By Ella Woodward
Every woman goes through menstruation. It often arrives with depression, anxiety, body aches, and even severe period pains often arrive. The menstrual cramps usually show one or two days before your period and can last for three days. While experiencing symptoms like fatigue, nausea, and headache is normal, you should look out for bad period pains.
Dysmenorrhea refers to the extra throbbing and bad period pain in your lower abdomen that radiates to the back, hips or legs. It can persist from 12 to 72 hours and cause nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and diarrhoea. According to a study by the Epidemiologic reviews, 16 – 91% of menstruating women experience dysmenorrhea. What does bad period pain mean? What are its causes and remedy? Keep reading to find out.
Causes of Bad Period Pain
Period pain has two types depending on the originating factor.
The primary type refers to the one you experience during menstruation alone. Studies have shown that too much inflammation is the cause of primary dysmenorrhea due to the increased production of prostaglandins during menstruation.
Because your body produces high prostaglandins when you menstruate, you tend to notice contractions occurring mostly at your lower abdomen and hips. However, your lifestyle can contribute to the risks of this type of pain. Examples include smoking, anxiety, stress, excess weight, early menstruation, etc.
The secondary type results from medical conditions other than your menstruation period. Here, the throbbing pain is not related to your normal period. The following are potential causes of bad period pain:
- Endometriosis is a medical condition whereby uterine tissue develops away from the normal womb. You can find these tissues on hands, legs, and other odd places. Regular uterine tissue bleeding can cause scarring, swelling and bad period pain.
- Adenomyosis is when the uterine tissues that usually line the womb encroach the muscles causing abnormal swelling and pain.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is an inflammation of the uterus and pelvic organs due to the spread of infection from the vagina. The primary cause of PID is sexually transmissible infections (STIs) like gonorrhoea and syphilis.
- Fibroids are also a potential cause of bad period pain. They are abnormal and non-cancerous growths of muscle tissues that develop within the uterine wall. Abnormal growths like cysts and polyps can also cause dysmenorrhea. In this case, the individual will experience lower back pain, constipation and bloating.
- Cervical stenosis which is a constriction of the bottom portion of your uterus and is caused by scarring and a lack of oestrogen during menopause.
- The use of an Intrauterine device (IUD) can cause period pain.
- Asides from abnormal medical conditions, one’s structural womb peculiarities can cause difficult periods.
Signs And Symptoms of Bad Period Pain
The primary symptom women with dysmenorrhea experience are a pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis. It can radiate to the hips, thighs and lower back. High pain sensitivity and heavy menstrual outpour are other signs to notice. Nausea and vomiting, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, and headache, are typical symptoms that occur during menstruation.
Dysmenorrhea symptoms usually start after ovulation and can stretch till the end of menstruation. The prolonged pain is because the medical condition increases prostaglandins and other hormonal levels, aggravating the pain and gastrointestinal discomfort by inflammation.
For some people, the bad period pain reduces with pregnancy, while for others, it can last until menopause. Research shows that 5-15% of women experience interruptions in their life’s activities due to dysmenorrhea.
Consulting Healthcare Professional
Some women cannot focus at work or academics because of painful cramps. Don’t put your life in jeopardy or suffer in silence. If your periods are uncomfortable, see your doctor.
Keep note of your periods and when you feel the most discomfort to provide a detailed report. If you discover additional symptoms, such as headaches or heavy flow, you should also keep records of these.
Your doctor may inquire when you first began experiencing period pains, how long they persist, whether or not you engage in sexual activity, and whether or not other women in your lineage have experienced similar symptoms.
Consult your doctor if your menstrual cramps are severe or if they last for longer than 2–3 days. It’s crucial to get a check for both primary and secondary menstrual cramps.
You’ll need to explain your problems and menstrual cycles in great detail. A pelvic exam is essential for the test, where the doctor will insert a speculum into your body to examine your reproductive organs during this procedure. The doctor will also use their hands to check for abnormalities and collect a small amount of vaginal fluid for testing.
An ultrasound may be necessary if your doctor suspects you have secondary dysmenorrhea. Your doctor will discuss treatment options if the tests show a medical concern.
Medical Treatment Of Bad Period Pain
According to studies on dysmenorrhea, 86.14 per cent of women took pharmaceutical methods to treat the discomfort, while 74.1 per cent of women used non-pharmacological approaches. You can alleviate the menstrual discomfort with medical therapy if DIY remedies fail. The severity and the root cause of your pain will influence the treatment you receive.
Your doctor will give prescriptions to help you eliminate the bacteria if PID or STIs are the sources of bad period pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) are another class of medication that your doctor may give (NSAIDs). Other drugs to relieve bad period pain are Acetaminophen and antidepressants to alleviate some of the mood fluctuations associated with this bad period pain.
Hormonal birth control is another option that your doctor may recommend. A pill, patch, vaginal ring, injection, implant, or IUD are all forms of hormonal birth control. You can reduce menstrual cramps with the help of hormones that suppress ovulation.
Endometriosis and uterine fibroids are treatable using surgery. If other therapy methods fail, this may be a possibility for you. Surgery removes the endometriosis implants, uterine fibroids, and cysts that cause dysmenorrhea.
A hysterectomy may be necessary when all other therapies have failed, and the agony is unbearable. However, the procedure can disrupt your fertility. This choice is best If you’re not intending on bearing kids or are towards the end of your reproductive years.
Surviving Through Bad Period Pain
Only some women experience bad period pain which is not the end of the world. Here are strategies that can help alleviate dysmenorrhea:
- Use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen to lessen the high inflammation levels caused by increased prostaglandins.
- Mild exercise: Menstrual cramps are less common in women who work out daily. Regular exercise can help keep pangs at bay.
- Hot or warm water bath
People who suffer from dysmenorrhea, or severe period pain, know how devastating it can be. Symptoms of dysmenorrhea can have a significant influence on your educational, career, and social lives. The importance of diagnosing dysmenorrhea early cannot be overstated.
It is best to address the differential diagnosis of menstrual pain and other symptoms with a professional healthcare provider. You can manage minor or infrequent menstrual cramps at home. However, doctors must examine the reason and relieve pain whenever feasible if you experience severe and disruptive episodes of bad period pain.