What Causes Period Pain
The reason why periods are painful in primary dysmenorrhoea comes down to natural compounds, known as prostaglandins, produced in the body.
Prostaglandins are involved in many bodily processes, including inflammation and digestion. They are also responsible for the contractions of the muscles of the uterus .
These muscle contractions help to shed the lining of the uterus, which in turn becomes your menstrual fluid. However, in cases of period pain the contractions are strong and painful and blood flow to the area is reduced.
Women with primary dysmenorrhoea tend to have increased levels of prostaglandins, which makes the contractions stronger.
However, exactly why some women have higher or lower levels of prostaglandins, and what causes the higher levels, is not known.
The other type of period pain that doctors refer to is secondary dysmenorrhoea.
This type of period pain is caused by an underlying reproductive disorder, such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or fibroids.
“In secondary dysmenorrhoea, the period pain is a symptom of a larger issue, and treatment may involve treating the underlying condition,” says Dr Manwaring.
Acupuncture May Help By Relaxing The Nervous System
Acupuncture can help relieve cramps, says Jeannie Bianchi, a licensed acupuncturist in San Francisco. This ancient Asian healing method is thought to relax the nervous system, allow more blood to flow to internal organs, and quell inflammation, Bianchi says.
In a review published in April 2016 in the CochraneDatabase of Systematic Reviews experts looked at 42 studies that observed the effects of acupuncture on period cramps. Each compared acupuncture with no treatment, conventional treatment , or a sham acupuncture procedure. Many of the studies found that the acupuncture group had less period pain and no side effects. The researchers emphasize, however, that the quality of all of the studies was poor.
Can I Drink Milk During My Period
Dairy isnt a smart choice. Dairy is a major part of a well-balanced diet, but eating too much cheese or consuming too many milk-based products on your period can cause your period cramps to worsen. In fact, dairy can lead to bloating, gas, and diarrhea, according to Healthline. So, play it safe and skip the ice cream.
Read Also: How Can I Make My Period Stop For A Date
Foods That Might Help With Cramps
If youre looking for the best food for period cramps, choose light, healthy fruits and vegetables that wont be heavy in your stomach. Fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds can help decrease inflammation in the body and can help menstrual cramps.
The great news is the best foods for period cramps can often be found in your fridge! Top health foods on this list are common and great choices when youre looking for what to eat when you have cramps. There are plenty of foods that might help with menstrual cramps.
If youre looking to adjust your diet and stock up on foods that might help with cramps, here are some to try:
/5other Health Conditions It Could Lead To
OTHER HEALTH CONDITIONS IT COULD LEAD TO: Period pain is caused due to two reasons. The first one is primary dysmenorrhea and the other condition is endometriosis. While the former is considered as simply painful periods which is believed to impact women during their menstrual cycle, endometriosis is the condition when bits of tissue that line the uterus grow on other pelvic organs, like ovaries or fallopian tube. These tissues, when they grow outside the uterus, can thicken and bleed, just as the normal endometrium does during the menstrual cycle. This condition may cause severe pain, especially when a woman is on her monthly cycle. It could even lead to problems with fertility.
You May Like: What Pills To Take For Period Cramps
Start Hormonal Birth Control
Using hormonal birth control such as oral contraceptives or a patch, ring, or hormonal IUD can help relieve cramps and reduce your blood flow, resulting in less discomfort.
Thats because hormonal birth control thins the endometrial lining of your uterus, which prevents severe cramps. It also helps by lowering the level of prostaglandins, the compounds that make your uterus muscles painfully contract.
For this to be effective, you must be using birth control regularly, prior to your cramps starting, Sandoval says.
The Different Types Of Period Pain
Doctors divide period pain into two different types. The more common type is called primary dysmenorrhoea. This type of period pain typically starts from your first period, or in the years shortly after.
With this type there is no underlying condition causing the period pain, says Dr Manwaring.
“The levels of pain can vary in primary dysmenorrhoea,” she says. “Typically, the pain has a regular pattern, beginning just before or as the period begins. It usually lasts for 1-3 days, but is most severe during the first or second day of the period.”
The pain is usually located in the lower abdomen , but can also affect the lower back and thighs. It’s often described as a constant ache or a cramping, gripping pain.
Dr Manwaring says the period pain from primary dysmenorrhoea can usually be well controlled with over-the-counter painkillers , the oral contraceptive pill, or through other means for example, a hot water bottle or heat pack, physical activity or relaxation techniques.
“However, if these techniques are not managing the pain, seek advice from a health practitioner,” says Dr Manwaring.
Recommended Reading: I Took A Plan B And My Period Is Late
What Medicine Works Best For Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual cramps are defied as the sudden contraction in the muscles that causes mild to moderate pain. The pain may last for few second to few minutes, but in case of menstrual cramps the dull pain may last for 2-3 days. The pain of the menstrual cramps may start before the occurrence of menstrual cycle and is classified under the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. The menstrual cramps are caused due to the shedding of uterine lining that causes inflammation. The other symptoms related to menstrual syndrome includes bloating, belching, water retention, irritability, feeling tired and mood changes. Various medicines are available for managing the pain of menstrual cramps.
Ways To Relieve Period Cramps
While menstrual cramps can be painful, you can take many routes to relief and get rid of the pain.
More than half of women who menstruate report some pain from period cramps for a day or two each month, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. While menstrual cramps, also called dysmenorrhea, are usually not a sign of a serious health condition, they can put a crimp in your lifestyle.
To help with the pain, here are 10 safe and effective tactics. If your period cramps seem severe or you dont get relief despite trying some of these options, check with your doctor to rule out more serious health issues.
A heating pad can be just as effective as medication to treat menstrual cramps.
Recommended Reading: How Can I Delay My Period
Period Pain Caused By Contraceptive Devices
An intrauterine device is a type of contraception made from copper and plastic that fits inside the womb. It can also sometimes cause period pain, particularly during the first few months after its inserted.
You may notice a change in your normal pattern of pain if your period pain is linked to a medical condition or a contraceptive IUD. For example, the pain may be more severe or it may last much longer than normal.
You may also have:
See a GP if you have any of these symptoms as well as period pain.
How To Get Rid Of Cramps And Other Treatment Options
Donât let this cramp your style though, several home remedies may help alleviate the symptoms of menstrual cramps and get you back to your normal life. So, if you are looking to stop period cramps fast or make the pain of cramps go away, use these tips to put your painful periods at ease:
- Lie down with a heating pad on your stomach, lower back, or lower abdomen to take the edge off the pain
- You can also place a hot water bottle on the lower back or lower abdomen to alleviate your period pain
- Take a warm bath to reduce the pain of menstrual cramps and increase blood flow
- Ask your doctor about which over-the-counter pain reliever or anti-inflammatory drugs are best for you
- Give yourself a little massage where it hurts.
- Exercise. You probably have ZERO interest in moving while in pain, but exercising before and during your period will lower your level of prostaglandins .
- Have sex! Yup, you heard us right. Having sex on your period may help with period cramps. Learn more about period sex.
If you have severe menstrual cramps, hormone treatments and birth control pills are also options that some use to help manage their cycle. Certain types of hormone treatments can stop ovulation, significantly reducing menstrual cramps. Birth control pills are often used to reduce the effect of prostaglandins. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of hormonal birth control and hormones treatments to ease the pain of menstrual cramps.
Don’t Miss: Can You Get Pregnant The Day After Your Period
How Do I Know Whats Causing Them
If you have very painful menstrual cramps or cramps that last longer than two or three days, make an appointment with your healthcare provider.
Depending on your other symptoms, they may recommend additional tests, including:
- an ultrasound to check the size and thickness of your uterus as well as detect fibroids or cysts
- a CT scan, which can provide a detailed view of your reproductive organs
- gynecologic laparoscopy, a minimally invasive surgical procedure, to confirm a diagnosis of endometriosis
Severe menstrual cramps are typically hard to treat on your own, but these tips may help while you work with your healthcare provider to narrow down an underlying cause:
- Get regular exercise. Results of a
Related Questions Answered On Yanswers
- what are some exercises that make period cramps go away?
- Q: i am 12 years old and i have really bad period cramps. i started my period 8-9 months ago. every time i get my period i get bad cramps!what are some exercises that will make my period cramps go away?btw i dont have and exercising machines.i talk pepto bismo sometimes but it oly works for 20 mins
- A: Take an aspirine, increases the amount somewhat but definitely decreases pain, take a warm bath, drink warm-hot herbal teas, always put on socks to keep your feet warm, talk with friends on the phone or walk outside windowshopping as you do, and youll forget about the pain.
- Why does moving around make your cramps go away during your period?
- Q: I keep hearing that exercise or moving around helps the pain go away. Is that true and why?
- A: ok the real cure!!!! haha weird but good..put a pretty hard pillow and you lay and put the part of your stomach that hurts on the pillow and lay there!!! it feels soooooo good!!!!
Recommended Reading: Brown Stuff Instead Of Period
Don’t Miss: What Causes Period To Be Late
How Long Period Pain Lasts
Period pain usually starts when your bleeding begins, although some women have pain several days before the start of their period.
The pain usually lasts 48 to 72 hours, although it can last longer. It’s usually at its worst when your bleeding is heaviest.
Young girls often have period pain when they begin getting periods. Read more about starting periods.
Period pain that does not have an underlying cause tends to improve as a woman gets older. Many women also notice an improvement after they’ve had children.
It May Lead To Better Sleep
Add melatonin to the list of meds masturbating might replace.
This hormone is linked to feelings of sleepiness, says Che Che Luna, a sensuality coach and sex educator at Allbodies, an online platform for reproductive and sexual health.
Plus, sex is a cardiovascular and even strength, depending on the position activity. So if you really got after it, its normal to feel spent.
Read Also: Why Do I Get Headaches During My Period
Having A Heart Attack
And this is even backed up by medical professionals, people. Many doctors agree that those who experience severe cramping and muscle spasms while on their period endure pain comparable to having a heart attack. However, unlike a heart attack, the pain doesn’t kill you and doesn’t stop when you seek medical help. It continues on and on. If it does stop by some chance of luck, it comes back later and sneaks up on you. So, basically, it’s like having multiple heart attacks within the span of a week .
Complementary And Alternative Medicine
Some studies have shown that complementary therapies, including massage, acupuncture, and yoga can help alleviate menstrual cramps, but more research is needed.
Other studies show promising results for some women who have taken certain supplements and herbs to treat their cream , but again none seem conclusive enough to endorse as a standalone treatment.
Remember that taking supplements or herbal remedies can cause side effects just like pharmaceutical drugs do. If you seek medical attention for your symptoms, be sure to disclose any and all supplements you take to your healthcare provider.
Read Also: Primosiston To Stop Period
You May Like: What Is The Enrollment Period For Medicare
What I Can Do To Relieve Pms
Many of the things that help ease cramps can also help with PMS. Here are some different ways to relieve PMS symptoms:
Take over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen , naproxen , or acetaminophen . Always follow the instructions on the bottle. Talk with your doctor before taking pain medication if you have an allergy to aspirin or severe asthma.
Do aerobic exercise, like walking, running, riding a bike, swimming, or any activity that gets your heart rate up. Regular exercise is ideal.
Do breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga.
Get plenty of rest. Sleeping regularly every night can help with stress, mood changes, and feeling tired or fatigued.
Eat healthy foods like fruits, veggies , whole grains, and yogurt.
Limit fat, salt, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
Make sure you get enough vitamins in your diet, or take vitamin supplements. If you dont get enough calcium, take a supplement of 1200 mg of calcium daily. Magnesium and Vitamin E might also help.
Use hormonal birth control . Your doctor can help you find a birth control method that can help with PMS.
What Is Period Pain Equivalent To
Menstrual cramps, or Dysmenorrhea as its technically called, has finally been ruled as painful as having a heart attack. Professor of reproductive health at University College London, John Guillebaud, told Quartz that patients have described the cramping pain as almost as bad as having a heart attack.
Read Also: Waterproof Pads For Swimming On Your Period
Do You Need To See A Doctor
If your menstrual cramps are unusual or severe, or if they last more than a few days, you may want to see your doctor. Painful period cramping is treatable, so anytime youre worried about your symptoms, its a good idea to talk to your doctor.
Your doctor may perform a pelvic exam to make sure everything is normal. They may also ask you questions about your menstrual period history, suggest lifestyle modifications, or even recommend and prescribe medicines that may help relieve your painful periods.
Tips For Exercising On Your Period
Exercising on your period doesnt have to be uncomfortable. Learn how to relieve period cramps and make it easier on yourself with these tips:
- You may consider taking ibuprofen or naproxen sodium in the morning to help head off cramps and achiness.
- Wear a supportive, well-fitted sports bra that keeps your breasts in place and helps with breast tenderness as you move.
- Wear a tampon and an ultra-thin panty liner to help prevent leaks through your leggings.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and ease bloating.
- Consider wearing looser, more comfortable clothing than your typical yoga pants.
Remember, if you have severe menstrual cramping and pain that disrupts your life, you should speak to your physician. Severe pain could be the result of a condition such as endometriosis.
At Womens Care, our OB/GYN experts can help diagnose the cause of menstrual pain. We provide treatment for all womens health conditions and can help you find menstrual pain relief. Contact us today to learn more or schedule an appointment.
You May Like: What Do Large Blood Clots During Period Mean
On The Lookout For Changes
Even though there are a wide array of experiences of period pain, it’s also important to learn what’s normal for you, so you can be on the lookout for any changes.
If you experience a sudden increase in your ‘usual’ levels of period pain, or if you start to get period pain when previously you had none, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor to rule out anything serious.
For more information on pelvic pain including pain that occurs at times outside of your period read our recent article, Pelvic pain: know the different causes and when to seek help.
How Do You Know Which Type You Have
Primary dysmenorrhoea is much more common than secondary dysmenorrhoea. However, because the period pain of secondary dysmenorrhoea can be severe and linked with serious health conditions, it’s important to be aware of what’s ‘normal’ and what’s not when it comes to period pain.
It’s also important to know when it’s okay to manage the pain on your own, and when it’s better to reach out for extra help.