Cranberry juice isn't likely to lessen menstrual cramps. The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in cranberries — and its juice, for that matter — do nothing to combat the source of the pain. Other methods are often necessary to relieve any discomfort associated with menstruation. Talk to a doctor to determine the best approach to care, especially when cramping is severe.
While cranberries are rich in antioxidants, these nutrients can't counteract the cause of menstrual cramps. During menstruation, prostaglandins are released into the body. These hormone-like substances stimulate uterine contractions that help shed the lining of the uterus. The more prostaglandins your body produces, the more severe your cramps become. Cranberry juice doesn't affect the levels of prostaglandins in your body.
The confusion likely lies in cranberry juice's use for urinary tract infections. The antioxidants in cranberry juice reduce the amount of bacteria in your bladder, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. This is especially beneficial for women who suffer from recurrent urinary tract infections, but it is not helpful in reducing the signs and symptoms associated with menstruation.
Instead of self-prescribing cranberry juice to reduce menstrual cramps, look for other ways proven to bring about relief. The National Institutes of Health suggest exercise. Exercise can help to relieve stress, which is known to worsen symptoms of menstruation such as cramps. You may also notice an improvement by taking a hot bath, placing a heating pad over the abdomen or massaging the lower abdominal wall. Slight dietary changes, such as limiting sodium, sugar and caffeine as well as increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, may prove beneficial as well. If self-care measures fail to bring about relief, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication can often lessen your discomfort.
If menstrual cramps are severe or occur at times other than menstruation, talk to a doctor. The pain could be an indication of an underlying condition, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts or sexually transmitted diseases, among other potential disorders. Proper diagnosis is not only crucial to lessen the pain, but to prescribe the appropriate form of treatment.