Period Pain Caused By A Medical Condition
Less commonly, period pain can be caused by an underlying medical condition.
Period pain linked to an underlying medical condition tends to affect older women. Women aged 30 to 45 are most commonly affected.
Medical conditions that can cause period pain include:
- endometriosis where cells that normally line the womb grow in other places, such as in the fallopian tubes and ovaries these cells can cause intense pain when they shed
- fibroids non-cancerous tumours that can grow in or around the womb and can make your periods heavy and painful
- pelvic inflammatory disease where your womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries become infected with bacteria, causing them to become severely inflamed
- adenomyosis where the tissue that normally lines the womb starts to grow within the muscular womb wall, making your periods particularly painful
Some Herbal Tea Varieties Can Calm Cramping
Certain teas may help relieve menstrual cramps, says Sonya Angelone, a registered dietitian nutritionist in the San Francisco Bay area.
Research on herbal teas for menstrual pain relief is scarce, but teas have been used by menstruating women in numerous cultures for centuries.
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Improving Your Diet May Alleviate Period Cramps
Start by swapping out less healthy fats like the saturated fats found in animal products for healthier ones like unsaturated fats found in olive oil, suggests the American Heart Association. Overall, try to make the fats you eat better quality, such as those found in fish or nuts, the organization suggests. Examples of meals not overly reliant on fats can be found in the healthy eating plate guide from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
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Q: Does Taking High Doses Cause Side Effects
A: High doses of ibuprofen can result in kidney damage, edema or stomach ulcers. If youre on blood thinners, it could increase your risk of bleeding.
But most young, healthy women should have no significant problems from doing high doses once in a while .
Before trying any new medication or taking a higher-than-prescribed dose, however, be sure to talk to your doctor about your best options and the potential side effects.
Can Bad Period Cramps Be A Sign Of Something Else
Period cramps usually dont signify that something is wrong with your health. But in some cases they can be a symptom of a medical condition:
- Endometriosis This disorder occurs when tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus grows outside your uterus, often adhering to your bladder, ovaries, or even your bowels.
- Uterine Fibroids These are noncancerous growths that emerge inside the uterine walls. They can range in size from one tiny speck to several bulky masses.
- Adenomyosis Tissue that normally lines the uterus begins to grow inside the organs muscle wall.
Pain from these conditions may seem like period pain, but it typically lasts longer and can be more severe than your usual menstrual cramps.
If you experience this type of pain, its important to see your doctor, Thielen says.
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What Causes Period Pain
One Factor Is More Pain Producing Chemicals in your Body
- During your menstrual cycle, the levels of many natural chemicals in your body, like prostaglandins, may increase.
Less Blood Flow and Increased Nerve Sensitivity
- Normally, prostaglandins cause your blood vessels to shrink and cause your uterus to contract. When the muscle loses its oxygen supply, even for a brief time, it causes pain.
- There are also a lot of nerves naturally in the uterus and increased levels of prostaglandins can cause those normal nerves to become more sensitive.
Cramps, Pains and Headaches
- Menstrual cramps are pain in the lower abdominal midline that typically begins with menstrual bleeding and gradually lessens over the next 2 to 3 days. This pain can range from dull to throbbing and can radiate to other parts of the body, like your lower back.
- Menstrual headaches may seem like an odd reaction to something thats happening in your lower abdomen, but there is a logical explanation. The hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle can also affect headache-related chemicals in the brain. When hormone levels drop , it can trigger a headache.
Taking Ibuprofen For Menstrual Cramps
Its that time of the month again, your period cramps have been acting up when youre at an important meeting at work, exercising at the gym, and going out to dinner with friends. Thankfully, as soon as you pop an Ibuprofenor twoor three, you feel better and are able to do the things you love. The minute you forget to take one, youre weighed down by the fatigue and pain that comes with your monthly cycle.
Although, have you ever stopped and thought about how the short and long-term effects of ibuprofen could be affecting your health? Even though ibuprofen is considered a relatively safe medication you can use to manage painful periods, every drug has a few side effects you should be aware of.
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Try Some Yoga Poses To Ease Menstrual Pain
Whether it’s the stretching of your muscles or the relaxing effect of the poses, a regular yoga practice can indeed help your cramps.
When 20 undergraduate students did an hour-long yoga program once a week for three months, they had less menstrual cramping and period distress than 20 women who didnt, according to researchers for a study published in September 2016 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
The Journal of Physiotherapy review that sanctioned heating pads also found benefits for yoga.
You can practice during your period or between them, but some instructors advise women against doing inverted poses in the midst of menstruation, so as not interfere with your natural flow.
There Is A Knowledge Gap When It Comes To Information On Periods
Wood, who was stunned to see her tweet go viral, told Insider she was inundated with responses from men trolling her , women saying they feel ashamed to discuss their periods, and doctor friends admitting they didn’t know that NSAIDs could reduce menstrual flow.
“Periods are treated like it’s an illness we all have, and we’re all ashamed to talk about it even though it’s something everyone with a uterus goes through,” Wood said.
Dr. Jennifer Gunter, author of The Vagina Bible and a lecture called Why can’t we talk about periods, told Insider she’s not surprised.
Gunter learned about this method decades ago when, as a medical resident, she saw it listed in guidelines for heavy periods, which, research recently found, can cause cramps as painful as having a heart attack.
“I know there is a knowledge gap getting this information to patients,” Gunter told Insider. Periods are still one of the world’s biggest taboos, and many women suffer because of it. “Some providers as well as patients don’t believe an over the counter medication could help for such a serious issue,” she added.
“The lack of women in medicine meant the medical canon about menstruation was first created by literally the least informed people: those who had never had a period,” Gunter wrote in a column for The New York Times.
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How Do I Know If My Menstrual Cramps Are Normal
Menstrual cramps feel a little different to every woman. They can feel like a constant dull ache, occasional shooting pains or anything in between. Typically, women feel cramps in the lower stomach but they can also affect the groin, thighs and lower back.
Each woman experiences unique menstruation symptoms and theres no true normal. Some women might have cramps during every period. Some might notice that their cramps lessen with age. Others might never experience period cramps. But up to 20 percent of women experience painful cramps, or whats known medically as dysmenorrhea, making it difficult to enjoy their daily activities. Still, many women are afraid to speak to their doctor about their cramps.
Theres no reason to stay quiet about your cramps. Our OB-GYNs are here to listen to your concerns without judgement and help find a way to make your periods as painless as possible.
If youre not sure whether medical treatment is needed to help with your cramps, just ask us! During your next appointment, talk to your doctor about:
- The level of pain cramps cause you
- How long your cramps last
- The average length of your cycle
- How much you bleed during your period
- Other things you may have noticed, like spotting or pain outside your period
Birth Control Pills May Lessen Painful Cramping Too
While not exactly a home remedy, birth control pills and hormonal intrauterine devices are potential tools in your anticramping arsenal and should not be overlooked, Thielen says.
Consider cramp relief a benefit to some types of contraception. Many women find relief from painful cramps when they start the pill, Thielen says. Hormonal birth control typically lessens the amount of bleeding, and less bleeding can translate into fewer cramps, she says.
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Birth Control For Period Cramps
When you have period cramps you just can’t seem to relieve with the methods mentioned above, your doctor may prescribe birth control, which provides your body with hormones that may reduce your menstrual cramping. Talk to your doctor about your birth control options. They include birth control pills, injections, a patch, or an intrauterine device. Such a wide array of birth control options are available that there should be something that will work for your lifestyle and individual needs. Just make sure to let your doctor know youre hoping to find a birth control option that will provide relief from your menstrual cramping.
How To Take Ibuprofen
Make sure you take ibuprofen as directed on the label or leaflet, or as instructed by a health professional.
How much you can take depends on your age, the type of ibuprofen you’re taking and how strong it is. For example:
- adults can usually take 1 or 2 tablets every 4 to 6 hours, but shouldn’t take more than 1,200mg tablets in the space of 24 hours
- children under 16 may need to take a lower dose, depending on their age check the packet or leaflet, or ask a pharmacist or doctor for advice
The painkilling effect of ibuprofen begins soon after a dose is taken, but the anti-inflammatory effect can sometimes take up to 3 weeks to get the best results.
Ibuprofen shouldn’t be used to treat conditions that are mainly related to inflammation.
Don’t take more than the recommended dose if it isn’t relieving your symptoms.
Adults can take paracetamol at the same time if necessary, but this isn’t recommended for children.
Contact your GP or phone the NHS 24 111 service if your symptoms get worse or last more than 3 days despite taking ibuprofen.
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Massage Your Tummy With Essential Oils
Oils that seem to be most effective at reducing period cramps, due to their ability to boost circulation, include:
You can find essential oils online, or at your local health food store. Some drugstores may sell them, too.
Before using essential oils, youll want to mix them with a carrier oil, like coconut oil or jojoba oil. Carrier oils work by safely carrying the essential oil into your skin, and helping to spread the oil over a large area.
Once your oil mixture is ready to use, rub a few drops between your hands and then give your tummy a gentle massage.
Experts say massaging in a circular motion for just five minutes a day before and during your period may help lessen cramps and boost circulation in your abdomen.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, OTC pain relievers like ibuprofen , naproxen , and aspirin are effective treatments for period cramps.
These medications work best if theyre taken at the first sign of cramps or pain.
You can find ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin, at any drugstore. Be sure to take only as directed, and talk to your doctor first if you have a history of heart, liver, or kidney problems, or if you have asthma, ulcers, or bleeding disorders.
recent study , low-to-medium intensity aerobic exercise can help reduce pain caused by period cramps.
What Causes Period Cramps And Pain
Painful period cramps, also called primary dysmenorrhea, happens when natural chemicals called prostaglandins rise and cause the lining of the uterus to contract, leading to pain. Secondary dysmenorrhea is period pain resulting from a condition or disease in the reproductive organs. Talk with your doctor if you feel that an underlying condition may be causing your cramps.
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Living With Period Pain
To help you manage period pain in the longer term, your doctor might prescribe the combined oral contraceptive pill or another hormonal form of contraception such as a vaginal ring, implant or a hormone-releasing intra-uterine device . These reduce the amount of prostaglandins released during your period and make your periods lighter.
You could also consider taking nutritional supplements such as magnesium, vitamin B1 , vitamin E, pyridoxine or fish oil.
Quitting smoking and reducing the amount of alcohol you drink may reduce period pain.
It is a good idea to keep a diary of your pain, bleeding and any other symptoms to show your doctor. This will help them diagnose whether there is an underlying medical cause for your period pain.
How To Relieve Period Cramps And Pain
Period pains can range from mild to severe, but they dont need to impede your lifestyle. Consider these period pain management tips to help find relief from period cramps. Be sure to talk to your healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns.
- Exercise Exercises may help with the symptoms of dysmenorrhea. Consider adding activities like yoga, walking, swimming, or strength training to your day. Talk to your healthcare professional before starting or changing any exercise regimen.
- Use a Heating Pad In general, localized heat helps muscles relax and increases blood flow to the tissues, which may reduce the severity of cramps.
- Relax with Yoga Put stress to rest with meditation and yoga. These relaxation techniques may help with period pain. Talk to your healthcare professional before starting or changing any exercise regimen.
- Try an OTC Pain Reliever Ibuprofen, found in an OTC pain reliever such as MOTRIN®, works to reduce the production of prostaglandins. This can help temporarily relieve minor aches and pains due to menstrual cramps.
Be sure to always read and follow the product label of the OTC pain reliever and talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
Again, while some period pain is common, sometimes painful cramps are a sign of a more serious medical condition. Be sure to contact your doctor if youre concerned, or if symptoms suddenly get worse.
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