Menstrual pain is normal and happens to most women. At some point in their lives, most women will experience it.
Most of the time, it feels like painful muscle cramps in the stomach that can spread to the back and thighs.
Sometimes the pain comes in sharp bursts, and other times it may be duller but more steady.
It could also be different each time. Some periods might hurt a little or not at all, while others might hurt a lot.
You may have pain in your pelvis even when you don’t have your period.
Causes of Menstrual Pain?
When the muscles of the womb wall tighten, this is what causes period pain. Mild contractions happen all the time in your womb, but most women can’t feel them because they are so mild.
During your period, the uterine wall starts to tighten more, which helps the lining of the uterus shed.
When the womb wall contracts, it squeezes the blood vessels that line the inside of the womb. This stops the flow of blood and oxygen to your womb for a short time. When the tissues in your womb don’t get enough oxygen, they release chemicals that make you feel pain.
At the same time that your body is making these chemicals that cause pain, it is also making chemicals called prostaglandins. These make the womb muscles contract more, which makes the pain even worse.
No one knows why some women have more pain during their periods than others. Some women may have a buildup of prostaglandins, which makes their contractions stronger.
Menstrual Pain Can Be Caused by a Health Condition
Less often, a health problem can be the root cause of menstrual pain.
Older women are more likely to have menstrual pain that is caused by a medical condition. Most of the time, it affects women between 30 and 45 years old.
Endometriosis is a medical condition in which the cells that normally line the womb grow in other places, like the fallopian tubes and ovaries. When these cells shed, they can cause a lot of pain.
Fibroids are noncancerous tumors that can grow in or around the womb and can make your periods heavy and painful.
Pelvic inflammatory disease is when your womb, fallopian tubes, and ovaries get infected with bacteria and become very inflamed.
Adenomyosis is a condition in which the tissue that usually lines the womb starts to grow inside the muscular part of the womb. This makes your periods very painful.
Menstrual Pain Can Be Caused By Certain Contraceptives
An intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) is a type of birth control made of copper or plastic that goes inside the uterus. It can also cause pain during your period, especially in the first few months after it’s put in.
If your period pain is caused by a medical condition or an IUCD, it may not hurt the same way as it usually does. For example, the pain could be much worse than usual or last much longer.
This may also cause
Bleeding in between menstruation,
A thick or smelly discharge,
Pain when having sex.
If you have menstrual pain and any of these other symptoms, you should see a doctor.
How Long Menstrual pain Could Last
menstrual pain usually starts when you start to bleed, but some women feel pain a few days before they start to bleed.
Most of the time, the pain lasts between 48 and 72 hours, but it can last longer. Most of the time, it’s at its worst when you’re bleeding a lot.
When young girls get their periods for the first time, they often have pain.
Period pain that isn’t caused by something else tends to get better as a woman ages. After having kids, a lot of women also say they feel better.
How To Manage Menstrual Pain
Most of the time, you can treat menstrual pain at home, you could use –
You can get rid of your pain by taking ibuprofen or aspirin.
But you shouldn’t take ibuprofen or aspirin if you have asthma or if you have problems with your stomach, kidneys, or liver. Aspirin shouldn’t be taken by people younger than 16 years old.
You could also try paracetamol, but studies have shown that it doesn’t relieve pain as well as ibuprofen or aspirin.
If regular painkillers don’t help, your doctor may give you something stronger, like naproxen or codeine.
Other things you can do to help yourself
Stop smoking. Smoking may make you more likely to have period pain. Exercise. You may not want to exercise when you have a painful period, but being active may help ease the pain. Try some gentle swimming, walking, or cycling.
Heat. Putting a heat pad or hot water bottle (wrapped in a tea towel) on your tummy may help relieve pain.
Warm bath or shower—Taking a warm bath or shower can help you relax and ease pain.
Massage: A light, circular massage around your lower abdomen may also help relieve pain.
Relaxation techniques: Activities that make you feel good, like yoga or pilates, can help you forget about pain and discomfort.
transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation (TENS) is a small battery-powered device that sends a mild electrical current to your stomach to help relieve pain.
When to See a Doctor
See a doctor if your period pain is very bad or if your normal pattern of periods changes, such as if your periods become heavier or more irregular than usual.
Checking the pelvis
The doctor may want to touch your stomach to make sure it feels normal.
If your symptoms are strange, your doctor may do an internal exam, which is sometimes called a pelvic exam. This can help you figure out what’s causing your Menstrual pain or rule out other things.
You might be given a birth control pill. It can help with menstrual pain because it thins the lining of the womb and lowers the amount of prostaglandin that your body makes.
If the lining of the uterus is thinner, the muscles of the uterus don’t have to tighten as much when it sheds. Also, your period will be less heavy.
If the birth control pill doesn’t work for you, the birth control implant or the birth control shot are good alternatives.
The Mirena intrauterine system (IUS) can also help with painful periods.
When To See A Specialist
If painkillers or a hormonal birth control pill haven’t helped with your period pain after 3 months, your doctor may refer you to a specialist, who is usually a gynecologist.
The specialist will do more tests to confirm or rule out an underlying health problem.
Some tests you might carry out are:
Urine or blood test.
A pelvic ultrasound
If you have menstrual pain because of an underlying health problem, your treatment will depend on what that problem is.
For instance, if you have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), you may need antibiotics to treat the infection, while fibroids may need to be surgically removed.
Menstrual Pain and Having a baby
Pain from your period that is a normal part of your cycle won’t affect your ability to get pregnant. But if the cause is a health problem, this could affect your ability to have children.
For example, endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease can cause scarring and a buildup of tissue in your fallopian tubes. This makes it harder for sperm to reach an egg and fertilize it.