Menstrual Cramp Causes And Risk Factors
Menstrual cramps happen because of contractions in the uterus, or womb, which is a muscle. If it contracts too strongly during your menstrual cycle, it can press against nearby blood vessels. This briefly cuts off oxygen to the uterus. Itâs this lack of oxygen that causes your pain and cramping.
You can also have cramps because of:
- Endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus grows outside of the uterus
- Fibroids in your uterus
- Adenomyosis, when your uterine lining grows into nearby muscle
- Pelvic inflammatory disease , an infection caused by bacteria that starts in the uterus and can spread to other reproductive organs
- Cervical stenosis, or a narrowing of the lower part of your uterus, caused by scarring, as well as a lack of estrogen after menopause
Certain things put you at a higher risk of menstrual cramps. Youâre more likely to have them if you:
- Are under 30
Facts About Period Pain
If you have dysmenorrhoea you are not alone. Around 80% of women experience period pain at some stage in their lifetime. You can suffer from period pain from your early teens right up to the menopause. Most women experience some discomfort during menstruation, especially on the first day. But in 5% to 10% of women the pain is severe enough to disrupt their life. If your mother suffered period pains, you are more likely to suffer too. In 40% of women, period pain is accompanied by premenstrual symptoms, such as bloating, tender breasts, swollen stomach, lack of concentration, mood swings, clumsiness and tiredness.
There are two different types of period pain:
What Are Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual cramps are throbbing, aching cramps you get in your lower belly just before and during your period. Theyâre some of the most common, annoying parts of your period. They can strike right before or during that time of the month. Many women get them routinely.
Cramps can range from mild to severe. They usually happen for the first time a year or two after a girl first gets their period. With age, they usually become less painful and may stop entirely after you have your first baby.
Your doctor may call your cramps dysmenorrhea.
Recommended Reading: Primosiston To Stop Period
Get Yourself A Heating Pad
Heat is essential. Studies have established that applying constant heat at areas with cramps, reduces the severity of the pain.
Disposable heating wraps are subtle and easier to maintain, as it is placed under your clothes. The heat also lasts a few hours, which is convenient. MenstruHeat is one such heat patch you can get!
Dont Miss: Signs To Know Your Period Is Coming
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.
Recommended Reading: Dark Brown Discharge Instead Of Period
Take A Piece Of Chocolate
Chocolates are a girls best friend and sure save the day in menstrual phase too.
When having severe cramps, take a piece of chocolate in the mouth and consume the melting form without actually chewing it.
Chocolate calms the senses instantly and the high magnesium content gives strength to deal with pains. Chocolate also causes secretion of endorphins in the body, the hormones that is a natural pain killer.
Try these simple techniques while at school, work, travelling or in a public place where you cannot treat the trouble in privacy.
It is not necessary that a single technique works for all, therefore be a decision maker for yourself, take a step at a time and deal with the problem.
Period problems should not restrict you from doing things that you like or are necessary after all.
Ways To Combat Period Cramps At Work
Have you ever taken leave from work because of your unbearable period cramps? I have. One day off work can cause you to back log your work and deadlines. Getting back to work from that one- or two-day break usually just increases work pressure, not to add how emotionally and mentally drained you already are.
Here are ways you can conquer your period cramps at work, and avoid taking a precious day off!
You May Like: Brown Stuff Instead Of Period
Period Cramp Feels: What Menstrual Cramps Feel Like
Period cramps might feel like muscle cramps in your stomach with pain that radiates to the thighs and back. For some, it comes in sharp spasms. For others, cramps are dull-but-steady. The symptoms and intensity of pain can also vary from one period to the next.
The uterus is a muscle. When it squeezes and releases, you might experience:
- sharp pain
- an achy or tight feeling
- a mild to severe stomachache
Cramping usually lasts 2 to 3 days, but it can last longer and feel like forever. Most of the time, the pain lessens after the first 2 days.
Diagnosing Cramps With No Period
Always call a doctor if you have cramps that wonât go away, whether or not you have your period.
Your doctor will want to know if your pain is sudden or ongoing. The more details you can give, the faster they may be able to diagnose and treat you. Youâll be asked questions about your symptoms and your periods.
Your doctor may do tests or procedures to learn the cause of your cramps. If your doctor suspects it is related to your uterus, or ovaries, common tests are:
Laparoscopy, a type of exploratory surgery to look at the structures inside your pelvic area, including your uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
Your doctor may refer you to someone who specialize in stomach or intestinal disorders or a urologist if they suspect that cramps are caused by any of those areas .
Johns Hopkins Medicine: Pelvic Pain.
Glencoe Regional Health Services: Possible causes of ovarian pain.
St. Lukes Health System: Ruptured Ovarian Cyst.
Kruszka, P.S. American Family Physician, July 15, 2010.
KidsHealth: Pregnancy Calendar: Week 4.
KidsHealth: Pregnancy Calendar: Week 5.
WomensHealth.gov: Irritable Bowel Syndrome Fact Sheet.
Center for Young Womens Health: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
Christiana Care Health System: Pelvic-Floor Muscle Dysfunction.
UpToDate: âPatient information: Chronic pelvic pain in women .
UpToDate: Patient information: Irritable bowel syndrome .â
American Cancer Society: âWhat Is Ovarian Cancer?â
Recommended Reading: 90 Day Probation Period Template
How Do I Know If My Cramps Are Severe
Menstrual cramps feel like a throbbing or cramping pain in your lower abdomen. You may also feel pressure or a continuous dull ache in the area. The pain may radiate to your lower back and inner thighs.
Cramps usually begin a day or two before your period, peaking around 24 hours after your period starts. They typically last for two to three days.
Menstrual cramps can be accompanied by other symptoms, including:
- spotting between periods
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.
Also Check: Can You Donate Blood While Menstruating
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 Are Period Cramps
Most women have experienced dysmenorrhea, or period cramps, at some time. It tends to happen just before and during the menstrual cycle. What does it feel like to have period cramps? Its often described as a cramping or constant ache in the lower belly and lower back back. The intensity varies some women dont experience cramps or theyre very mild, while for other women, it can be painful enough that normal day-to-day activities are affected.
What causes period cramps? During menstruation, the uterus contracts as it gets rid of the lining thats what the blood is. The contractions are what cause the cramping. Thats normal cramping, anyway. Other conditions, like endometriosis and adenomyosis, can also trigger period cramps.
What relieves period cramps fast? This also depends on the woman. Over-the-counter medications can help, as can birth control pills . Warm compresses applied directly on the abdomen can help. But ultimately, many women just wind up grimacing and bearing the pain each month.
Read Also: Usaa Grace Period Auto Insurance New Car
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.
What To Do When Menstrual Cramps Are Severe
The period cramp relief tips above are a good place to start, but they may not work for every woman especially for those who have very painful cramps.
If you’re experiencing serious pain during your period, it’s important to talk to your OB-GYN. She or he will ask you about your symptoms and cycle and can recommend lifestyle changes that may help ease your pain, as well as perform a pelvic exam and prescribe medications, if needed.
“For instance, hormonal birth control medications are sometimes used to treat menstrual cramps and the pain that accompanies a period,” adds Dr. Borchardt.
Plus, in some cases, severe pain may be a sign of something more serious.
“Beyond the significant impact that period pain can have on your everyday life, the cramps themselves aren’t typically a medical concern,” says Dr. Borchardt. “However, severe menstrual cramps can sometimes be caused by a more serious gynecologic condition.”
In certain cases, severe period cramps can be a sign of:
- Endometriosis uterine tissue gets implanted in your fallopian tubes, ovaries or pelvic lining
- Uterine fibroids noncancerous uterine growths that can cause pain
- Adenomyosis uterine tissue grows into the muscular wall of the uterus
- Pelvic inflammatory disease infection of your uterus, fallopian tube and/or ovaries
Also Check: Period Blood Stains On Sheets
Causes And Risk Factors
Doctors distinguish between two types of period pain, called primary and secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is where the period pain is caused by the womb muscle contractions alone. Hormone-like substances called prostaglandins play an important role here. They influence the perception of pain and cause the muscles in the womb to tighten, helping to shed the lining of the womb. Primary dysmenorrhea is more common in women under the age of 30 and women with heavy periods. It can run in families, and stress can play a role too.
Period pain that is caused by something other than the muscle contractions is called secondary dysmenorrhea. Benign growths in the womb, such as fibroids or polyps, are often responsible for secondary dysmenorrhea. Severe period pain may also be caused by endometriosis. In endometriosis, the kind of tissue that lines the womb grows elsewhere in the abdomen too. Sometimes contraceptive coils used for birth control can also cause secondary dysmenorrhea.
What Can Help If My Daughter Has Pms
Your daughter can try these things if she has PMS symptoms:
- To help with food cravings: Eat a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- To ease bloating: Lower salt in her diet.
- To ease crankiness or anxiety: Avoid caffeine and get plenty of exercise.
- To help with backache, headache, or sore breasts: Try a warm heating pad or acetaminophen , ibuprofen , or naproxen .
- To relax: Try yoga or meditation.
- To prevent and treat pimples: Work with a dermatologist .
Don’t Miss: 90 Day Employment Probationary Period Template
Diagnosing Cramps But No Period
Remember, if you have period cramps but no blood or period it can be caused by your reproductive system, gut, immune system or may even be a sign of pregnancy. So it’s worth consulting your doctor, especially if your cramps are persistent or severe.
When you feel cramps, jot it down in a journal. What day is it? What time of the month in your cycle? Are you cramping before a period? How does it feel? How long does it last? What did you eat?
This can help your doctor better understand what might be causing your late period pains and how to best treat your pain.
Common tests your doctor might perform to determine the cause include:
- An ultrasound
- A pelvic exam
- A Laparoscopy .
Understanding different causes of cramping and their associated symptoms can help you take the appropriate steps towards regaining your health. Severe cramping is never normal. Mild to moderate cramping and lower back cramps also doesnt have to be normal with the right holistic steps.
If you are experiencing cramps related to your menstrual cycle check out my 21-day hormone revolution detox. Itll help you hit the reset button on your hormones and start moving towards a period free of cramps.