I discovered as a teenager that nothing eases a menstrual cramp like a spot of self-pleasuring. Practised skilfully, month after month, one learns to turn the volume of the pain down and switch the tempo of the pleasure on to cruise control mode ~ not too fast or too slow. This way you can maintain a steady state of suspended, hovering pleasure whilst your blood flow builds up to warp speed and the cramps run their course. Then when you finally allow yourself to reach the finish line of orgasm, you can drift off to sleep and wake up feeling a whole lot better.
My first piece of advice to anyone suffering from period pains would be to allow the blood to flow out of their vulva onto a washable pad, rather than using a tampon or even cup or sponge.
My second would be to indulge in a self-pleasuring, ‘pampering your pussy’, ‘hitchhiking south’ or even ‘parting the red sea’. I love these witty self-pleasuring idioms! Please write in if you have any more to offer. We need to lap all the sex-positive language up that we can!
I am no scientist, but with a little Internet research, it seems clear that there are several physical and bio-chemical scientific reasons why orgasms relieve period pains:
1. We know that menstrual cramps are caused by the build-up of prostaglandins in the womb. When we orgasm, our vagina, cervix, uterus and anus all experience a series of muscular contractions, which can help to disperse the prostaglandins and relax a cramping womb on a bodily level.
2. The neurochemicals involved in the process also play a major role in switching on our ‘pleasure centre’ in our brains, which makes our emotions and thoughts temporarily suspend, hence making the period pains less of an issue. The key players here are prolactin, oxytocin and dopamine. We know that both oxytocin and prolactin are vital birthing hormones, which help us to birth, bond and breastfeed babies. They also flood our brains as we orgasm, filling us with a sense of well-being. Dopamine fills us with feelings of pleasure.
3. Post-orgasm, we release endorphins into the blood stream. These powerful substances are similar to morphine and relieve pain as well as stress, helping to dispel those cramps.
Anecdotally, bushwhacking doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s certainly worth a good crack before you reach for the painkillers. Discuss it with your friends and see what they say. Even if it doesn’t help you, it may help your friend, neighbour, sister or daughter. Another good reason to pop a vibrator in your daughter’s menarche box.
Photograph by Tsuacctnt