Menstrual pain is common for many women. Commonly referred to as “cramps,” but scientifically known as “dysmenorrheal”, woman of all ages can suffer from cramps, which usually begin when the period begins and last for up to three days. For some women, the pain is a minor inconvenience, while for other women it can be a major setback in their daily lives.
Cause of Pain
The tissue that lines the uterus of the woman’s body makes chemicals called prostaglandins. These are the cause of many uncomfortable conditions during menstruation.
Prostaglandins stimulate the uterine muscles to contract. Because not all women suffer cramps pain during their period, it’s believed that women who have higher levels of prostaglandin are more likely to experience the contractions that cause cramps.
Women who suffer heavy periods might also during that time suffer diarrhea, vomiting and headaches and it’s believed that prostaglandins are also responsible for heavy periods.
While some pain is common during your period, there are some conditions that cause pain and usually require medical care. These include endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts and a narrow cervix.
Who is Most Likely to Suffer Period Pain?
Some women are more likely to suffer period pain.
For example, women who get their first period young (younger than 11 years old) and women who have periods that last longer than five days are more likely to suffer period pain.
Women who are overweight or obese are more likely to have pain as are women who smoke or use alcohol. Women who have never been pregnant are more likely to suffer pain as well. Many women find they no longer suffer period pain once they have children.
Based on health history and conditions, different women might be able to take advantage of different pain relief methods for their period. The most common pain relief, however, include medications from the NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) family.
Some of the most common painkillers used for menstrual pain include naproxen (like Aleve) and ibuprofen (such as Advil).
Most doctors recommend that women take the NSAID product about two days before her period is due to begin. This helps to reduce inflammation which can reduce overall pain once the period begins.
Not all painkillers work the same in each person so many doctors will recommend taking a different kind of pain relief if the first doesn’t work.
If you don’t want to take medication, or it’s not enough to relieve the pain, there are some natural remedies that work well for some women. Most concern lifestyle changes.
During the period, you can apply heat to the pelvic area (a heating pad works well), or get a massage on the back and lower abdomen.
Lifestyle changes that can help with period pain include exercising (particularly at the start of the period) and a low-fat vegetarian diet. Some studies have shown that getting adequate amounts of both thiamine (about 100 mg daily) and calcium (1,200 mg daily) can vastly reduce pain suffered during your period.