The Medical Conditions Linked To Period Pain
There are two main causes of period pain: Primary dysmenorrhea and endometriosis. The former is simply painful periods, with no certain medical explanation, that tends to affect women as soon as they start menstruation. But the distinction between the two conditions is not clear-cut, as many women suffering dysmenorrhea may have undiagnosed endometriosis. Its estimated that while 20% of women have the former, around 10% of ovulating women in the US have endometriosis, and it takes on average 10 years to get an accurate diagnosis.
Endometriosis occurs when the tissue similar to that lining the uterus grows on other areas, usually within the pelvis, such as fallopian tubes and ovaries. This tissue has also been found on the bladder and intestines, and in rare cases, even in the lungs and brain. The body reacts to these lesions with inflammation and an attempt to cover it with scar tissue, and one of the most common symptoms is severe menstrual cramps. Left untreated, it can cause infertility. And yet theres significant confusion about endometriosisthe causes, why some women are predisposed to the condition, if theres a genetic component.
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.
Youre New To Menstruating
The hormonal rhythms that guide the menstrual cycle often need time to establish.
Most people dont get cramps until about 6 months to a year after getting their first period. Periods can remain irregular for the first 3 years as a new menstruator, with symptoms that come and go or vary in intensity from cycle to cycle.
People who recently came off hormonal birth control are also considered new menstruators. The period you got while on the pill wasnt your real period what youre experiencing now is your natural, unsuppressed cycle. It can take several months to adjust to ovulating regularly post-pill, and periods can be erratic until you do.
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Up The Magnesium In Your Diet To Help Nerve And Muscle Function
Dietary magnesium seems to help ease the pain of cramps, says DeJarra Sims, ND, an assistant professor of naturopathic medicine at Bastyr Universitys California campus in San Diego and the author of Your Healthiest Life Now. A Cochrane review of dietary and other remedies published in 2001 concluded that getting enough magnesium can help relieve pain.
Magnesium is found in many foods and as a supplement if you cant get what you need from your diet. Magnesium helps regulate nerve and muscle functioning, among other vital tasks researchers who evaluated the evidence on magnesium call it a promising treatment for menstrual cramps. But they cannot recommend a specific dose, because researchers have studied various doses. The recommended dietary allowance of magnesium for women of childbearing age is about 320 mg daily. An ounce of dry almonds or one half cup of boiled spinach each has about 80 mg.
Dr. Sims says the dose you may need depends on the severity of your cramps and other factors. Ask your doctor about the best magnesium intake for you.
How Is Dysmenorrhea Treated
Specific treatment for dysmenorrhea will be determined by your health care provider based on:
Your age, overall health, and medical history
Extent of the condition
Cause of the condition
Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
Expectations for the course of the condition
Your opinion or preference
Treatment to manage dysmenorrhea symptoms may include:
Prostaglandin inhibitors, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, or NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen
Heating pad across the abdomen
Hot bath or shower
Endometrial resection .
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Signs Of Period Cramps But No Blood
Signs of period cramps may include pain in the lower abdomen or lower back.
Period cramps are pain associated with menstruation, but they may come at different times. There are two categories of period pain, which include:
Primary Dysmenorrhea is the pain that occurs just before or during menstruation. Primary dysmenorrhea usually presents itself during adolescence and varies in intensity.
Secondary dysmenorrhea is pain caused by a disorder in the reproductive organs. This pain can occur before, during, or after menstruation and usually gets worse instead of better over time.
Causes Of Period Cramps But No Blood
While period cramps are a normal sign of menstruation, there may be times when you dont have blood. These may be signs of other conditions, including:
You may experience a sharp pain or dull cramp when your ovaries release an egg. This is called ovulation and can sometimes be mistaken for period cramps. Because this is earlier in the menstruation cycle, your uterus isnt ready to shed its lining yet, so there is no blood.
Ovulation usually occurs about 14 days after your period and is sometimes called mittelschmerz, which is German for middle pain or pain in the middle of the month.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, or cervix. This is caused by bacteria often introduced into the area through sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea. Symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease include:
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Irregular periods like no blood or missed periods
Ruptured ovarian cyst
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops on or in one of your ovaries. These cysts can develop for different reasons and can rupture. Some women may experience mild symptoms including pain in the belly or lower abdomen if they have an ovarian cyst.
You may experience period cramps a day or two before your period starts. It is common to experience period symptoms but no blood yet. This may be a sign your period is starting in a few days.
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Why Are My Cramps So Bad All Of A Sudden
Its not uncommon for period cramps to differ in severity from month to month.
Understanding why your cramps got so much worse all of a sudden is a matter of understanding whats normal for you.
- If your cramps are severe and suddenly much worse than your typical cramps, or if severe pain lasts more than a few days, tell your healthcare provider. These could be signs of endometriosis or adenomyosishealth conditions that affect about 1 in 10 women of reproductive age, and can develop later in adulthood.
- If your cramps are suddenly worse than usual but still within a normal range for you, this article explains possible reasons why.
Reason For Painful Cramps: Ectopic Pregnancy
The fertilized egg didnt travel to the uterus to attach to the endometrium of the uterus. Instead, it is attached to the fallopian tube, most often in ampulla, ovarian, isthmus parts, fimbria site of the ovary or cervix.
Very often ectopic pregnancy is mistaken for appendicitis. The symptoms of the ectopic pregnancy are severe pain and bleeding. Shall you develop any of the symptoms, dont hesitate to address your healthcare provider.
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Period Pain And Fertility
Period pain thatâs 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.
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What Are The Origins Of Menstrual Cramps
Uterus is an organ with muscular layers, and during your period it does a lot of work. Cramps are the way that uterus responds in order to control the bleeding during menstruation. If you are having a lot of menstrual blood or a blood clot, the uterus is actually cramping to expel that.
For some of you, cramps are causing only a slight discomfort. For the others, the painful period cramps can interfere with your daily activities. So, why do period cramps hurt?
Menstrual cramps can be caused by several reasons. Lets see the most severe of them.
Endometriosis is the abnormal growth of endometrial cells.
Apart from the pain, other symptoms of endometritis include:
- Cyclic pelvic pain
- Defecation pain
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Why Do I Have Bad Cramps On Period
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
- adenomyosis the presence of endometrial cells growing in the muscle layers of the uterus. Adenomyosis is difficult to treat.
Important Questions To Ask Yourself
To find out if you need extra help, Dr Manwaring recommends you ask yourself these five questions:
If you answered ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions, talk to a trusted doctor about your painful periods.
Pain, heavy bleeding or other factors regarding your period that get in the way of you going about your life shouldn’t be suffered in silence.
If you’re finding your period hard to manage, you don’t need to go it alone. Help and effective treatments are available.
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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%.
How Is Dysmenorrhea Diagnosed
To diagnose dysmenorrhea, your health care provider will evaluate your medical history and do a complete physical and pelvic exam. Other tests may include:
Ultrasound. This test uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs.
Magnetic resonance imaging . This test uses large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
Laparoscopy. This minor procedure uses a laparoscope. This is a thin tube with a lens and a light. It is inserted into an incision in the abdominal wall. Using the laparoscope to see into the pelvic and abdomen area, the doctor can often detect abnormal growths.
Hysteroscopy. This is the visual exam of the canal of the cervix and the inside of the uterus. It uses a viewing instrument inserted through the vagina.
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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.
Feels Like I’m Dying From Menstrual Cramps Am I Normal
Its that time of the month when your hormones are supposedly out of whack, everything annoys you, and it feels like a shark is attacking your abdominal area. As much as you dont like it, you know menstrual cramps are normal. But what if it seems like this time is the worst out of all the other times? As much as 29 percent of women experience severe menstrual cramps that are bad enough for medical attention. Womens expert Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones tells you how to identity whether or not your menstrual cramps are normal or not.
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Could Cramps Happen A Week Before Your Period
Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome can vary widely by person, and while its not totally common, changes in estrogen and progesterone can cause cramping as much as a week before your period begins.
Cramps a week before your period may also be caused by other things. Here well discuss what else may be causing early cramps.
Your Body Was Stressed At Some Point In The Last 3 Months
Although you cant make progesterone without ovulation, just because you ovulated doesnt automatically mean youll make enough progesterone to support an easy period.
Progesterone levels are only as healthy as the tissue that produced it. Progesterone is made by the corpus luteuman ovarian tissue that quickly forms after ovulation from the remnants of the egg that was just released.
That egg, while newly released, isnt brand new. Its been slowly developing inside the ovary for the past 90 days or soabout 3 monthsbefore it was released.
If the health of a growing egg cell is compromised at any point during its 90-day developmental journey, it can compromise the health of the corpus luteum it will later help form. A compromised corpus luteum makes less progesterone, which can worsen cramps and PMS.
This means that factors that damage developing egg cells can show up as bad cramps or PMS months later. These factors can include:
- Physical or emotional stress
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Take Otc Or Prescribed Medication
- If you have severe menstrual cramps, then OTC medication isnt likely to completely quell your symptoms, but they may be able to take the edge off and help you to get through your day. If your period cramps stop you from being able to go on with your day-to-day routine, you may want to talk to your doctor about some stronger prescribed pain medications.