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!
When To Contact A Doctor
A person may wish to speak with a doctor if home remedies do not help reduce cramps or if they are experiencing very severe cramping.
A doctor can suggest other home remedies to try or prescribe medications, such as birth control pills or some types of pain reliever, to manage the symptoms.
Other symptoms that may warrant contacting a doctor include:
- cramps that get worse over time or with age
- severe pain or discomfort
- cramps that interfere with daily life
These symptoms may indicate an underlying condition, for which a doctor will be able to suggest an effective treatment.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about home remedies for menstrual cramps.
Massaging With Essential Oils
Massage therapy for about 20 minutes can help.
Massage therapy for menstruation involves pressing specific points while the therapists hands move around your abdomen, side, and back.
Adding essential oils for an aromatherapy style of massage may have additional benefits.
You can buy a scented massage oil with similar ingredients or make your own.
You should always dilute your essential oil with a carrier oil. Examples include vegetable or nut oils, such as grapeseed or sweet almond oil. A safe concentration is one drop of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil.
Read Also: Cramps Lower Back Pain No Period
Why Are Period Cramps Painful
Dysmenorrhea is thought to be caused by compounds in the body known as prostaglandins. Before menstruation starts each month, the level of prostaglandins in the lining of the uterus increases.
RELATED: 7 Reasons for Painful Periods
Your prostaglandin level is its highest on the first day of your menstrual period, which is why menstrual pain is usually worse then. As your period progresses and the lining of the uterus is shed, your prostaglandin level decreases and pain gets better, ACOG states.
Rev Up Your Libido And Make Sex Fun Again
Menstruation is about as taboo as womens sexuality, but its as important.
I strongly believe normalizing menstruation is a feminist issue. Despite all the social and professional advancement women have made, talking about menstruation is still taboo, says Negron.
Sara Gottfried, MD, speaks of the general feeling of meh toward sex as having a root cause in hormones. Hormones are always in a balance within the body, so when one increases, it means its taking up space of another.
Estrogen dominance and high testosterone can rob you of libido. Cortisol, the main stress hormone can rob you of sex hormones.
|Cramping? Over 3,500 women who took our survey said orgasms relieve their cramps. But the choice is yours during this restful week. Listen to your body, eat according to cycle-syncing nutrition, and gear up for the month ahead.
|Your sex drive is naturally low, which means youll want to increase massaging and touching, rather than penetration. Creative foreplay is key.
|During this phase, your estrogen and testosterone are peaking, which makes you most interested in sex . Spontaneity can spice things up during this week and keep things exciting and frisky.
|In the bedroom, youll need a bit more stimulation to climax. So try out sex toys and fun, brand-new positions.
In combination with exercising and eating right in time with your cycle, work with your body to fight stress and get creative with sex.
Also Check: Missed My Period For A Month
Period Pain And Fertility
Period pain that’s part of your normal menstrual cycle will not affect your fertility. However, if the cause is a medical condition, this may affect your fertility.
For example, endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease can cause scarring and a build-up of tissue in your fallopian tubes, making it harder for sperm to reach and fertilise an egg.
Types Of Painful Periods
The medical name for painful periods is dysmenorrhoea. There are two types of painful periods.
- Primary dysmenorrhoea. This is period pain that isn’t caused by a specific condition. It usually happens within six to 12 months of your periods first starting when youre a teenager. The pain usually begins when your period arrives each month and lasts for between one and three days.
- Secondary dysmenorrhoea. This is pain caused by an underlying medical condition, such as endometriosis or fibroids. This type of period pain gets worse with age. It may happen years after your periods have started, often when youre in your 30s or 40s. The pain may come on at other times during your monthly cycle, especially in the few days before your period starts, as well as when you have your period. It can also get worse, rather than better, as your period goes on.
The endometriosis support page in our Women’s Health Hub offers a wide range of expert advice, information and tools. Find out more about endometriosis support >
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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 it’s 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.
Causes Of Secondary Dysmenorrhoea
Some of the causes of secondary dysmenorrhoea include:
- endometriosis the cells lining the uterus can move to other areas of the pelvis, but behave differently, causing severe pain during periods
- fibroids benign tumours made of muscle and tissue can grow inside the uterus and are thought to be affected by the sex hormones. In the majority of women, fibroids are asymptomatic
- the presence of endometrial cells growing in the muscle layers of the uterus. Adenomyosis is difficult to treat.
Also Check: Does It Hurt When You Get Your First Period
Herbs To Relieve Menstrual Cramps
Chioma Ndubisi, MD, is a board-certified OB/GYN who specializes in sexual and reproductive health in New York, New York.
Menstrual cramps are the result of contractions of the uterus, causing aches, pain, throbbing, and spasms in the pelvic area and lower abdomen. The cramps are thought to be caused by the build-up of hormones called prostaglandins during the early part of the menstrual cycle.
Menstrual cramps are often treated with over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol , Advil , or Aleve . Other people find relief by placing a heating pad or hot water bottle on the lower tummy or taking a warm bath. While useful, these treatments work better for some people than for others.
This article explores some of the natural remedies that people may try to treat menstrual cramps as well as what the current research says.
What Causes Cramps During Your Menstrual Cycle
Though it seems like the muscular contractions would cause the pain, its actually the prostaglandins that take you to cramp town. Typically, the more prostaglandins in your body, the worse you feel during your period.
Luckily, there are ways to minimize those body chemicals and reduce your pain, though they dont always give you the fastest relief.
Read Also: Why Do I Have Heavy Periods
Treatment Of Period Pain
There is a range of medicines you can take to help with period pain.
Pain relief medication: Anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen, mefanamic acid or naproxen stop the body from producing prostaglandins. They are available over the counter from a pharmacy but they may not be suitable for everyone so speak to your pharmacist for advice first. You can also take paracetamol for mild cramps. Stronger pain killers containing codeine are only available with a prescription from a doctor.
Other treatments: Some women find that a heat pack, gentle exercise, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or acupuncture helps control the pain.
Curl Up With A Heating Pad To Ease Period Cramps
The uterus is a muscle, so anything that helps relax muscles, like applying heat, can be beneficial, Thielen says.
Indeed, research published in Evidence-Based Nursing found that topically applied heat was just as effective as ibuprofen for period cramps. Over the two study days, the women used heat alone, heat plus ibuprofen, ibuprofen alone, or a placebo. The best results were in the heat plus ibuprofen group adding heat led to faster improvements.
A review published in March 2014 in The Journal of Physiotherapy also found that heat significantly lessened a womans period pain.
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What Are Treatments For Severe Period Pain
If your period pain is primary dysmenorrhea and you need medical treatment, your health care provider might suggest using hormonal birth control, such as the pill, patch, ring, or IUD. Another treatment option might be prescription pain relievers.
If you have secondary dysmenorrhea, your treatment depends upon the condition that is causing the problem. In some cases, you may need surgery.
How Do I Store And/or Throw Out Menstrual Pain Relief
- Store at room temperature.
- Protect from heat.
- Store in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.
- Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
- Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.
Read Also: How Can Calculate My Ovulation Period
Up The Magnesium In Your Diet
Dietary magnesium seems to help ease the pain of cramps, says DeJarra Sims, ND, a faculty member at Bastyr University in San Diego and the author of Your Healthiest Life Now.
If you want to take a magnesium supplement, Dr. Sims suggests speaking with your doctor, since the dose you need depends on the severity of your cramps along with other factors.
Period Pain Can Be Heavier Than Usual
The follicular phase of the menstrual cycle is from the start of the menstruation to a few days afterwards when the estrogen level is low.
Studies have shown that women are more susceptible and sensitive to pain during the first half of the follicular phase .
To avoid extreme period pain, it is recommended that you postpone dental visits, hair removal, skin peeling or facials, and other painful procedures for 57 days after the end of menstruation.
Pain tolerance reaches its maximum toward the middle of the cycle, and you will be able to resume your health and beauty regimen.
Painful periods can occur even when the reproductive system is completely healthy. In this case, this is called primary dysmenorrhea.
There are several typical period pain causes:
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When Should You Contact Your Healthcare Provider About Menstrual Cramps
Bad cramps keep some women from working and going to school. You dont have to suffer and you dont have to put your life on hold. Contact your healthcare provider if you have painful periods.
It may be helpful to keep track of your periods and the days on which pain is the worst so you can make a complete report. If you notice other symptoms, like headaches or heavy flows, you should keep track of those, too.
Your provider will probably ask you when you started getting your period, how long they last, if you are sexually active, if other women in your family have problems with their periods and what kinds of treatments you might have tried already.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Menstruation is normal. You might get cramps, but you dont have to suffer silently with them. There are ways to make painful periods less painful. Make sure you talk to your healthcare provider about painful periods.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/20/2020.
You Have Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where eating gluten causes serious damage to the small intestine.
Many health care practitioners dont realize that the symptoms of celiac disease can vary, so many people go undiagnosed. In fact, less than half of people with celiac disease have the classic symptoms of GI pain and diarrhea.
Skin rashes, neurological symptoms, fatigue, painful sex and menstrual pain can all be clues that you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Remember, anything that causes inflammation in the gut will cause inflammation in the rest of your body!
Recommended Reading: How Many Weeks Am I If I Missed My Period
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.
Can You Heal Menstrual Cramps With Home Remedies
Most of the time, menstrual cramps can be treated by women at home.
But if your pain is severe and impacts your lifestyle, dont be afraid to talk to your doctor. You might need medicines that are only available by prescription or some other treatment to help.
To help reduce period pain, here are 10 safe and effective home remedies for menstrual cramp relief.
Recommended Reading: Date Of Last Period To Due Date
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.
Why Do Periods May Smell Like Fish
Your menstrual flow is actually sterile and odorless until it comes into contact with air, which makes odors can develop due to bacterial growth. This is more likely if you haven’t changed your period protection product for hours. If you still feel a bad odor after your period ends, talk to the doctor since you could have bacterial vaginosis.
Also Check: How To Stop Your Period For A Few Hours
You Have High Insulin Levels
Insulin increases arachidonic acid, the precursor to the inflammatory prostaglandins that cause menstrual pain. Insulin also promotes clotting and can interfere with ovulation.
How do you know if your insulin levels are too high? Ask your doctor to order a fasting insulin test for you. Your fasting insulin level should be no higher than 8, but I really like to see it 6 or less.
If your insulin is too high, you need to start making changes like cutting sugar out of your diet and emphasizing vegetables, protein and healthy fats. Exercise, especially resistance exercise like weightlifting, is crucial for lowering your insulin levels. Also be sure to get 8 hours of sleep each night: Just one night of sleep deprivation can promote insulin resistance!
Signs and symptoms of imbalanced blood sugar and insulin resistance include:
- Sleep trouble
- Energy crashes or sleepiness after meals
- Sugar cravings