Women all over the world experience period pain at least once in their entire lives. While some experience it infrequently, there are those that deal with it every time they have their period. But despite its irregularity, the fact remains that it is one uncomfortable experience and something that hinders women from functioning properly. If you’ve ever wondered how you can get rid of this uncomfortable sensation during that time of the month, here are some things you need to know about period pains.
What is a period pain?
Most of the time, period pains are called dysmenorrhea or menstrual cramps. These are painful sensations commonly felt on the lower abdomen of women’s bodies. They can occur any time before or during a menstrual period. While there are those that experience an annoying pain, there are others that experience extreme pain.
Why does period pain occur?
Period pain usually during ovulation. This is the time of the month when the ovaries release an egg and it travels down the fallopian tube. Since menstruation occurs monthly, there are some women who experience period pain frequently.
It is important to know, however, that while it is normal to experience some discomfort, pain, and cramps during the menstrual period, excessive pain is not. If the pain causes you to miss school or work, it may be time to get checked by a physician as an underlying factor may be causing the uncomfortable sensation.
Two Types of Dysmenorrhea
One thing you need to know about period pains is that they come in two primary types: primary and secondary dysmenorrhea. The most common type is primary dysmenorrhea, which is usually characterized by pain experienced on the lower back or abdomen. It can occur 1-2 days before a period starts and may even last 2-4 days after that. The good news is, there is no underlying issue that causes this uncomfortable sensation.
On the other hand, secondary dysmenorrhea is usually associated with a medical problem such as pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids, or endometriosis. This type of dysmenorrhea has been identified as a sensation where cramps are experienced.
Who are at risk for period pain?
Unlike other sickness and discomfort, period pains do not have an identifiable cause. At the same time, they differ from person to person. This is why it cannot be identified as to what causes women to experience it. The risk factor for menstrual pain, however, include the following:
- Below 20 years old
- Family history
- Heavy bleeding with period
- Irregular periods
- Never had a baby
- Early puberty (below 11 years old)
One finding is that each month, a hormone-like substance is expelled to help the uterus expand its lining. These trigger muscle contractions that often lead to inflammation and pain. Women that have a higher prostaglandin level may be more susceptible to severe menstrual pain and cramps.
In the case of secondary dysmenorrhea, the pain experienced from menstrual periods may be a side effect caused by an underlying health condition. Among these conditions include:
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Fibroids in the uterus (non-cancerous tumors)
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Cervical Stenosis
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Symptoms of Dysmenorrhea
Among the symptoms of period pain include the following:
- Loose stools
- Throbbing/Cramping pain on the lower abdomen
- Pain on the lower back and thighs
While these symptoms are typically associated with period pain, they do not require a visit to a doctor. However, if the pain becomes worse and hinders you from performing your daily tasks, it may be best that you get checked by your gynecologist. This is true if you experience these along with period pain:
- Passing blood clots
- Pain after IUD placement
- Cramping along with diarrhea and nausea
- Painful menstrual periods that last longer than 3 months
- Pelvic pain when not menstruating
- Sudden cramping or pelvic pain
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
Without you knowing it, you may already be experiencing an infection in the area. If left untreated, it could lead to damage to the pelvic organs and may even result to infertility. It is best that you seek medical attention right away.
How does a doctor diagnose the condition?
When you decide to see your physician, you will be checked for any possible ailment that are often associated with period pain. To help a doctor make a better diagnosis of the condition, you may be asked to undergo these tests:
- Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Once the results have been obtained, the physician will see to it that he studies the findings so proper medication and treatment may be followed.
If your physician discovers that your period pain is caused by an underlying medical condition, he may prescribe you to take antibiotics so that the infection can be cleared. Another common treatment used for period pain is hormonal birth control through a pill, vaginal ring, patch, implant, or injection. With these, your period pain can be controlled as they make use of hormones to prevent the process of ovulation. In worst cases, surgery may be performed so that cysts, uterine fibroids or endometriosis implant may be removed. If all else fails, a hysterectomy is an option presented to the patient.
Treating period pain
On the contrary, if your doctor determines that your period pain is normal and is not a result of an underlying health condition, you can be advised to do some home treatment methods so you can keep your period pain on a tolerable scale. Among the things you can do at home to get rid of period pain include:
- Take a warm bath
- Eat light, healthy meals
- Use a heating pad on the area
- Massage the abdomen
- Take an anti-inflammatory medication a few days before the expected date of your period
- Raise your legs
- Lie down with your knees bent
- Take vitamins while minimizing intake of sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol
- Practice relaxation techniques or meditation
- Eat fruits and vegetables
- Reduce stress
- Quit smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Do yoga
By doing these, you can be in control of your period pain. You can keep this discomfort at a minimal level that it no longer disrupts you from performing your daily tasks.