Dr Arikawe Adeolu, a Medical Practitioner at the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja, said women who avoided sugary foods before their menstruation would experience less cramps.
Adeolu said this in an interview in Abuja.
He said that research revealed that sugar increased the level of inflammation in the body thereby increasing the production of prostaglandin which was responsible for menstrual cramps.
He said to reduce the intensity of cramps during the menstrual cycle one need to control the excess production of prostaglandin in the body.
“There are Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug (NSAID) that can block the production of prostaglandin like Diclofenac and Ibuprofen.
“If you are expecting your menstrual cycle in two to three days time you can begin taking anti-inflammatory drugs to prevent the body from producing excess amounts of prostaglandin.
“If you wait to take the medication when the period has already commenced, the drugs will not have the effect they would have had if you had taken them two days to the commencement of menstruation.
“Once menstruation kicks in, it means the prostaglandin has been produced which will cause contraction of the muscles of the uterus leading to cramping,” Adeolu said.
He said that although the drugs could reduce cramps during menstruation significantly one could develop health complications from ingesting them if not properly taken as prescribed by a physician.
He therefore, advised that the drugs be taken with food and not for more than two to three days before the menstrual cycle commenced.
He also advised those not interested in taking medication to adjust their diet especially around the cycle in order to help reduce the pain when the period starts.
According to him, refined foods made with flour and sugar should be avoided before the period commences and also one can consume foods rich in vitamins E, D and calcium.
Adeolu said that the intensity of menstrual cramps experienced by women differed from person to person, adding that the cramps reduced in intensity as the menstruation progressed.
“What causes these cramps in the first place is the cyclical hormonal change in women which is responsible for the menstrual cycle.
“Once your menstruation begins, oestrogen starts building up. At your mid cycle you ovulate and when this occurs progesterone is produced.
“The progesterone tries to maintain the uterus in a favourable condition to receive a fertilised egg but if after about nine days the egg is not fertilised the ‘corpus luteum cyst’ which produces the progesterone shrinks and dies.
“If for any reason the egg is fertilised, the egg produces some signal to maintain the corpus luteum cyst telling the uterus to be in a state of readiness for pregnancy,” Adeolu said.
He said that when the progesterone production ceased, prostaglandin starts being produced thereby causing the muscles of the uterus to contract leading to cramping and shedding of the endometrium.
However, the expert said some individuals produced more prostaglandin than others, adding that such persons often experienced severe menstrual cramps.