First Things First: Youre Normal
Davis reassured us that its totally normal to struggle with your upset stomach during your period. Digestive issues during your period are really common, she said. Helping my patients understand that this is a common complaint among women and being open about the causes helps alleviate anxiety that they may be experiencing something abnormal.
But, Davis warned that those of us with underlying gastrointestinal issues may be more susceptible to digestive problems during our periods. Women with irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease sometimes experience worse symptoms than women who dont have a GI disorder.
Why Do I Have Cramps But No Period
Pelvic pain similar to a menstrual period can happen at times when no period is due or can occur because of conditions other than the monthly cycle. Sometimes it is hard to tell the exact reason for cramps that feel like a menstrual period.
The following diseases and conditions are examples of situations that can cause pain or cramps when not on your period.
Other Characteristics Of Severe Abdominal Pain
Also, pay attention to the quality and location of the pain. Your pain may be localized and limited to one area of the abdomen. It may be intermittent, or colicky, which is a term that describes the pain that is sudden and feels like a severe muscle spasm. The pain can also feel like cramps or a tightening sensation in your stomach.
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How Common Is Period Pain
The medical term for period pain is dysmenorrhoea and it’s a condition that many women are familiar with.
The research on just how many women have painful periods varies but, in a 2012 study from Italy, 84% of young women experienced period pain.
In an Australian study of female high school students, it affected 93%.
When Is Period Pain Normal
Period pain is indeed a normal part of having a period, it is caused when the walls of the womb contract mildly. Although your womb contracts regularly throughout the month, during your period it begins to contract more intensely in order to encourage the lining of your womb to shed as part of your monthly cycle.
When your womb contracts it momentarily cuts oxygen supply to the blood vessels in the lining of your womb, which in turn release chemicals that trigger pain. This is a totally normal and healthy part of having a period and shouldnt interfere with your day to day life and can be treated with ibuprofen. However, when period pain becomes unbearable it is time to seek a medical opinion
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When To See Your Doctor For Diagnosis
If you feel like your periods are more painful than other peoples, or if you experience pain during your period in all different parts of your body, see your doctor.
Some people with endometriosis dont have severe pain as a symptom, but they experience one or more of its other symptoms.
The diagnosis process for endometriosis isnt very straightforward. It usually takes several appointments to get the correct diagnosis. According to a small study conducted in Brazil, the younger you are, the harder it is to get a correct diagnosis.
The same study also concluded that it takes, on average, seven years from the onset of symptoms to get properly diagnosed.
For some, the endometrial tissue doesnt show up on MRI, ultrasound, or sonogram testing. The only way to get a clinical diagnosis was via laparoscopic surgery, Connolly explained.
The seventh OB-GYN I visited was the doctor who told me she thought I had endometriosis and that I could probably wait a few years to have surgery since I was so young.
Worried about the recovery process, Connolly went back and forth about having the procedure done. But then, two weeks after the appointment, she experienced a ruptured ovarian cyst.
My mom found me unconscious on the floor of the bathroom, she said. After a frantic ambulance ride to the hospital, Connolly made her decision.
That day, I decided I was going to find an endometriosis specialist and go forward with the surgery.
A typical plan may include:
How Much Period Pain Is Normal
If youre like most women, youve experienced period pain at some point in your life. A little bit of mild cramping can be considered normal, especially at the beginning of your period. But ideally, you wont even feel your period coming at all.
If youre consistently having to pop painkillers like candy, or youre in too much pain to go to work or school, then something deeper is going on. That type of period pain is not normal. In medicine, painful periods are called dysmenorrhea.
Your period is like a barometer of your overall health. It tells you how well your body is being nourished , how much stress youve been under, and how much inflammation might be going on in your body.
Its important to uncover the root causes of why your hormones are in turmoil so that you can find the least invasive, safest and most effective solution.
The great news is that womens hormonal issues respond beautifully to natural medicine and, with a little detective work, you can troubleshoot your problems to get back on the road to wellness.
First, lets explore the causes of menstrual pain.
Im going to get all sciency because I want you to really understand whats going on inside of your body. I even made a cute little drawing to help explain everything. Bear with me and keep reading. Itll all make sense I promise!
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When To See The Doctor
If you notice an increase in the amount of pain or discomfort than what you normally feel during menstruation or that the pain and cramping have been continuing for a few days then it is time to see the doctor.
The doctor will take a thorough medical history, maybe do a pelvic examination and check for any abnormalities in the uterus or ovaries. A test of the vaginal fluid may also be done. If everything turns out to be normal then the same course of over the counter pain medication with a closer observation will be advised. If, however, it is suspected that the pain and cramping are due to the presence of secondary dysmenorrhea then the underlying conditions will have to be treated.
What Can I Do For Cramps
If cramps bother you, you can:
- Take a pain reliever. Talk to your mom or dad or your doctor about which medicine is best for you. They can help you figure out how much to take and how often.
- Exercise! Being physically active can ease cramps, probably because exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals in the body that make you feel good.
- Get warm. Try placing a warm water bottle, warm heating pad, or warm compress on your belly or take a warm bath.
If these tips dont help, talk to your parent or your doctor about other treatments.
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Menstrual Cramps Last Too Long
Its normal for the bleeding during menstruation to last anywhere from two to seven days. Its not normal, however, to have bad period cramps that entire time.
Two or three days of menstrual discomfort is considered to be normal.
Cramps may start the day of or day just before the bleeding starts, but they should not continue all the way until the end of your period. They certainly shouldnt still be there after your period ends.
Your Diet Is Not Good
We just talked about prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and their role in menstrual cramps. But what causes your body to produce them in large amounts? Much of it has to do with your diet.
A diet full of vegetable oils, refined grains, sugar, and alcohol is almost guaranteed to make your periods miserable. Because of the ways these foods damage your cells, disrupt your hormones, and interfere with cell communication, these foods will send your immune system into a firestorm. And that means prostaglandins and pain.
When I talk about vegetable oils, Im mainly referring to canola , safflower, corn, sunflower, peanut, cottonseed and soybean oils.
These are the most common oils used in things like salad dressings, sauces, mayonnaise, and any fried or processed foods.
Because these oils are extracted from the seeds using high heat and chemical solvents, they are oxidized by the time they make it into our food. And those resulting oxidized fats and solvents are powerful drivers of cell damage and inflammation. Also, these oils are high in omega-6 fats that promote the production of inflammatory prostaglandins.
Unfortunately, 99% or more of restaurants use canola oil in their cooking because its cheap and has a neutral taste and a stable shelf-life. And most people dont think about vegetable oils as a source of inflammation as they slather their healthy salads with any ol store-bought salad dressing.
- Sweetened yogurt
- Sweet cereals and granola
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Lower Abdominal Pain In Teenage Girls
A few causes of abdominal pain are specific to teenage girls .
How To Stop Period Pain Naturally
I admit that I am not a fan of using birth control pills or painkillers to treat painful periods.
Why? Because birth control pills increase the risk of blood clots, they can cause permanent side effects , and they do nothing to address the root causes of the pain in the first place.
Period problems are a message from your body that something is out of balance. When we suppress those messages, we can create additional problems.
Over-the-counter painkillers are effective for pain and can help to reduce heavy bleeding, but they can cause liver or kidney damage with long-term use. They can also damage the gut, which contributes to body-wide inflammation.
No judgment.naturopathic doctorneed
In addition to minding your diet, stress, sleep and toxic load, there are some really helpful natural therapies out there. Keep in mind that not all of these will work for everyone, so you have to find something that is safe and effective for you. Remember to always check with your health care provider before trying any supplements or treatments.
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Maintain A Healthy Weight
Changes in your weight can affect your period. If youre in a larger body, losing weight could help regulate your periods .
Alternatively, extreme weight loss or being underweight can cause irregular menstruation. Thats why its important to maintain a moderate weight.
People who menstruate and have obesity are also more likely to have irregular periods and experience heavier bleeding and pain. This is due to the impact that fat cells have on hormones and insulin.
If you want to lose weight, talk with your doctor. They can help you identify a target weight and come up with a strategy of how to get there.
What Causes Period Pain
If you experience chronic painful periods, its only natural to wonder why. Maybe youre the only woman in your family who gets severe cramps. Maybe your painful periods didnt start until your twenties. Whatever your situation, a doctor can help you understand why you get painful cramps every month. Some of the most common causes of painful periods are:
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Ways To Start Feeling Better
Some women may benefit from hormonal contraception, like birth control pills or a hormonal IUD, to help decrease the hormonal fluctuations that contribute to digestive issues, said Davis. But for those of us that may also be struggling with IBD or IBS flare up during your period, its important to get treated for these specific digestive issues by a specialist first.
Davis also recommended keeping a journal. Write down and keep track of symptoms, diet, and physical activity to determine if certain triggers, like a type of food, worsen symptoms. From there, try to eliminate or avoid those triggers right before and during 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 didnt report any side effects associated with taking cinnamon pills. Try a sprinkle of cinnamon on your cereal or cup of hot cocoa. It cant hurt and it might help your cramps and other period symptoms.
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What Are The Causes Of Painful Periods
For more information on endometriosis, click here .
What is endometriosis? Endometriosis happens when the type of tissue that normally lines the uterus , grows in other places within her body, usually somewhere in the abdomen.
What causes endometriosis?The cause of endometriosis is not understood, there are several theories. In some women menstrual blood containing endometrial cells travels backwards, up through the fallopian tubes, and into the abdomen. In others, tissue of the type that normally lines the uterus, develops in other parts of the abdomen or pelvis. The tissue appears less responsive to the female hormone progesterone. A genetic factor has also been identified. Whatever the cause, in too many women the diagnosis comes late, after years of suffering. And early diagnosis is important.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis? The symptoms of endometriosis include painful menstrual cramps, painful intercourse, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea. The symptoms are different in different women.
How does endometriosis affect a womans health? Endometriosis can cause many problems for a women, apart from painful periods. Endometriosis can cause painful cysts on the ovaries, puckering ad scarring in the tissues that line the pelvis, and can affect other structures in the pelvis and abdomen, such as the fallopian tubes, the bladder the bowel, and the wall between the vagina and the rectum. In some cases endometriosis can impair fertility