email]

"Buttered rum is my winter-time cramp buster." [Via]

MENSTRUAL CUP
"My menstrual cup has basically killed cramps for me. I'm not sure how, but it has been a miracle. I only get one giant cramp to warn me that Shark Week is 8 hours away, pop the cup in, and life is easier than it was before." [Via]

"My cramps got better once I switched to the Diva cup." [Via]

BANANAS/AVOCADOS
"Eating bananas." [Via]

"A couple of people suggested bananas (the potassium acts as a natural pain reliever). I just wanted to add that for those of us who hate bananas (yes we exist!), avocadoes actually contain 60% more potassium than those devil fruits. So, guacamole and not-too-salty corn chips would be my suggestion." [Via]

BIRTH CONTROL

"I had hell cramps. We went to the art museum in 7th grade and I thought I was going to die. I have described it as being repeatedly stabbed in the lower abdomen, or being stabbed once and then having the stabber play connect the dots with my organs. It was bad. So I went on the pill when I was 14 and it was better, but still bad once a month. So when I was 15 I started the Seasonel way and it was better again but still bad every three months. Basically it was only better because I didn't have to have it. Then when I was 18 I just started not stopping the pill and I haven't had a period in three years. It's cool, I asked the doctor and she gave me permission. Never having a period has done wonders for my death cramps." [Via]

"Ortho Tricyclen Lo works GREAT. I had clearer skin, absolutely no cramps, and my period was a day shorter! I've switched to Enpresse in the past year, due to some spotting on my old pill, but I was very happy and side-effect free for all of college. It was amazing. Now all my period is is a minor nuisance, instead of a nightmare." [Via email]

"I highly recommend the Mirena IUD. It changed my life. After four months, I no longer have a period, much less the debilitating cramps and mood swings. And most insurance will cover the insertion." [Via email]

"If you can, I suggest Mirena. I love mine so much: half-day periods and no cramps!" [Via]

"Yaz. It's the only BC that doesn't make me psychopathic and also takes care of the migraines. I take it without the placebos, so I haven't had a cycle in about two years now, and I love it. If I never ever have another period again I will rejoice forever and ever." [Via]

MARIJUANA
"Pot pot pot. Pot. And more pot. And I'm 22 with two jobs, one of which is teaching at the college level. Oh, and I'm also a full-time graduate student. Just in case anyone wanted to argue about it depleting brain cells or motivation." [Via]

"Smoke some weed!" [Via]

LIMITED DIET
"You just may want to consider that the consciousness raising way to eat will also benefit your body. I have not eaten meat for 30 years. not only were my periods easy but i have yet to experience ONE menopausal discomfort. my sister who is 2 years older, and a nutritionist, has had the same experience." [Via email]

"The only time I have been able to rid myself entirely was when I was a crazy-vegan-no-caffeine-or-refined-sugar-or-white-flour-or-yeast 17 year old. It was a blissfully crampsless year." [Via]

ACUPUNTCURE & ROLLERSKATING
"Here's what works for me: acupuncture to regulate my cycle and muscle relaxers to ease the pain. i take 2 prescription methocarbomal (cheap! around 8 bucks a bottle) with 2 ibuprofin and the combo works wonders. i hate exercise, but rollerskating when i'm PMSing takes the edge off and gets the oxygen flowing down there. highly recommended. Rollerskating totally works because you're working the thighs. I get hella nasty leg and lower back pain. Just sayin'." [Via email]

HOT WATER
"Hot baths/showers. For some reason, as long as I am being pelted with
hot water, I am perfectly fine." [Via email]

COMPLAINING

"There is no scientific reason this would help but I really like to complain about my period. I am miserable. It makes me feel better to bray that fact into the world." [Via email]

GO TO THE DOCTOR!

"Cramps that bad are a sign something is wrong. The good news is that a lot of the reasons are completely treatable. You don't have to suffer like this… I had severe fibroids and endometriosis, one of the larger fibroids prolapsed through my cervix and then ruptured. I had a hysterectomy and almost bled to death. There may have been some shouting 'I told you something was wrong, assholes!' in there somewhere, memory is fuzzy."[Via email]

"You might have an ovarian cyst or endometriosis." [Via email]

"I was the very same way from the age of about 11 on to 26… I had a cyst, the size of my fist, growing in my ovaries. I had it removed about 3 years ago and since then, it has been like night and day. I now only get my period for about 2-3 days a month and any pain I may have is easily managed with two Aleve." [Via email]

LAUGHTER
"My Freudian therapist told me that bad PMS meant that you're not in touch with your femininity. I laughed so hard my cramps went away." [Via]

Thanks again to everyone who let the knowledge flow!

Image from Koit's "Blob" animation, which makes having a period look fun.

Earlier: Cramped Style: A Monthly Misery, And The Search For Solace

List made possible with the help of intern Noorain Khan.