What you can eat during your period to help with pains

It's not all painkillers and hot water bottles.
Written by
Team Kin
Reviewed by
Last updated on
June 4, 2024
min read
Top Foods You Can Eat To Help With Period Pains | Kin Fertility
Jump to:
Arrow Down

Primary dysmenorrhea — otherwise known as menstrual pain — is super common. It affects around 80% of women worldwide, with 5-10% experiencing severe symptoms that affect their daily lives [1].

Period pain happens when the muscles and blood vessels in the uterus contract to help expel the uterine lining.

When this happens, a lot of us turn to the usual combo: painkillers and a hot water bottle.

But there are a lot of benefits in making the right diet choices to help ease the cramps. Read as we explain what foods help period cramps, what foods may worsen your symptoms and what else you can do for pain relief.

Fair warning: This isn’t going to be a list of things you’re likely gonna be craving, but it is a list of foods that might help take the edge off your cramps. Worth it.

What foods help relieve cramps?

When you're on your period, it's a good idea to follow an anti-inflammatory diet full of healthy foods like:

Dark chocolate

Okay, this one is manageable if you’re a dark choccie lover.

Rich in both magnesium and iron — it’s great for replenishing your natural stores of these vitamins which can dip during your period.

Studies have shown that magnesium reduces the severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms (PMS) [2]. What’s more, people who have magnesium deficiencies are more likely to suffer severe PMS symptoms.

Leafy green vegetables

With reduced iron levels during your period, it’s important to increase your intake of iron-rich foods.

You can combat the usual symptoms of low iron like fatigue, bodily pain, aches, and dizziness, with a good dose of leafy greens.

Vegetables like spinach and kale boost your iron levels. Women with heavy flows are far more likely to have low iron levels during their period, so get some greens into ya!


Turmeric comes with anti-inflammatory benefits.

Its main active ingredient is curcumin which has been found to reduce the severity of PMS symptoms by nearly 60%, particularly those centred around your stomach such as bloating and cramping [3].


The best natural anti-inflammatories mother nature provides. Try putting some fresh ginger in your tea to tell your tummy and cramps to calm the F down.


Fish has a lot going for it: iron, protein, and the all-important omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the intensity of period pain.

Results from one study found that women who took fish oil were able to reduce the amount of ibuprofen they needed to combat period pain by increasing their intake of omega-3 [4].

What about drinks?

If you're looking for something to sip on while on your period, these are great options:

Peppermint tea

Peppermint tea has long been considered a soothing balm, but studies have also found that it can make your PMS symptoms more manageable [5].

Not only can it help ease cramps, but it can reduce bloating and other gastro symptoms contributing to nausea and diarrhoea (aka period poops).

Chamomile tea

Although more research is needed on this one, chamomile contains glycine and hippurate, two compounds said to help relieve muscle spasms.

Chamomile also promotes better sleep, so it might be helpful if you find it hard to rest because of your menstrual symptoms.

Green juice or smoothie

We mentioned before that eating leafy greens during your period will help ensure you're consuming enough iron. But why not make things a bit more exciting and turn those greens into a refreshing drink?

You can even add turmeric and ginger for extra anti-inflammatory benefits.

Water, lots of water

Water. Your body can’t get enough of it!

Drinking enough water can actually help prevent water retention and make you feel far less like a bloated whale.

Based on Australian Government recommendations, women should be aiming for around 2.1 litres per day [6]. Just keep in mind that these figures are based on average weight in adult women and your needs could be different.

So how do you know if you’re drinking enough water?

Health experts explain dizziness, dry mouth and headaches are some ways your body is telling you it needs more water [7]. You should be going to the bathroom every 3-4 hours and the colour of your pee should be relatively pale.

Any foods you should avoid?

Certain foods can make your symptoms worse and, we'll be honest, a lot of them are exactly the foods you crave during that time of the month.

We'll start by saying that there's nothing wrong with giving in to your cravings every now and then. Honestly, you deserve that bowl of ice cream.

Having said that, it's a good idea to minimise your consumption of inflammatory foods like red meat, saturated fats, and fried foods. Try, as well, to avoid eating processed foods, as well as any foods that may cause or worsen bloating.

This may also be a good time to take a mini break from alcohol, as it can exacerbate your symptoms [8].

Can supplements help reduce menstrual pain?

Certain dietary supplements can be a helpful addition when treating period pain.

In fact, Kin's Hormone Harmony was specifically created to regular your menstrual cycle, reduce painful menstrual symptoms and lower irritability, thanks to a curated blend of natural ingredients based on traditional Western Herbal Medicine (WMH) use.

This includes:

  • Peony to balance out your hormones
  • Vitamin B6 to reduce mood swings
  • Gymnema to manage sugar cravings
  • Magnesium to relax your muscles
  • Cramp bark to alleviate menstrual cramps

Other ways to reduce menstrual cramps

There are medical and non-medical ways to ease premenstrual symptoms. Let's go through the non-medical ones first:

  • Use hot water bottles to increase blood flow and relax the muscles
  • Do some cardio, like brisk walking, swimming, cycling or running
  • Minimise your stress levels
  • Try acupuncture

As for the medical treatment options, these include over-the-counter painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs and hormonal contraceptives, like the pill or hormonal IUD.

Tackling period pain from all angles can be helpful and while this is by no means an exhaustive list, it will help you get started. Begin by adding some of these into your diet and keep an eye on what your symptoms are like when the next wave of pain rolls around.

All of the tools you need to take your reproductive health into your own hands.