Menstrual cramps. Many women dread the arrival of our periods because of painful cramping, headaches, bloating, and a variety of other symptoms. Menstrual cramps are thought to be related to natural hormone-like substances called prostaglandins which cause contraction of the uterus. Women use Tylenol, Midol, chocolate, heat pads, and a plethora of other home remedies in an attempt to get rid of cramps.
Go ahead and look it up online. Ask your friends how they relieve their cramps. You will probably get a ton of semi-useful advice. Regular physical activity, yoga, balanced diet, herbal remedies, oral contraceptives, chocolate, bananas, and even socks filled with rice and heated in the microwave are said to be effective ways to relieve cramps. It is rare that you will find a site or book that recommends sex as a relief for cramps. But many women find sex while on their periods (especially when experiencing abdominal pain) to be thoroughly unappealing.
Why does sex relieve menstrual cramps? An orgasm causes your uterus to contract. This enables it to use up excess prostaglandins. Some say that sex can relieve pain by stretching out the contracting uterine muscle. Others argue that cramping is caused partially by blood pooling up in the abdomen, especially in the uterine/cervical tissues, and sex with orgasm clears up some of the congestion that causes cramping in the first place. Whatever the reason, many women find that sex during menstrual cramps completely relieves their symptoms!
But when the few internet sites that recommend sex for the relief of menstrual cramps discuss the topic, the conversation is disturbingly hetero-centric. Plus, some sites say that sexual intercourse can at times actually worsen cramps if you are in a position where the uterus can become disrupted. It really seems to be the orgasm, not the act of heterosexual intercourse that is effective in cramp relief. Even the rare sites that are comfortable recommending sex seem to completely leave out the lesbian and bisexual population, or the huge population of women who do not achieve orgasm in heteronormative sexual intercourse, and only achieve orgasm by clitoral stimulation. Some sexologists have suggested there may be ways of moving your body during heterosexual sex so that the tip of the clitoris comes into contact with your partner’s pelvis, and you can achieve orgasm during intercourse. But this has not been confirmed, and as many as 75% of women have never had orgasm by penile thrust alone.
Well, here comes the M word….MASTURBATE. I am absolutely perplexed as to why nobody ever recommends masturbation as a relief for menstrual cramps. One of the closest recommendations I have seen is a veiled comment by user elizabelis on allnurses.com. “I don’t think intercourse is necessarily the best way to go about relieving cramps through orgasm. We’re all grownups, I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate…be creative!”
Many women report their most intense orgasms as occurring during masturbation. It has been repeatedly suggested that women achieve orgasm more quickly and more pleasurably during masturbation. Face it, most women know best how to please themselves. Female masturbation is often necessary to know how to achieve pleasure in other forms of sexual activity. And female masturbation is a completely healthy and safe way to achieve sexual pleasure and relieve tension without a partner.
But female masturbation seems to be a huge taboo in our society, so it is not surprising that advocating masturbation in relief of menstrual cramps is virtually unheard-of. Masturbation could be a great way to relieve cramps safely and naturally, without a partner. Of course, partner sex with orgasm also works, but many women do not have sexual partners at all times or do not feel inclined to engage in sexual activity with a partner during their period.
There are more than twice as many nerve fibers in the clitoris (about 8,000) than there are in the entire penis. The most orgasms ever recorded in one hour in a research setting is 17 in the case of male orgasms. In the case of women, the number is a shocking 134. For lack of a better way to put it, we’ve got this really cool thing down there, and it is sad that so many women are so afraid to talk about it, or even to use it at all. Just say the M word!