Your period isn’t due until a few days from now, but as a friendly reminder that it’s coming (dun dun dun), your stomach has been churning and cramping and, frankly, feeling the worst. Here, 15 things to do to stop the pain in its tracks.
1. Take ibuprofen. An over-the-counter pain reliever (like Advil) in moderation every four to six hours can seriously reduce inflammation.
2. Invest in a hot water bottle or electric heating pad. Ah, the sweet relief of thermoplastic rubber or fabric-covered wire circuits. Science has shown that placing something warm on your abdomen or lower back for up to an hour can actually mimic the effects of a painkiller.
3. You could also drink warm water. Expect effects similar to the hot water bottle. A tall glass can work wonders and help your stomach muscles unclench.
4. Eat foods rich in calcium and magnesium. The minerals—found in foods like leafy greens, avocado, yogurt and dark chocolate—act as an all-natural muscle relaxer for the uterus. Bam.
5. Or have a banana. Cramps can be caused by a potassium deficiency, according to studies. Bananas contain tons of it, so eat up.
6. You could also eat some pineapple. The delicious fruit contains an enzyme called bromelain that has been shown to reduce pain and cramps. Yesss.
7. Go for a power walk. Sure, it feels like an insane thought when you’re doubled over, but the brisk movement helps your body pump more blood and release endorphins that can actually counteract your cramps.
8. Nurse a ginger ale. The all-natural kind is best, but if you can’t find that, a ginger capsule or chew can be as effective as ibuprofen, according to research.
9. Or sip an herbal tea. Peppermint or chamomile is ideal for soothing an upset stomach. And make sure it’s a steamy cup, as we mentioned before.
10. Treat yourself to acupuncture. Research has shown that after a single session, your body’s opioid receptors are much more receptive to naturally occurring painkillers that help alleviate muscle tension and discomfort.
11. Or get a massage. Maybe avoid a deep-tissue treatment, but a gentle massage can improve circulation and blood flow—both good things when it comes to curing cramps.
12. Take a hot bath. We repeat: It’s all about the heat.
13. Pop a multivitamin. FYI, vitamins A, C and E can all help reduce your cramps (not to mention bloating and mood swings).
14. Or take a fennel supplement. Studies prove that, even in low doses, it’s super effective at alleviating menstrual pain.
15. Skip the wine. Bad news: Alcohol can seriously aggravate your PMS symptoms. So maybe lay off the red pre-period. (You can do it.)