What Causes Pain in the Legs During Menstruation?

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In anticipation of possible pregnancy, a woman's body releases an egg from her ovaries (called ovulation) and the lining of her uterus thickens to form a welcoming environment to that egg to nest should it be fertilized. If fertilization doesn't occur, a woman then menstruates, or has her period.

A woman's body goes through that process, called a menstrual cycle, once every 21 to 35 days. And a period can last 2 to 7 days.

Because the uterus is contracting to shed the built-up lining and blood, women often experience cramps during their period, especially on the first day or two. Pain in the back or legs is also common.

Woman with cramps
Woman with cramps (Image: Alliance/iStock/Getty Images)

Painful periods

Step 1

Experiencing severe and frequent pain during periods is a menstrual condition called dysmenorrhea. There are two types of dysmenorrhea:

Primary dysmenorrhea. Caused by severe and abnormal uterine contractions, women with this condition experience pain early on, with their first period and continue to have severe pain with every menstrual cycle throughout their lifetime.

Secondary dysmenorrhea. This is the result of a physical cause (pelvic inflammation, endometriosis or another disease or condition) and is not something a woman experienced with every period early in life.

Woman with menstrual pain
Woman with menstrual pain (Image: Alliance/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 2

Although the pain caused by uterine contractions is often centered in a woman's abdomen, the pain can radiate to her back and/or down her legs.

Any woman may experience pain in her legs during her period, however, that is one of the common signs of dysmenorrhea.

Pain in legs
Pain in legs (Image: belchonock/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 3

There are several home remedies that can reduce pain in the legs during your period. Your doctor can tailor a treatment plan that just right for you which may include over-the-counter pain medication.

Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like aspirin and ibuprofen can help block the chemical in the body thought to cause the pain in your legs. It can also alleviate back pain and the pain of cramps during your period.

Other treatments many women have found effective include:

Heating pad on the area Hot bath or shower Massage Change in diet during menstruation (increase protein intake and decrease sugar and caffeine)

Leg massage can help
Leg massage can help (Image: byryo/iStock/Getty Images)

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Tips & Warnings

  • There's no reason to suffer with leg -- or any pain -- during your period. If you're experiencing pain during menstruation, talk to your doctor to tailor a treatment plan that fits your health history, lifestyle and type of pain
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