Is Midol the best pain relief for cramps?

Some of us have had our periods for decades, but are still mystified about what’s going on down there and why. In the HelloGiggles series “Period Talk,” we ask gynecologists our biggest questions about all things period-related and finally get the answers to what is really going on . . . because everyone should be up-to-date on that time of the month! Our next question is about that whether the over-the-counter drug Midol helps at all when you’ve got major period cramps. 

Does Midol actually work or is there better pain relief for cramps?

“Take some Midol.” Whether it’s a (BONKERS sexist) comment made to hush a woman, or whether it’s honest and genuine advice from a loved one when you’re suffering from cramps, most everyone has heard this phrase uttered at one time.

But does Midol actually work to get rid of period pain? Some swear by it, while others find that it does nothing to help their symptoms during that time of the month. Board-certified gynecologist Dr. Felice Gersh of Integrative Medical Group of Irvine in California actually does not recommend using Midol due to its ingredients, including antihistamines, caffeine, and acetaminophen. Instead, Dr. Gersh primarily recommended making lifestyle changes to prevent cramps in the first place.

“The symptoms we have during our periods can be a sign of deeper issues, including deficiencies in key nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium and antioxidants,” Dr. Gersh explained. “[You] can alleviate these symptoms without a birth control pill through lifestyle changes including a healthy diet, adequate sleep and nutritional supplementation, in addition to stress reduction and exercise.”


However, what if you’re suffering from wicked cramps and you really want pain relief? After all, a healthy diet isn’t exactly something that will fix pain on the spot. Luckily, there are over-the-counter meds that work considerably better than Midol, according to Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak OB-GYN Mark Werner, M.D. He advised using “anti-inflammatories like Advil and Aleve, in prescribed dosages” — meaning, you need to get them from a pharmacy.

That said, if you’re suffering from seriously intense cramps, visit your doctor to find out what’s going on. Many people experience cramps but crippling pain is not normal and if period pain is majorly affecting your life, don’t let anyone tell you to just pop a Midol or Advil — get a professional opinion, stat.

Read more from the HelloGiggles series “Period Talk”:

This is the best birth control to manage cramps

This is why your boobs get so sore before your period

The surprising reason you get constipated during your period

This is what happens to your uterine lining if you have an IUD

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