Period pain is, unfortunately, pretty common. It can vary in intensity from mild (bearable but uncomfortable) to severe (really difficult to put up with without treatment).
Over-the-counter painkillers, like ibuprofen and paracetamol, can help to relieve mild menstrual cramps. For some women, these painkillers just aren’t enough though. Fortunately, dysmenorrhoea is pretty easy to treat, and there are plenty of different options that might be able to help you out!
There are two different types of period pain; primary dysmenorrhoea and secondary dysmenorrhoea.
The most common type of period pain is primary dysmenorrhoea, which are period pains that keep coming back but aren’t caused by other conditions or infections.
Primary dysmenorrhoea happens when the regular contractions of your womb become painful. The lining of your womb is almost always contracting and releasing. These contractions are normally so mild that you wouldn’t feel them. During your period, chemicals called prostaglandins are released. These chemicals cause your contractions become more intense to help your womb get rid of its old lining.
If your body releases too many of these chemicals, it can cause your contractions to become painful. The pain usually starts a few days before your period, and often lasts up to 72 hours (sometimes longer). On top of being in pain, you might also feel really tired, get headaches, and feel (or even be!) sick.
Secondary dysmenorrhoea is period pain that is caused by an underlying health issue, most commonly endometriosis. Other common causes of secondary dysmenorrhoea include pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids, and cervical stenosis.
With secondary dysmenorrhoea, you may also feel pain even when you’re not on your period. You usually won’t feel sick or tired, but you may have heavier and less regular periods, and an unusual discharge. If you have any of these symptoms, you should get in contact with your GP to get checked out ASAP.
There are a lot of options you can try to help with your period pain, including different types of medication or even certain lifestyle changes. What works for someone else may not work for you, so it’s best to try different options until you find the treatment that works best for you.
Medical treatments that can help with period pain include:
Alternative treatments that may help with period pain include: