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Namaste's picture

Namaste

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Killer Cramps

OK, I've put off on posting this for a couple months now, but I'm tired of suffering. I guess I've also been a little embarrassed to post this.  But chances are if you're a woman, you've experienced this at some point in your life. So, hopefully you can help me out.

 

I used to be able to manage my menstrual cramps pretty well with just Tylenol, but the last few months they seem to be getting worse (or maybe I'm just getting wimpier).

 

Anyone else out there get terrible cramps? Any tips or tricks would be much appreciated.

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jensamember's picture

jensamember

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Ok, I'll be the first to go...

I find that everything changes as you get older...that is one of them!  I find a hot water bottle helps, but mostly I am finding increased excersise helps with craps and 'flow'...

 

I would recommend Advil or Ibuprohin (helps inflamation)...instead of Tylonal which is accetaminafin...terrible spelling!! But they are hard words!!

Serena's picture

Serena

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If advil and ibuprofin don't work go to the doctor and get a stronger perscription.    Don't lay in bed all day.  It gets worse.

myst's picture

myst

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Ah namaste, this thread brings back painful memories. I also would recommend ibuprofin and like Serena says you can get something stronger with a prescription if you need it. The hot water bottle or heating pad can help. Although I recall times when nothing seemed to help, not even curling up in a ball and whimpering. And likes jens ... the older I get the less cramping pain (other PMS symptoms are just as strong as ever, but not the cramps).

 

Also, if severe cramping is new for you you may want to check in with your doctor.

 

Thinking of you ........

Namaste's picture

Namaste

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Thanks Jen, Serena, and Myst. I'll try the ibuprofin instead. Fingers crossed that it'll help....atleast a little bit. I do have a hot water bottle which is really handy when I'm at home, but there isn't much I can do when I'm out at school all day and that's what I'm finding really hard. I know that exercise and walking would probably help, but it's just hard to get up and do that when I'm feeling poorly. It's hard because I tend to get very grumpy to begin with and this is certainly adding to it. Thanks for your suggestions and thoughts.

Serena's picture

Serena

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Don't be embarrassed Namaste.  If the guys don't like it they can just stay out of our thread. 

Actually, I am changing my advice.  It may be worth a trip to the doctor anyway if your cramps have gotten worse.  It could indicate a cyst or endometriosis or some other issues.  The best news would be that there is nothing wrong it doesn't hurt to rule that out.  But a change in your montly cycle is worth checking out.

Jadespring's picture

Jadespring

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I can't add much to what has already been said I've done it all. When I had really bad cramps I took long hot salt baths. Same idea as a water bottle or heating pad I guess. Some light stretching, though painful also seemed to help, emphasis on the light part.  I totally agree with Serena though that if regular meds don't help to see a doctor. I'm not a pill popper in general but this is one area where super pain is involved that I think pills are a-ok. The doctor can also check and make sure that they aren't for another reason. A friend of mine at age 19, who had bad cramps found out she had polyps I think. Whatever it was, it was uncommon but not threatening and very treatable and her monthly cramps were greatly alleviated when it got dealt with.  

 If you're into trying some basic herbs you can try crampbark (it got it's name for a reason). You can get it a make it into a tea but it's also widely available at most stores that sell herbal supplements in a pill form and sometimes in various pms formulas in either capsules or tea bags.   It often is paired with chamomile.  Crampbark is an antispasmodic and chamomile a mild sedative.  If I do get cramps now which isn't that often that's what I use.

   The good news is, though not helpful right now is that most women I knew who like me had really, really bad cramps when younger all experienced a lessening of them as they got older.  I used to get the curl in the fetal position and cry out loud type cramps every single month, now I barely get them at all and they are way way less painful.  

Namaste's picture

Namaste

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Thanks guys. I have mentioned it to my doctor. At this point, she's not too concerned. I can really relate to what both Myst and Jadespring said about just curling up in a ball. I don't know if it really helps, but it does sometimes make me feel a bit better. Jadespring, a few other people have told me that they tend to lessen as you age. I hope that's the case for me. I've also heard that cramps tend to decrease dramatically after having children. Anyone know if that's true?

myst's picture

myst

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My cramps did lessen after giving birth, namaste and I've heard that from others as well. However, I had my child when I was well into my 30's and by then my cramps weren't nearly as bad as they had been in my teens and 20's.

Jadespring's picture

Jadespring

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Namaste I can totally relate to not having the choice to deal with it at home and have to be out all day.  When I had it really bad I just generally said screw it and took the day off regardless of what I'd miss. :)  Can't always do that though.

 

 I just saw a commercial on tv which made me think of something.  It was that one with the man who has back pain and uses this patch thing on his back which heats up...you might have seen it. He puts it on and wiggles around and dances. I have no idea if it would work for cramps but if a hot water bottle works maybe the heat bandage thingy would work too if one has to be out and about.

 

 As for the ball curling up thing I remember one time as a teenager that it was particulary bad. I was basically unfunctional and curled up on my bed crying crying. My Mom was out for the day and my Dad came in. I still remember the completely helpless expression on his face and him saying over and over, "I don't know what I can do... I don't know what I can do..."  Poor Dad he lived in a house with four women.  

Serena's picture

Serena

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I used to use a heating pad on my lower stomach when I was in my mid twenties.  It helps as long as the heating pad is on.

BethanyK's picture

BethanyK

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I was just going to suggest that heat pad type thing Jadespring. I think the one you're think is thermacare. It'd probaly work the same as a hot water bottle only you can move around with it. Might be a bit uncomfortable but can't be worse than the cramps.

 

Felling for ya Namaste.

st_oreo's picture

st_oreo

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Namaste,

 

I'm not big on taking pills for pain, but I've also had some severe cramps in my life.  Perhaps not a post for the squeamish, but, two things that I've had help me with severe cramps are:  1) I use a Diva Cup.  Pads and tampons killed me, and with the Cup, my cramps are much better.  I've heard that it has helped others too.  2) Orgasms.  Whether they come from you, or with help from a partner, they help.  Things tense up, then relax.  Plus the endorphins afterwards calm me down and help me relax.  I'm not sure it's scientific, but, it's a method I'm very fond of!  Of course that probably won't help when you're at school! 

 

However, one thing I have used at work when I didn't have a hot water bottle was my Nalgene bottle filled with the hottest tap water I could find.  It stayed surprisingly warm, and when I was sitting at my desk, I just discretely curled up to keep it tucked into where it hurt. It might be a solution for lectures or library sessions.  Any water bottle would work! 

 

Good luck! 

 

Punkins's picture

Punkins

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Ibuprofen!  It works well because it is an anti-inflamatory as well as pain reliever.  Don't be afraid to exceed the dosage on the bottle if you have to.  Lots of times I've taken 3 when they say to only take 2.  Keep in mind that ibuprofen is harder on your stomach than acetominophen, so if you have stomach issues, you may want to be cautious.  Also, some experts recommend starting to take ibuprofen the day before and then your cramps aren't supposed to be as bad.  Of course, easier to do if you run like clockwork.  I've also used the thermacare things.  They are good for when you are not home, and they last for quite a while.  I also like long hot baths.  Exercising can also help.

 

st_oreo wrote:

 Orgasms.

 

Yep. These work well too.  But yes, definitely more of an at home thing ...

DaisyJane's picture

DaisyJane

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I would echo the suggestions to discuss this with your physician.  And if it doesn't calm down you may want to ask for a referral to a gynecologist.

 

For years I experienced severe cramping along with what is called "flooding".  It is exactly what it sounds like!  It was so severe that for about a day it was difficult for me to actually leave the bathroom, much less the house.  I didn't talk about it with anyone.  Among my circles this wasn't something women talked about.  I figured that this is what life was life after three kids and two C-sections. I just dealt with it.

 

Interestingly enough it only was discussed by my physician when she discovered, through routine bloodwork, that I was severely anemic.  She was trying to figure out what was causing it...ulcer...whatever.  She said my hemoglobin levels were so low that she was amazed I could get out of bed in the morning (this was back when specialson wasn't really sleeping at all so I figured I was tired all the time for that reason). After a bit of discussion we figured out that is was out of control periods that was causing this.

 

She referred me to a gynecologist to determine the cause and I think there can be a few causes....fibroids etc.  In my case it wasn't fibroids but was something else...can't remember.  I had surgery...an ablation which destroys the lining of your uterus.  Voila...no periods, no cramping, no PMS.  It is great, however it is only recommended if the woman is finished having kids.

 

I would suggest that if your cramps or periods are so severe that they interfere with your ability function in day to day activities that you may want to talk with a specialist. 

 

In the meantime I would agree that anti-inflammatories are a good idea.  Your doctor can prescribe something stronger than over the counter ibuprofen.  If your doctor didn't take you seriously the first time, make another appointment. Sometimes you need to be assertive with physicians.

lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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I would ask for a referral to an OB/Gyn.  I am not sure of your age but it is possible that you have fibroids or endometritis.  Get a check out with an expert, lots of GP's, as well meaning as they are , can come down on the "it's a natural part of the cycle" line and it isn't necessarily.

 

Ask for a consult.

 

Discomfort is normal, bloating is fairly normal, extreme severe pain isn't. 

Namaste's picture

Namaste

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Thanks for all your replies. The pain got so bad last night that I could barely stand up. It was actually pretty scary, so I ended up going to the ER. I'll spare you all the gorry details, but the long and short of it is they don't know what's causing such severe pain. They gave me some demerol, kept me overnight and have given me a referral to an OB/Gyn for some more tests. It'll be a few months before I can get an appointment, so I will use all of your tips in the meantime. Thanks again.

myst's picture

myst

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Oh wow namaste - I am so sorry to know you had such terrible pain and had to be in the hospital overnight. And such a long wait to see the specialist. I'm thinking about you.

busymom's picture

busymom

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Hey Namaste,

Sorry to hear that this has been going on for you.  Smart that you went to Emergency last night though and got something for the pain.

I'm certainly no doctor, but I have had pain much like what you described and it was caused by ruptured ovarian cysts.  Once the cyst ruptured and the bleeding stopped, the pain got better.  Hopefully you'll be feeling better very soon too.

carolla's picture

carolla

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Hi Namaste - sorry to hear about all this.  Have you considered trying some accupuncture?  If you can, go to a person who is trained in traditional Chinese medicine & accupuncture, rather than somebody who's taken accupuncture as an added skill.  They may add traditional Chinese medicines to the accupuncture routine for maximum effectiveness. Might be helpful while you await the gynie appointment.

 

And take heart ... I'm 55 now and haven't had a cramp, or a period for that matter, in ages!  Yes, there really is something called post-menopausal zest!   You'll get there too.

Namaste's picture

Namaste

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Thanks Myst, Busymom, and Carolla.

BethanyK's picture

BethanyK

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((((((Namaste)))))) very sorry to hear about your escapades last night. I'll be thinking of you and praying that you can get to see the OB/Gyn soon.

Serena's picture

Serena

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Hi Namaste;

Sorry to hear about your night in ER.  If you have a change in your menstrual cycle you should always check it out.  Too many of these GPs don't have a clue about menstrual cycles and just give you a stronger pain killer.  It is like playing the lotto.  Many times it is nothing a but a cyst bursting and that is painful but sometimes it is something serious and even if it is serious if you catch it quickly you can deal with with it uneventfully.   Which is why you should get it checked out.  The symptoms are the same for both.

A couple months is awhile to wait.  But think of it this way it is only 6-8 days in period time. 

lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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Hi,

 

Sorry to hear about your severe pain but I think you should ask around about an earlier appointment.  I see you live in the Vancouver area, lots of OB/Gyns, ask your friends and make some calls.  The hospital Ob/gyn may have a waiting list but they won't all.

Tiger Lily's picture

Tiger Lily

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I don't really have much advice.  I did suffer from severe cramps (and sometimes up to 12 hours of vomiting) up until my mid 20s.  It wasn't a big deal to the family doctor but I did eventually get better help.  Seeing a specialist is a good idea. 

So sorry to hear about your night in emergency.  That's never any fun.  And your wait to see a specialist.

Just a suggestion from one who has a number of specialists for a number reasons.  And you may know this anyways.  Consider taking a little time before your appointment to write a list of symptoms and the impact on your day to day life.  Try to keep it very brief but give some details too.  Also consider bringing along a list of your questions (easier to remember). 

It may also be a good idea to bring along any medications that you are using for any reason in their prescription bottles (if that even applies).  Doctors often ask for that.  Plus any non-prescription drugs that you are trying too.

Might sound funny.  But doctors can read about 100 times faster than we can talk.  They can quickly read everything that it was important to you to share.  They can ask you questions to fill in details.  They can look through your medications and get what they need from that.  And most importantly it saves time so you can really discuss the situation in some detail. 

I've found that to be helpful with about 4 out of 5 specialists.  Some specialists have a more rigid way of doing things and then it's easier to go with the flow.  So it's just a suggestion to consider. 

Hope your appointment goes well when it comes up.  Hang in there. 

TL

Namaste's picture

Namaste

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carolla wrote:
 

And take heart ... I'm 55 now and haven't had a cramp, or a period for that matter, in ages!  Yes, there really is something called post-menopausal zest!   You'll get there too.

Eventually. I'm only 26, so what's that? Another 20 something years? *sigh* Sometimes it's such a pain (literally).

Namaste's picture

Namaste

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Thanks Bethany, Serena, Lastpointe, and Tigerlily for your advice and support.

 

In defense of my doctor, I actually think that she's very on top of things. This was my fault. I have a high tolerance for pain, so don't tend to complain unless things are really, really bad. I had mentioned a couple months ago that I was feeling slightly crampier than usual. But it wasn't that bad and I wasn't really complaining. It's only now when it's gotten so painful that I'm saying something and really pushing.

 

Lastpointe - I thought that was a very long wait for the OB/Gyn too, so I asked my friend who works at BC Women's Hospital. She gave me a few names, I called around, and now have an appointment in 2 weeks. 2 weeks sure beats 2-3 months!

 

I am thinking that it very well may just be a ruptured cyst, but am a little worried that it's something more serious.

Tiger Lily's picture

Tiger Lily

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That's great news that you found yourself an earlier appointment - not to mention resourceful :)

TL

BethanyK's picture

BethanyK

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That is great news.  I hope you get everything fixed/worked out as soon as possible.

sighsnootles's picture

sighsnootles

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late coming to this thread, sorry...

 

i had RIDICULOUS cramps all through my teen years and well into my early 20's, and as it turned out i had endometriosis so bad that my small intestine was constricted, and my ovaries and fallopian tubes were nowhere near where they should have been to start a pregnancy.  the doctors didn't believe me when i told them how much pain i was in... so bad that i routinely passed out and vomited for days as soon as the cramps started.  the only relief i ever found was taking so much extra strength pamprin that i would be unconcious for a few days.  it really made my life challenging, but it was what i had to do.

 

when i started to go through the steps to treat my infertility, a doctor decided that perhaps i might have endometriosis, and so he got me in for laproscopic laser surgery, which should have been day surgery.  however, once he got in there and discovered the magnitude of the endometriosis, he not only took 4 hours to clean up the mess that my insides were in, he took photographs to send to a medical journal, as he had NEVER seen such a severe case of endometriosis before.  i had to sign off on them before he sent them in, and holy hell, what a mess. i wound up staying in the hospital for a few days post-op as well, to recover.

 

after the surgery, i had to go through a chemically induced menopause for 3 months to rest my system, as the damage was so extensive.   

 

once my periods started up, they were totally pain free... it was amazing.  i can't describe how it felt to not have to plan my month around being unconcious for a week while i suffered through my period.  after a few periods, i was able to get pregnant.  after three kids plus another 7 years, the pain began to return, and so i was given a complete hysterectomy.  haven't had a period since. 

 

i would recommend that you be prepared for a fight and a long wait until this is resolved.  looking back at the whole experience, i can't believe how much i suffered, and how patient i was... i can tell you that if my daughters have any trouble, whoever the doctor is better be ready for me.  i'm not going to be easy to deal with!!!

Namaste's picture

Namaste

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Wow Sighs. That sounds terrible. I'm sorry to hear you had to go through that. Whatever is wrong with me, it's not nearly as bad as what you're describing.

 

I'm feeling quite a bit better today - a lot less pain and the bleeding has let up (thank God!).

Bassic's picture

Bassic

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The one step up from Ibruprofen you can get is Naproxin Sodium, it is in the same drug family.  It is prescription in Canada, but availble as over the counter as Alieve (and other brands) in the US.  You're not technically supposed to bring it across the boarder, but I have picked it up for my wife, and brother (carpal tunnel) before.  It works very well for PMS.  If you've got a drug plan get it here; if not try it on preciption to get the right dose and then have someone pick some up stateside. 

 

Anytime my wife complains of cramping I try to remind her of that it has been well documented that orgasms are an effective treatment.  Unforntunately, she is usually feeling far too much like crap to give it a try, but you know, as a sensitive new age guy I try and be there for her .

 

Currently she is seeing a homeopath.  My science journalism magazines have it in for homeoopaths (them and christians!), but it has worked very well for her.  She has mild, (pardon the details) fresh red blood periods now as opposed to the crampy slow darker ones she had before.  I'm not sure what "remedy" he prscribed, and I'm sure it is just water and channelled cosmic energy or something, but it worked well.

 

Good luck.  

 

Bassic

(ok I know I don't belong here, but I do care about everyone feeling good and having healthly reproductive bits.  I find they can be amusing.  Wish me luck on my vasectomy in 2 weeks!  I here it can be uncomfortable, but only once a lifetime not once a month.  I won't whine.)

trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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 try raspberry leaf tea.  It is a great all around 'woman's tea'.  It may not give full relief but it is full of vitamins and iron and goodies and is good for the uterus all around.

http://dkmommyspot.com/raspberry-leaf-as-a-natural-remedy-for-menstrual-cramps/

trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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 PS if you can buy it in bulk, by the 100-gram, it is FAR cheaper than the packaged, bagged stuff. You will need a tea strainer or tea ball.

trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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 http://www.totalhealthbreakthroughs.com/2008/12/the-herb-emporium-raspberry-leaf/

Here's another one. I am a big fan of the stuff personally.  

sighsnootles's picture

sighsnootles

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trishcuit wrote:

I am a big fan of the stuff personally.  

 

REALLY?!?!  wow, i never saw that one coming...  LOL!!

trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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 yah yah. haha

Shaaron's picture

Shaaron

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I might be light years behind the times but going on birth control pills completely elimiated my cramps.  And the cramps of a friend who would miss school every month and who would stand in a corned sobbing and banging the wall with her fist because of the pain.

 

Also, sometimes getting help is as simple as actually saying that you are not able to function, that you miss school or work or whatever.  For some reason, when it's put that way they sometimes tend to pay more attention.

 

Sure hope you find relief soon!

 

PS  My cramps did not get better the older I got or after giving birth ... sorry to say.  when I had a tubal ligation and didn't need birth control pills anymore, the cramps returned with a vengence.

 

sighsnootles's picture

sighsnootles

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i tried the birth control method, and they didn't work.  i was on them for over a year, and never got any relief.

Namaste's picture

Namaste

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Thanks guys. I'm pretty much feeling back to my normal self now. I'll have to wait and see what happens next month....

trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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 start drinking that tea now. It is just plain good for you.

Namaste's picture

Namaste

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Thanks Trishcuit. I will try it out. Can I buy it at the store?

Serena's picture

Serena

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Namaste it is great news that you got an earlier appointment.

 

The tea did not help me but you should try it for yourself.

pommum's picture

pommum

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I found when I was young birth control pills helped me also and I'm sure that there are many different kinds now. Some women have contraindications to hormonal therapy, but it is something to consider.

cate's picture

cate

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Hi Namaste, just wanted to let you know that I saw my doctor 2 years ago for increased pain during my cycles, plus they became irregular. In my case it was polycystic ovaries which are benign, so here's hoping your issues are caused by something similarly harmless.

Namaste's picture

Namaste

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Thanks Cate. I hope so too.

Namaste's picture

Namaste

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A couple of you have mentioned birth control pills. I was on the pill for awhile and did find that it helped quite a bit. After my last miscarriage, I chose not to go back on the pill. But the return of the painful periods does coincide with this decision. Something I'll talk to my doctor about. I'm not sure how I feel about going back on my pill though. I'm not sure if the benefits outweigh the risks at this point.

cate's picture

cate

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Talk to your doc about Mirena too. It's something that's been recommended to me after this pregnancy.

trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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Namaste wrote:

Thanks Trishcuit. I will try it out. Can I buy it at the store?

 

Any health food store will have it but if you can find a store that has it in bulk (by the 100/gr you will save a TON. The packaged tea bags are very expensive because they add up fast.  For a couple bucks you can get enough to look like you will be going behind bars for a while should the cops see it. 

As I said it may or may hot help your extreme cramps but it is good for you all in all for the iron content ect. A superb women's tea.

trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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Namaste wrote:

Thanks Trishcuit. I will try it out. Can I buy it at the store?

 

Any health food store will have it but if you can find a store that has it in bulk (by the 100/gr)  you will save a TON.  The cost of packaged tea bags add up fast, at $5 for 20 or so.  For a couple bucks in bulk you can get enough to look like you will be going behind bars for a while should the cops see it. ( it seriously looks like a bag of homegrown)

As I said it may or may not help your extreme cramps but it is good for you all in all for the iron content ect. A superb women's tea.

trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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 oops double post.

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