Your Diet, Period.

By: Althea Burke

Ladies, there's no secret - cramps suck. Did you know painful menstrual cramps are one of the leading reasons for women missing work or school? And one huge reason for that pain is fibroids - which are quite common in black women, but rarely discussed. Just like the fact that eating certain foods can diminish the pain you experience during your cycle. In this article we'll take a look at diet modifications that can help alleviate painful menstrual cramps caused by fibroids in Black women. 


Why do we cramp in the first place?

Cramps are a result of muscles in the womb contracting and relaxing to help shed the inner lining of the womb during menstruation. The movement involved in the contracting and relaxing of the uterus to shed its inner lining can aggravate a larger sized fibroid. Most fibroids are so small that they cannot be seen by the human eye, do not cause any symptoms and are only detected during a routine pelvic examination. This article is a resource for females who are experiencing pelvic pain due to painful periods as a result of fibrous growths in the uterus.

Let’s look at the word Fibroid by root and suffix:

fibr-: fiber, entrails, filament

-oids: resemblance to

This is a condition that affects the internal organs, it grows out like a plant would with a stem and tip, and resembles fine threads. Fibroids are benign growths. There are four types that are defined by where the growth occurs in relation to the uterine wall. The most common is within the uterine walls.  


Where they can grow?

  1. Lying under the tissues under a mucous membrane. Rarest.
  2. Within the uterine walls. Most common type.

  3. Grown outside of the uterine wall.

  4. From an elongated stalk of tissue. These can twist and cause pain.

How to treat, what to eat?

Early detection and treatment of fibroids is the primary means of preventing their growth and in turn, how they affect the quality of life. Studies show that Black women deal with pain associated with their reproductive organs longer than any other group before seeking medical treatment because of historical practices like compulsory sterilization and unaffordable medical insurance. Alternative treatment options like herbs and dietary supplements are sought out by 37% of Black women and 60% of all women employ over-the counter medications to control symptoms.

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  • Diet can help with fibroids and painful menstrual cramps. An anti-inflammatory diet is key to reducing a painful period and further aggravating some uterine fibroids. Natural supplements can help too.
  • Minimizing processed foods, dairy products, alcohol, refined flour, sugar and for some women, staying away from gluten or grains helped to reduce pelvic pain. All of these foods induce a chemical response in the body that is involved in inflammation and pain.
  • Increase intake of good fats, omega 3s and iron through seeds (walnut & pumpkin), fish, flaxseed, sea vegetables; and water through cucumbers, berries, celery. Ginger is a commonly used for menstrual cramps as well as magnesium to help relax muscle tissue.

Painful periods do not have to be the norm. If you have not had your routine physical this year (sexually active or not) then you may want to book a visit. Start incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet before your period starts, and you might notice a reduction in pain over time.