Period Pain

Also called: Dysmenorrhea, Menstrual cramps, Menstrual pain

What are painful periods?

Menstruation, or period, is normal vaginal bleeding that happens as part of a woman's monthly cycle. Many women have painful periods, also called dysmenorrhea. The pain is most often menstrual cramps, which are a throbbing, cramping pain in your lower abdomen. You may also have other symptoms, such as lower back pain, nausea, diarrhea, and headaches. Period pain is not the same as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS causes many different symptoms, including weight gain, bloating, irritability, and fatigue. PMS often starts one to two weeks before your period starts.

What causes painful periods?

There are two types of dysmenorrhea: primary and secondary. Each type has different causes.

Primary dysmenorrhea is the most common kind of period pain. It is period pain that is not caused by another condition. The cause is usually having too many prostaglandins, which are chemicals that your uterus makes. These chemicals make the muscles of your uterus tighten and relax, and this causes the cramps.

The pain can start a day or two before your period. It normally lasts for a few days, though in some women it can last longer.

You usually first start having period pain when you are younger, just after you begin getting periods. Often, as you get older, you have less pain. The pain may also get better after you have given birth.

Secondary dysmenorrhea often starts later in life. It is caused by conditions that affect your uterus or other reproductive organs, such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids. This kind of pain often gets worse over time. It may begin before your period starts, and continue after your period ends.

What can I do about period pain?

To help ease your period pain, you can try

  • Using a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower abdomen
  • Getting some exercise
  • Taking a hot bath
  • Doing relaxation techniques, including yoga and meditation

You might also try taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include ibuprofen and naproxen. Besides relieving pain, NSAIDs reduce the amount of prostaglandins that your uterus makes, and lessen their effects. This helps to lessen the cramps. You can take NSAIDs when you first have symptoms, or when your period starts. You can keep taking them for a few days. You should not take NSAIDS if you have ulcers or other stomach problems, bleeding problems, or liver disease. You should also not take them if you are allergic to aspirin. Always check with your health care provider if you are not sure whether or not you should take NSAIDs.

It may also help to get enough rest and avoid using alcohol and tobacco.

When should I get medical help for my period pain?

For many women, some pain during your period is normal. However, you should contact your health care provider if

  • NSAIDs and self-care measures don't help, and the pain interferes with your life
  • Your cramps suddenly get worse
  • You are over 25 and you get severe cramps for the first time
  • You have a fever with your period pain
  • You have the pain even when you are not getting your period

How is the cause of severe period pain diagnosed?

To diagnose severe period pain, your health care provider will ask you about your medical history and do a pelvic exam. You may also have an ultrasound or other imaging test. If your health care provider thinks you have secondary dysmenorrhea, you might have laparoscopy. It is a surgery that that lets your health care provider look inside your body.

What are treatments for severe period pain?

If your period pain is primary dysmenorrhea and you need medical treatment, your health care provider might suggest using hormonal birth control, such as the pill, patch, ring, or IUD. Another treatment option might be prescription pain relievers.

If you have secondary dysmenorrhea, your treatment depends upon the condition that is causing the problem. In some cases, you may need surgery.

Symptoms of Period Pain

The following features are indicative of Period Pain:
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • loose stools
  • dizziness
  • intense cramping pain in lower abdomen
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • disorientation
  • hypersensitivity to sound, light, smell and touch
  • fainting
It is possible that Period Pain shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Period Pain

The following are the most common causes of Period Pain:
  • endometriosis
  • uterine fibroids
  • adenomyosis
  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • cervical stenosis

Risk Factors for Period Pain

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Period Pain:
  • younger than age 30
  • early puberty
  • menorrhagia
  • metrorrhagia
  • family history
  • smoking

Prevention of Period Pain

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Period Pain. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • use of certain types of birth control pills

Occurrence of Period Pain

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Period Pain cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Period Pain most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 12-52 years

Common Gender

Period Pain most commonly occurs in the following gender:
  • Female

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Period Pain

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Period Pain:
  • Ultrasound: To create an image of uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries
  • Imaging tests: To produce detailed images of internal structures
  • Laparoscopy: To detect an underlying condition, such as endometriosis, adhesions, fibroids, ovarian cysts and ectopic pregnancy

Doctor for Diagnosis of Period Pain

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Period Pain:
  • Gynecologist

Complications of Period Pain if untreated

Yes, Period Pain causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Period Pain is left untreated:
  • interference with school, work and social activities
  • fertility problems
  • ectopic pregnancy

Procedures for Treatment of Period Pain

The following procedures are used to treat Period Pain:
  • Surgery: May help reduce your symptoms

Medicines for Period Pain

Below is the list of medicines used for Period Pain:

Self-care for Period Pain

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Period Pain:
  • Use heating pad therapy: Apply heating pad to lower belly area to relieve menstrual pain
  • Use dietary supplements: Helps reducing menstrual cramps
  • Regular exercise: Helps easing the pain of menstrual cramps
  • Avoiding alcohol and tobacco: To reduce worsening of menstrual cramps
  • Reducing stress: To increase risk of menstrual cramps and their severity

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Period Pain

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Period Pain:
  • Practicing meditation: Helps relaxing and relieves stress
  • Practicing Yoga: Helps relieving pain
  • Practicing acupuncture therapy: Helps relieving menstrual cramps
  • Practicing acupressure techniques: Helps relieving menstrual cramps
  • Using Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) techniques: Helps relieving menstrual cramp pain
  • Using herbal medicines: Provides some relief from menstrual cramps

Patient Support for Treatment of Period Pain

The following actions may help Period Pain patients:
  • Talk early and often: Talk to your daughter about the changes she can expect in her body

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Period Pain.

Related Topics

Period Pain

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