Pain during menstruation is incredibly common. In varying degrees, it affects or has affected the vast majority of women.
The medical term for pain that accompanies menstruation is dysmenorrhea. This can be split into two distinct types - primary (caused by your period) and secondary (pain exacerbated by a condition during your period). You may experience menstrual cramps without any bleeding or pain with bleeding.
Although pain during your period is normal, you should not disregard it. If you find your period pain is extreme or having an impact on your life, speak to your doctor. You may require medication, or it may indicate another more serious underlying condition.
What other symptoms are associated with period pain?
Pain during menstruation is different for every woman. It most often presents as cramps, which will feel as though they are originating in the lower abdomen - you may also experience a throbbing or spasming pain. Again, the duration of pain is completely individual and may start one to two days before you begin bleeding. It will last (on average) for around three days.
Other symptoms, indirectly caused by the presence of pain or the increase in prostaglandins include:
- gastrointestinal pain
You may find the intensity of symptoms is most apparent when your flow is heaviest.
If any of these become too intense or cause you any distress, you should seek medical assistance. You should also seek medical help if any of the following apply to you:
- you have a fever during menstruation
- you have very heavy bleeding
- pain increases with age
- you have pain outside of menstruation
- your period impacts daily life
How can I reduce period pain without medication?
Not all period pain is intense enough to require medication, and not all people want to take medication (for various reasons).
You may find some alleviation of pain by experimenting with the following home remedies and lifestyle changes:
- apply heat - heat therapy works by relaxing uterine muscles - the ones that are cramping and causing you pain. Try placing a hot water bottle or heat pad on your lower abdomen.
- exercise - when you exercise, your brain releases endorphins. These are feel-good hormones that reduce pain. Regular exercise also reduces bloating, which can exacerbate pain.
- diet - along with exercise, consuming healthy foods helps to prevent water retention. The overconsumption of fatty foods (along with obesity) has also been linked to higher levels of prostaglandins (the source of period pain).
- stay hydrated - dehydration causes muscle cramps, including uterine cramps.
- massage - by focussing on the abdominal area, you can alleviate uterine muscle contractions. Acupuncture can also be applied for the same results - consult a professional for this service.
What treatments are available?
There are many different ways of treating period pain, however, it has been shown that the most effective method is by using anti-inflammatory drugs. In particular, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These include ibuprofen and naproxen.Our Pharmacist can provide you with Naproxen after a short consultation.