When Mother Nature (or Aunt Flo) decides to come and visit, it's typically uncomfortable and inconvenient at best. Yes, it's a totally natural thing that happens to every woman, but the few days we experience cramping and shed uterine tissue from our bodies always have us readjusting everything in our lives to make us feel more comfortable.
And then there are some of us who get really bad side effects during our periods, like nausea. I used to get cramps so bad that I had to be picked up from school and lie in bed all day. Luckily for me, the pain that comes with the cramps never led to nausea during my period, but according to Gunvor Ekman-Ordeberg, MD, Ph.D., ob-gyn and co-founder of DeoDoc, pain from cramps can lead to that sick feeling. Here, she explains why you might feel that way and how to treat nausea during your period.
"There are several reasons to explain why a woman may experience nausea during their period. One of the most common reasons is pain caused by menstrual cramps," says Eckman-Ordeberg. "Nausea can also occur from the hormonal changes in the body during the menstrual cycle."
She also explains that based on genetics, some women are more prone to nausea during their periods and before they get pregnant. "We know that nausea during menstruation is more common before women get pregnant for the first time. The reason for this is not yet known, but there are studies indicating that it is likely due to the uterus changes made after a pregnancy, like the uterus being able to handle increased pressure," she says. "Additionally, there is a genetic factor involved: Studies show that women with pain-related diseases are more prone to nausea during menstruation."
There is bad news and good news when it comes to fighting off the urge to throw up, Ekman-Ordeberg told us. The bad news: "There is no real way to prevent nausea, as it is caused by internal bodily functions," she says. "If the tips do not help and the symptoms persist, I recommend seeing your ob-gyn, as some diseases, such as endometriosis, can cause nausea during the period."
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The good news, though, is there are options to help ease nausea during our periods. The first thing she recommends is anti-inflammatory medication.
"Before menstruation begins, the inner lining of the uterus starts to make prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances/chemical compounds," she says. "When the inner lining breaks down during menstruation, prostaglandins are released, causing inflammation and uterus contractions, thus creating painful cramps. Therefore, I recommend anti-inflammatory medication since it reduces both inflammation and pain."
Her second tip: If nausea during your period starts to impede your day-to-day routine, she suggests contraceptive options.
"If nausea is rampant and affects everyday life, I would also recommend considering contraceptive medication or a hormonal IUD, as this will regulate hormonal changes," she says. "As with any medical need, always discuss options with your doctor."
A third tip: Flo, the women's health app, recommends taking an antacid to help with nausea symptoms. Consult with your doctor before taking it, and ask for recommendations.
Another idea? For the time being, avoid foods that might make you nauseous. Try clear soups like broths, stick to bland foods, and stay away from anything heavy or overly greasy. For general nausea symptoms, UCSF Health recommends eating smaller portions and eating more often to meet your daily calorie and protein needs.
And if, for some reason, you tried all these routes and you're still feeling nauseous, you should see your doctor to check if there's something more serious or another underlying condition going on.
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