Dysmenorrhea is one of the most common conditions experienced by women during menstruation. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis accounting for more than 20,000 women across 37 studies suggested that the prevalence of pain symptoms associated menstrual cramps is as high as 70%, accounting for economic, cultural, national, and educational factors. Although most treatment commonly focuses on pain relief with medication, self-medication strategies for menstrual cramps vary widely, commonly with unintended effects from misuse of self-medications. Whereas traditional herbal preparations, nutritional supplements, and other home remedies are used to address pain and discomfort symptoms, self-regulation strategies are nonmedication, nonsubstance use interventions to prevent and reduce discomfort. This article reports observations of self-regulation strategies used as part of a university class. In self-reported homework practice, 32 college women tried a set of self-regulation techniques that included holistic health techniques of (a) raising awareness of stress, (b) dynamic relaxation, and (c) slow diaphragmatic breathing with warming imagery. Students were asked to report anonymously on a variety of symptoms, which included menstrual cramps. In addition to any treatment as usual (TAU) strategies already being used (e.g., medications or other treatments), 91% (20 of 22 women) who reported menstrual cramps along with any other symptoms also reported a decrease in dysmenorrhea symptoms when they practiced the self-regulation and diaphragmatic breathing techniques. Discussed are possible mechanisms why a self-regulation approach could reduce discomfort in addition to TAU. In conclusion, an education approach that includes holistic health techniques should be taught to students, including women who may be relying on pain-reducing medications to reduce or prevent discomfort from menstrual cramps.

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