The trendy dance and fitness craze Zumba could relieve millions of women from the agony of period pain, research suggests.
A study found a one-hour class of the Latin-inspired workout once a week reduces the discomfort of menstrual cramps.
Period pain, or primary dysmenorrhea, affects at least half of menstruating women and is thought to be caused by an influx of chemicals called prostaglandins.
Prostaglandins cause blood vessels in the uterus to constrict, which prevents oxygen reaching the womb's tissue, triggering pain.
Exercise in general is thought to 'flush out' these chemicals, boosting the uterus' supply of oxygen-rich blood.
Zumba, which counts Cher among its legion of fans, may be particularly appealing due to it being 'fashionable, affordable and less formal' than other exercises classes, the researchers claim.
A study found a one-hour class of the Latin-inspired workout once a week reduces the discomfort of menstrual cramps (stock)
The research was carried out by Cairo University in Egypt and led by Dr Ahmed Samy, of the department of obstetrics and gynecology.
Primary dysmenorrhea is defined as menstrual cramps that occur immediately before or during menstrual bleeding, with no signs of ill health in the woman's pelvis, the researchers wrote in the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.
Younger women are most at risk of the condition, which can also cause mood swings, diarrhoea and even vomiting.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin, are recommended as the go-to treatment, followed by the Pill.
But research suggests a quarter of women refuse to take these treatments, and are instead increasingly opting for non-pharmacological relief, such as yoga, meditation and massage.
With past studies suggesting Zumba helps women lose weight and socialise, the researchers set out to uncover whether it could also relieve menstrual discomfort.
They analysed 98 women, aged 18-to-25, who had been diagnosed with primary dysmenorrhea.
Period pain, or primary dysmenorrhea, affects at least half of menstruating women and is thought to be caused by an influx of chemicals called prostaglandins (stock)
Public Health England's research has revealed nearly half of women – 48 per cent – say they struggle with menstrual issues such as heavy or irregular periods. So when should you be concerned about your period?
Period pain is common and most women experience it at some time in their life.
The pain is usually felt as cramps in