Music as an Antidote Against Period Cramps
When speaking about sports and the period we mentioned the importance of controlling our own mind to reach consistency and discipline. On this complex path towards a connexion with oneself and harmony with one’s body, music can appear as a great ally to bear with pain, period cramps and other inevitable symptoms our period causes. Isn’t it true that certain songs affect us in a positive way, causing a million feelings in only a few minutes?So, let’s use the incredible power of music to our benefit.
It is well known that listening to music can significantly improve our feeling of well being.. But this is also supported by science. There is an investigation area that is focused on studying how music can help by decreasing pain and its negative effects. It has already been proved that music-therapy can reduce levels of pain intensity, anxiety, fear, depression and blood pressure.
This effectiveness of music is fundamented on how the nervous system impulses are affected by our thinking processes and our emotions. Also, if we happen to have a strong connection with the music piece we’re listening to, this one will have higher positive effects on pain perception and tolerance, increasing our feelings of suffering control.
- How does this benefit you, Aura reader?
We now know that music-therapy has as a purpose to promote or restore the health of people and to meet physical, emotional, mental, social and cognitive needs. If we take into account that its benefits are on the physical level, since it helps maintain articulations mobility and increases muscle strength, but also on the mental level, promoting relaxation, reducing agitation and anxiety levels, the result is that a therapy with music can reinforce identity and self-esteem, relieve anxiety and depression, and divert attention from the pain and the stimuli that cause stress. Sounds like the magic formula to help us on our somewhat complicated period days, right?
Well let’s get to it then. On such an interesting topic as the one we’re diving in this week, we’ve been lucky enough to count on Fran Pitzalis, an Instagram influencer and Aura friend that has become interested in these theories and wanted to share with us her favourite songs for her period days. Listen to all of them on this Spotify playlist we have created, and share yours with us too!
Also, if you are one of those that prefer to go crazy on her period days and what you want is to dance and sing out loud, we have another brand new playlist full of songs with strength, by women with character. Listen to them, yell out their lyrics and add yours as well so we can enjoy them too!
- Scientific Studies on the issue:
The magazine Journal of Music Therapy published a study made by investigators at Ewha Womans University of Seoul (South Korea). The goal was to test if music had any effect on pain intensity, anxiety and the amount of medicine needed to relieve them. With a total of 9,147 participants between 1995 and 2014, those who experienced music therapy rated the intensity of their pain approximately one point less on a scale of 1 to 10, compared to patients who did not receive music. Also, certain analysis found a significant decrease in the use of analgesics, and some patients had other senses stimulated as well, other than those recepting pain, since the music was able to relieve their stress and anxiety. Heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rate were also lower.
These results are complemented by another study coming from Sweden in 2009 that proved that children exposed to a therapy with music after a minor surgery required less amount of morphine, in comparison with those who didn’t count on this treatment.
There is another study, with similar conclusions to the previous ones and that has been published on the specialised magazine Pediatric Surgery International, that was conducted by Dr. Santhanam Suresh, Anaesthesiology and Pediatric Professor at Northwestern University, USA. The analysed subjects were about 60 children between 9 and 14 years old that were suffering post-surgery pain. “Distraction offers a real pain relief”, says Dr. Suresh. “Through music, we try to trick our brain somehow. We try to redirect mental channels towards something else”, he adds.
Even if music-therapy application is well known on children with special needs, geriatry and psychiatry, its use in the medical area has increased worldwide, and currently there are also premature babies, elder people and adults with a variety of diagnoses receiving music-therapy. It is also quite obvious to see how its use can be beneficial for women suffering pain, cramps or negative symptoms related to their period.
Music-therapy has been part of some Spanish hospitals for some time now, helping to humanise the hospital life for both patients and family members, and also being able to reduce pain for patients in many cases or even reduce hospitalisation stays. This is at least how Àngels, Núria and Dul, three music-therapists of Associació Ressò de Musicoteràpia, perceive it. For more than a decade they have been working on Project Xarxa of Music-therapy at children’s hospital Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona. A study made with 120 hospitalised children with long-term illnesses proved that music reduces their perception of pain and anxiety in 80% of the cases. Not only that, it also improves their ability to communicate and express their feelings. Thanks to the increase of oxygen saturation and the decrease of heart rate, they stabilise, relax and breathe better. Music-therapy is also quite effective on patients with multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, chronic pain and fibromyalgia.
From flamenco artists that inspire patients to start clapping, to violinists, cellists that manage to relax an anxious patient suffering hypertension or a singer helping newborns in ICU breastfeed for the first time.
All these musicians and many more have been part of Música en Vena, an association from Madrid founded by Virginia Castelló that has been sending opera, jazz, pop or flamenco singers and instrumentalists to 15 different hospitals in Madrid for four years. As part of this association program, Shakukachi flute master Rodrigo Rodríguez has been able to play the beautiful and enigmatic music that comes from this millenary instrument at Hospital 12 de Octubre in Madrid. Interestingly enough, the use of these pentatonic scales when playing this instrument, commonly associated with blues or rock, is historically related in Asia to Buddhism and Shintoism, particularly to apotropaic or purifying goals.
“There are studies that prove that music produces beneficial effects. It calms hypertension, reduces anxiety, decreases the need for sedation, contributes to the stabilisation of physiological parameters and helps controlling pain and uncomfortness of patients. We have been using it for about a year and now we are planning on investigating it from a scientific perspective”, says the Head of Intensive Medicine at Hospital 12 de Octubre of Madrid.