Half of the world's population has periods, yet talking about it remains a taboo subject in our society.
But we need to talk openly about menstruation to tackle the social stigma, help young girls avoid feelings of fear and confusion caused by their first menstrual cycle, teach them about post-menstrual hygiene, as well as how to be able to identify changes in menstruation that may need to be addressed.
The Prevalence of Menstrual Pain
On average, a woman menstruates about 7 years over a lifetime, and for a large number of women, this time can be filled with a considerable amount of pain.
According to this study about the prevalence of menstrual pain in young women conducted in 2012, 84.1% of women reported symptoms of menstrual pain, 43.1% reported that pain occurred during every period, and 41% reported that pain occurred during some periods.
It's easy to conclude then that menstrual pain is a very common problem that can cause significant discomfort, needs for pain medication, and absence from work or social activities for most women.
What are the Most Common Menstrual Pain Symptoms?
The most common symptom of menstrual pain is an intense throbbing or cramping pain in the lower abdomen, also known as dysmenorrhea.
Too many prostaglandins usually cause primary dysmenorrhea, hormone-like substances produced by your body at tissue damage or infection sites. Prostaglandins tighten and relax the muscles of your uterus, thus causing period cramps. The pain starts a day or two before your period and can last a few days, sometimes longer.
Secondary dysmenorrhea, which typically starts later in life, is caused by conditions such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids. It begins before your period starts, continues after it ends, and often worsens over time.
Other symptoms of menstrual pain may include pain that radiates to the lower back and thighs, dull and continuous ache, headache, dizziness, nausea, and diarrhea.
How Can Red Light Therapy Help with Menstrual Cramps?
Red light therapy (also known as photobiomodulation, red LED light therapy, low-level light therapy, or low-level laser therapy) is a type of treatment that uses light-emitting diodes to emit red light (with wavelengths typically ranging between 630 and 700 nanometers) and near-infrared light (700-2500 nanometers).
It mimics the range of light that the sun emits at sunset and dawn, affecting not only the surface of the skin, but penetrating beyond it to impact the entire body, reaching all the way to soft tissue, muscles, joints, and bone.
Among its numerous health benefits, red light therapy can be effectively used to ease the symptoms of menstrual cramps. A study found that poor blood flow causes the constriction of the uterine vessels causing pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea.
Red light therapy treatments can offer pain relief to those women by triggering the release of nitric oxide, a compound made by your body that improves blood flow to damaged or diseased tissues.
Nitric oxide may also help manage painful menstrual periods because it's involved in the mechanism of pain generation and transmission throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems.
This study compared the use of combined oral contraceptives (ethinyl estradiol and desogestrel) and red light therapy for menstrual relief and found that they both achieved clinically meaningful levels of pain reduction.
Another study found that using a red light therapy device for the duration of the menstrual cycles not only reduced menstrual cramps but was also found to be a safe and effective alternative to the use of analgesics in Korean women with dysmenorrhea.
How Red Light Therapy Works for Women's Health
Red light therapy can go a long way toward improving hormonal imbalances that can affect women's health.
A deficiency of serotonin, a brain-produced chemical, is believed to be one of the leading causes of PMS symptoms. However, red light therapy treatments can modulate serotonin levels, improving hormonal imbalance and reducing average menstrual pain.
Another study found that red light therapy can positively impact people suffering from hypothyroidism, a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland doesn't make enough thyroid hormones. In fact, undergoing red light therapy treatments helped 47% of participants decrease their use of thyroid hormone medications.
Red light therapy also increases the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an energy-carrying molecule that fuels cellular functions. This can also help curb stress and fatigue, thus helping to regulate chemical imbalances.
Stimulation of cell proliferation can also promote repair and wound healing and decrease inflammation, all of which helps relieve menstrual pain.
In addition, red light therapy can raise the levels of beta-endorphins, brain hormones that are involved in pain relief. Therefore, by raising beta-endorphin levels, red light therapy can help women manage period pain easier.
How Red Light Therapy Can Improve Sleep
Red light therapy is not only helpful in terms of regulating hormonal imbalance and management of frequent pain, it can also help improve your sleep patterns.
Red light therapy may trigger the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates night and day/sleep and wake patterns, also known as the circadian rhythm. This can lead to better sleep and recovery, helping you feel more rested and energized, which can also offer natural relief of menstrual discomfort.
This study of elite Chinese female basketball players determined that the light stimulation of red light wavelengths improved their sleep quality and offered a non-pharmacologic way to prevent sleep disorders after training.
Choosing the Right At-home Red Light Therapy Device
Red light therapy can offer a safe, effective, natural, non-invasive, and chemical-free treatment for menstrual pain relief. And unlike using various pain relief medications, red light therapy has no negative side effects. In addition, it doesn't cause tissue damage or thermal injuries, and it does not emit UV rays.
The best part about using red light therapy is that you can choose the most convenient, easy to use, portable at-home device that can help you target exactly the area of the body you want to treat.
Infraredi offers a wide variety of the highest quality devices at the most affordable prices, delivered with free express shipping straight to your door. It also offers a 3-year warranty and a 60-day trial so you can test it out for yourself, and return it if it doesn't work for you.
So, there's nothing to lose if you incorporate red light therapy to treat your menstrual pain today.