Period Pain: Could It Be Endometriosis
No woman looks forward to that time of the month. Most of us deal with mood swings, bloating and cramps, which are never fun. But women with endometriosis often find getting a period particularly unbearable. For them, an average period is anything but average, with debilitating cramps.
During a typical menstrual cycle, the lining inside your uterus the endometrium builds up and is then shed. And, well, you know what happens then. In women with endometriosis, that lining grows outside the uterus, usually around the ovaries or beneath the uterus in an area called the posterior cul-de-sac. As it builds up and breaks down, it causes small amounts of bleeding inside the pelvis. This leads to pain, inflammation, swelling and scarring.
If you think you might have endometriosis, know that you arent alone. The condition affects hundreds of thousands of women every year. Even Lena Dunham, star of the television show Girls, brought widespread attention to this condition by talking about her own diagnosis and subsequent surgeries to correct it.
When Should I Call The Doctor
If your PMS is severe, your doctor can help with treatments, including medicine. Call the doctor if you:
- don’t feel better after trying home treatments
- feel very sad or hopeless
- ever think about hurting or killing yourself
- can’t do your usual activities because of your PMS symptoms
- have PMS symptoms that don’t go away after the first few days of your period
Causes Of Period Pain
Period pain happens when the muscular wall of the womb tightens . Mild contractions continually occur in your womb, but they’re usually so mild that most women cannot feel them.
During your period, the wall of the womb starts to contract more vigorously to help the womb lining shed as part of your period.
When the wall of the womb contracts, it compresses the blood vessels lining your womb. This temporarily cuts off the blood supply and oxygen supply to your womb. Without oxygen, the tissues in your womb release chemicals that trigger pain.
While your body is releasing these pain-triggering chemicals, it’s also producing other chemicals called prostaglandins. These encourage the womb muscles to contract more, further increasing the level of pain.
It’s not known why some women have more period pain than others. It may be that some women have a build-up of prostaglandins, which means they experience stronger contractions.
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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.
How Do I Find Out What Helps Me
Good question! With so many different symptoms, intensities and durations of periods, plus the fact that everyone experiences different levels of pain, not all of the above advice will work for you. Figuring out your own personal cycle is the key to discovering what your body responds to long term, and the best way to do this is often a period tracker or period diary.
Start noting down your symptoms each day to find out when your cramps are at their worst, then implement some of the changes above and record the ones that seem to be working, as well as those that dont. Eventually you will start to see patterns emerge, and when you find a solution that positively affects your cramps, you can proactively use this as a method of pain management going forward.
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When Period Pain Isn’t Normal
Menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome are not the same thing. PMS symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, bloating, and fatigue appear approximately a week before menses begins. After your period starts, PMS symptoms usually improve dramatically.
PMS symptoms fade after a menstrual period begins, but new pain may emerge in the form of menstrual cramps.
The lining of the uterus releases prostaglandins that make contractions more powerful and painful, especially during the first few days of the menstrual cycle. For many, this discomfort is simply a nuisance, but sometimes it’s indicative of more than just “normal” period pain.
There are two types of menstrual pain:
- Primary dysmenorrhea: This type of pain occurs around the time of a first period and usually doesn’t indicate a medical condition.
- Secondary dysmenorrhea: Pain that develops some time after a person first begins menstruating it can even begin after a long history of normal periods. It usually indicates the presence of conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease .
If period pain is not relieved with anti-inflammatory medication or is so severe that it interferes with going to school, working, or socializing, there could be an underlying condition that needs treatment.
In this case, it’s best to call a doctor or other healthcare professional. If your tween or teen is the one experiencing menstrual pain, you can contact either a gynecologist or your child’s pediatrician .
How To Stop Period Cramps At School: 10 Methods That Work Best
A child is very sensitive during early period days and in such conditions do not want to step out of the comfort zone. At school too, sitting and standing several times, physical activities, and improper hygiene services are a concern for most of them.
To top it all, period cramps often cause a lot of distraction and trouble the little girls with nobody to share the feeling with. Since the body undergoes so many changes, it is natural for a girl to be a little under-confident.
As a parent/guardian, it is necessary for us to train our children to deal with such situations boldly and correctly.
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How Can You Relieve Mild Menstrual Cramps
To relieve mild menstrual cramps:
- For the best relief, take ibuprofen as soon as bleeding or cramping starts. Ibuprofen belongs to a class of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . They reduce the output of prostaglandins. If you cant take NSAIDs, you can take another pain reliever like acetaminophen.
- Place a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower back or abdomen.
- Rest when needed.
- Avoid foods that contain caffeine.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Massage your lower back and abdomen.
Women who exercise regularly often have less menstrual pain. To help prevent cramps, make exercise a part of your weekly routine.
If these steps dont relieve pain, your healthcare provider can order medications for you, including ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory medication in a higher dose that is available over the counter. Your healthcare provider might also suggest oral contraceptives since women who take oral contraceptives tend to have less menstrual pain.
If testing shows that you have secondary dysmenorrhea, your provider will discuss treatments of the condition causing the pain. This might mean oral contraceptives, other types of medications, or surgery.
How To Tell If Your Period Cramping Is Normal
Each girl or woman typically experiences a similar level of cramps from one month to the next, says Jackie Thielen, MD, an internist and womens health specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. For some women, monthly pain is minor. For others, it can be quite debilitating.
The main question doctors ask when determining whether your cramps are normal is Are they normal for you? Dr. Thielen says.
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What Is Are Menstrual Cramps
Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for pain with your period or menstrual cramps. There are two types of dysmenorrhea: primary and secondary.
Primary dysmenorrhea is the name for common menstrual cramps that come back over and over again and arent due to other diseases. Pain usually begins one or two days before you get your period or when bleeding actual starts. You may feel pain ranging from mild to severe in the lower abdomen, back or thighs.
Pain can typically last 12 to 72 hours, and you might have other symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and even diarrhea. Common menstrual cramps may become less painful as you get older and may stop entirely if you have a baby.
If you have painful periods because of a disorder or an infection in your female reproductive organs, it is called secondary dysmenorrhea. Pain from secondary dysmenorrhea usually begins earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasts longer than common menstrual cramps. You usually dont have nausea, vomiting, fatigue or diarrhea.
How Can You Tell If The Pain Of Your Menstrual Cramps Is Normal
If you have severe or unusual menstrual cramps or cramps that last for more than two or three days, contact your healthcare provider. Both primary and secondary menstrual cramps can be treated, so it’s important to get checked.
First, you will be asked to describe your symptoms and menstrual cycles. Your healthcare provider will also perform a pelvic exam. During this exam, your provider inserts a speculum . The provider is able to examine your vagina, cervix and uterus. The doctor will feel for any lumps or changes. They may take a small sample of vaginal fluid for testing.
If your provider thinks you may have secondary dysmenorrhea, you may need additional tests, such as an ultrasound or a laparoscopy. If those tests indicate a medical problem, your healthcare provider will discuss treatments.
If you use tampons and develop the following symptoms, get medical help right away: over 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Dizziness, fainting or near fainting.
- A rash that looks like a sunburn.
These are symptoms of toxic shock syndrome, a life-threatening illness.
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Over The Counter Pain Relievers Use It Only When Its Severe
Medications to reduce period pain are commonly available and you can consume before going to school to have a comfortable day.
However, take medication after consultation of a medical expert to avoid complications at such tender age.
At the same time, it is essential that the body develops immunity and strength for tolerance of pain, so taking pain relievers every single time is not advisable.
Caution: Pain relievers may also have several side effects like heavy or light flow, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and headaches, and thus should be used cautiously.
The Power Of Pycnogenol
Pycnogenol is a plant extract derived from the maritime pine tree found in the southwestern region of France. The extract contains several potent antioxidant compounds. In one study of women between the ages of 18 and 48 years old, those who experienced dysmenorrhea who took a supplement containing 60 milligrams of pycnogenol during their periods had significantly less pain and needed less pain medication compared to when they didn’t take the supplement. They also needed pain medication for fewer days when they took the pycnogenol supplement. Surprisingly, women still needed less pain medication during their periods even after they stopped taking the pycnogenol. However, women who had low levels of menstrual pain weren’t helped by the supplement. Ask your doctor if pycnogenol may help relieve severe pain associated with your period.
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Having A Pelvic Examination
Your GP may want to carry out a pelvic examination to help diagnose or rule out other causes of your period pain.
They’ll insert gloved, lubricated fingers into your vagina to feel for any abnormalities in your womb or ovaries.
The examination won’t be carried out without your permission. You can also ask to have a female GP do it if you prefer. You can bring a friend or relative to the appointment if you want, or ask the practice nurse to be there.
In some cases your GP may also order a pelvic ultrasound.
Follow Proper Diet Plan
Every woman during her periods has a craving for food that she loves. The food you generally crave for is mostly sweet or fried. You can have them because it is important to stay happy during the periods.
But unfortunately, these stuff cannot help to diminish your pain as such. These instead have a poor physiological performance to relieve period cramps.
During periods, there is high level of inflammation and the internal genitals remain pliable and vulnerable to infection. With a proper diet plan, you can efficiently combat these.
While you are outside home, you really cant do much with diet. But when you are at home, diet is perhaps the best option to reach out to when it comes to combating pain.
You can try out multiple eatables and drinks that have proven scientific results for the reduction of period cramps.
Omega 3 fatty acid is extremely good. Omega 3 fatty acids counteract the effects of prostaglandins and prevent its excessive release. Prostaglandins is the ultimate inflammatory substance of the body.
Hence, omega 3 fatty acid reduces the inflammation and the subsequent pain of periods.
Beans, almonds, dark leafy vegetables, and marine fishes contain plenty of omega 3 fatty acids. So, you can include these in your diet.
You can have plenty of spinach, beet roots as well. All these green leafy vegetables contain plenty of magnesium and vitamin B6 that help to keep away the nausea feeling.
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Tame Chronic Sleep Problems
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep quality has an effect on menstrual symptoms and many health conditions. In one study, women who had insomnia reported more severe dysmenorrhea and more interference with daily activities due to symptoms compared to women who did not have insomnia. Practice good sleep hygiene to keep painful menstruation symptoms at bay. This involves going to bed at about the same time every night. Establish and stick to a nightly routine to give your body the signal that it’s time for sleep. The routine may involve things like listening to soothing music, enjoying a cup of tea, or taking a warm bath. Getting adequate sleep to promote overall health will help you manage monthly symptoms associated with your menstrual cycle.
More Sleep Tips
Avoid TV, your smartphone, computer, and other screens before bed to help you wind down. You may feel more comfortable sleeping in different positions during your period. Pay extra attention to sleep hygiene in the days leading up to your period.
A Sprinkle Of Cinnamon
In a study of young women, those who took capsules containing 420 milligrams of cinnamon 3 times a day for the first 3 days of their menstrual cycle had less menstrual bleeding, less pain, and reductions in nausea and frequency of vomiting compared to those who took a placebo. The women didn’t report any side effects associated with taking cinnamon pills. Try a sprinkle of cinnamon on your cereal or cup of hot cocoa. It can’t hurt and it might help your cramps and other period symptoms.
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