What is period pain?
Period pain is the name used for the abdominal pain that women often experience at the end of their menstrual cycle, and throughout the length of their period. The severity of the pain is usually at its peak on your heaviest day of bleeding. The pain can affect all women differently, with some experiencing very mild pain (or none at all), while others can have very severe, debilitating pain that disrupts their daily lives.
It is usually felt as painful muscle cramps in the stomach (and sometimes back) and it can either come as short, sharp spasms or a longer, dull ache. Most women will experience period pain at some point in their life, although it can often be most intense in your adolescent years and your twenties, rather than as you get older. It’s also normal to notice differing degrees of pain on each menstrual cycle, with some being worse and others being much milder.
What causes period pain?
Each month the lining of your womb (uterus) thickens in preparation for pregnancy, if this occurs the fertilised egg attaches itself to the lining. If the egg isn’t fertilised then the lining breaks down as it is no longer needed. Your body starts to release chemical called prostaglandins which encourage the muscles of your womb to contract and tighten so that they can squeeze the unneeded lining out of your body. This process causes period cramps, these can range from mild manageable pain to pain that stops you from doing everyday tasks. It isn’t known why some women experience more period pain than others. If you experience extreme period, it isn’t normal and you don’t have to live with it, discussing your symptoms with your GP could help you to get treatment to relieve your menstrual cramps.
How Can I Treat Period Pain?
There are many methods to reduce the level of pain associated with your period and there may be one that works well for you to disrupt and alleviate the pain that may not work for others and vice-versa. Taking anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen or aspirin can help to ease menstrual cramps. Although it might feel counter-intuitive, exercise and keeping active can aid in reducing. Many people have found that swimming, walking or cycling is beneficial. A hot shower or bath can aid in relaxing the tense muscles in the abdomen area and therefore ease the pain.
Other aids include hot drinks, massaging the area that hurts, using a TENS machine and stretching based exercises like yoga are very much beneficial. At Cloud Pharmacy, we are able to provide you with life-style advice and pharmacological interventions to help deal with your period pain.