According to Women’s Health Concern, roughly 8 out of 10 women experience some form of period pain in their lifetime. Whilst painful cramps and intense spasms are a common and normal part of a woman’s menstrual cycle, understanding the science behind the pain can offer reassurance that there isn’t anything more sinister behind the discomfort.
In this article we take a look at the causes of period pain and how associated symptoms differ from woman to woman and from month to month. There’s no need to suffer in silence if you are experiencing painful periods, there are a variety of steps you can take.
Why do I experience period pain?
As the walls of the womb contract during your menstrual cycle, the muscles tighten and relax throughout your womb. However, in most circumstances, this feeling is so mild that the majority of women do not feel it. Whilst the womb continually contracts throughout your cycle, during your period these contractions become more vigorous to help the womb shed its lining. During this process, the blood vessels in the lining temporarily lose blood and oxygen supply causing chemicals that generate pain to be released from its tissues. In addition to this, the body will also release prostaglandins, which result in a painful tightening of the muscular wall of the womb.
How does pain differ from woman to woman?
In most women, period pains only starts once bleeding has begun and generally last between two and three days. However, it is normal for painful symptoms to last several days depending on the length and heaviness of the period. Improvements in pain tend to come with age for many, as pain management gets better or symptoms become less and less noticeable. Many women also note an improvement in pain after having children.
For some women, particularly those aged between 30 and 45 years old, period pain can be the symptom of an underlying problem. Those suffering from endometriosis, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease and adenomyosis reported period pain symptoms, known in this context as secondary dysmenorrhoea to medical professionals. Women using the IUD coil as a regular form of contraception are also at increased risk of suffering from period pain.
However, in most cases this symptom only tends to occur in the first one to three months after fitting. If you are experiencing period pain, irregular periods, bleeding in-between periods, unusual vaginal discharge or pain during intercourse, then seeking medical advice is recommended.
What can I do to alleviate period pain?
Painkillers are the simplest way to manage period pain. Ibuprofen, aspirin and paracetamol are all over the counter medications that can be accessed to alleviate mild symptoms. In more serious cases, we also supply period pain treatment Mefenamic Acid at Express Pharmacy. This is an anti-inflammatory medication that can help you through painful periods and offer an effective form of pain relief.
It is worth noting that women who smoke are also at a greater risk of period pain. Smoking is thought to further restrict the supply oxygen to the pelvic area during cramping, resulting in a more intense period pain. Quitting smoking or at least cutting down can significantly reduce the discomfort experienced on a monthly basis.
While many women may feel reluctant to exercise while experiencing period pains, doctors do recommend walking, cycling and swimming as gentle ways to ease discomfort. Yoga and Pilates are also thought to be helpful in alleviating the symptoms of period pain.
Alternatively, heat relief in the form of a hot water bottle or heat pad pressed against the tummy can provide some respite. A warm shower, bath or stomach massage have also been found to be helpful.
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