Applying heat to the tummy to ease menstrual pain is advice women have passed down through the generations. But now scientists have proven that this advice is right.
What the Scientist Say
Scientists say that placing a warm water bottle on the abdomen can not only alleviate menstrual cramping but can also relieve pain caused by cystitis. They say placing something warm on the skin can alleviate abdominal pain in a similar way to painkillers for up to an hour.
The scientists, from University College London, found that heat treatment works by blocking pain messages to the brain.
According to Dr. Brian King, when presenting his findings to the Physiological Society's annual conference, 'The heat doesn't just provide comfort and have a placebo effect - it actually deactivates the pain at a molecular level in much the same way as pharmaceutical painkillers work. We have discovered how this molecular process works.'
It actually deactivates the pain at a molecular level in much the same way as pharmaceutical painkillers work.
The scientists found that if warmth over 40 degrees Celsius is applied to the skin near to where internal pain is felt, it switches on heat receptors at the site of injury. These heat receptors in turn block the effect of chemical messengers that cause pain to be detected by the body.
Lying down and using a hot water bottle can be very helpful, but sometimes our busy schedules do not allow for this!
Luckily there are many over the counter, convenient, “on the go” heating pads available at drug stores that can easily be used under your clothes at work or throughout the day.
While using a hot water bottle is an effective way to get through that terrible pain when in a pinch, there are a number of ways to get rid of period pains forever including through diet. Many nutritionists claim that eating foods rich in magnesium to help. For more tips for helping with period pains check out Dr Emily Lipinski's top tips.