Mefenamic Acid is a fast-acting medication that relieves pain and discomfort. Mefenamic Acid is most popularly used to treat period pain.
Period pain and discomfort during your menstrual cycle is a common and normal part of menstruating, and most women will experience period pain at some point in their lives. But if you’re someone who experiences severe period pain, it can make going about your everyday routine incredibly difficult. Luckily, there are period pain tablets and solutions for reducing your pain levels when you’re struggling with your periods.
What Is Period Pain?
Period pain can manifest in several ways, such as painful muscle cramps in the stomach which can spread to the lower back and the thighs, or intense spasms which can be dull and constant or intense and sporadic. For some women, period and PMS pain can vary with each cycle – you may experience little to no pain with one period and then the following month, suffer from painful cramps.
Bad period pain usually begins at the start of your bleeding, although for some women, it can start several days before the start of their period. It typically lasts between 48 and 72 hours, but you may experience bad period pain when your period is at its heaviest.
Common Symptoms of Period Pain
Symptoms of severe period pain include:
- Cramps in the lower tummy
- Aching in the lower back and/or thighs
- Breast tenderness
- Diarrhoea and/or bloating
What Causes Period Pain?
Period pain occurs when the muscles in the wall of the womb contract – mild contractions occur continually, but they’re usually so mild that most women don’t feel them. However, during your period, the contractions become more intense to help the womb shed the lining as part of your menstrual cycle. When the walls of the womb contract, the blood vessels compress which temporarily cuts off the blood and oxygen supply to the womb, which triggers pain.
When the body releases pain-triggering chemicals, it also produces prostaglandins which cause the womb to contract even more which results in further pain. Doctors do not know why some women experience severe period pain while others do not, however it may be because some women have a larger build-up of prostaglandins which results in stronger womb contractions.
Period pain can also be caused by certain medical conditions, although this is less common and tends to affect women aged 30-45. Medical conditions which can lead to period pain include:
- Endometriosis, which causes the cells lining the womb to grow elsewhere such as in the fallopian tubes or ovaries. This can cause incredible pain when these cells shed.
- Fibroids which are non-cancerous tumours which can develop in and around the womb and can lead to heavier, more painful periods.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which is where the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries become infected with bacteria and become inflamed.
- Adenomyosis which causes the tissue lining the womb to grow within the muscular wall of the womb, which results in more painful periods.
Intrauterine devices, or IUDs, can also cause period pain. This is a type of contraception made from copper and plastic and is fixed into the womb to prevent pregnancy. However, it can also cause period pain, especially for the first few months after insertion. IUDs can affect the regularity of your period, making them longer and more intense than usual.
Popular Period Pain Relief Treatments
There are several options when it comes to period pain relief to make your periods less painful and intense.
Painkillers are a common option – ibuprofen and aspirin can help you manage your pain during your period. However, don’t take these painkillers if you have issues with your stomach, kidneys or liver, or if you have asthma. Aspirin should also not be taken by anyone under 16 years of age. Paracetamol is also an option, but research suggests it’s not as effective as Ibuprofen or aspirin in reducing pain.
Another solution is period pain tablets such as mefenamic acid – this is a prescription-only medication that can be used to treat period pain. It works by offering pain relief and reducing inflammation and high temperatures.
Other self-help measures that can be effective include:
- Quitting smoking, as cigarettes are believed to increase the risk of period pain
- Gentle exercise such as swimming, walking or yoga
- Taking a warm bath or shower
- Gentle massage techniques where you’re experiencing pain.
- Using a heat pad or hot water bottle on your stomach to reduce pain.
When To See Your Doctor
If you’re experiencing intense period pain every month or your periods have become heavier or more irregular than normal, you may need to see your GP. They will carry out a pelvic examination and possible an internal examination to check that there are no underlying conditions which require treatment. Your doctor might prescribe the contraceptive pill, injection or implant to manage your period pain. Depending on whether you have underlying symptoms, you may also be referred to a specialist to investigate the cause of your heavy periods.
Related guides and articles
The Complex Relationship Between Periods and Pregnancy
A New Study on Period Shame Reveals Some Startling Figures
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