How to help with Painful Periods.

How to help with Painful Periods.

How to help with painful periods. 

Painful periods, also known as dysmenorrhea, is one of the most common women’s health problems.    Most women begin having painful periods during teenage years, often beginning a few years after first starting periods.     Dysmenorrhea is caused by Prostaglandins  (fatty acids that act like hormones)   that are formed in the lining of the uterus during a period.   These prostaglandins cause the muscles within the uterus to contract which causes pain, and sometimes nausea and diarrhea.

Menstrual cramps. painful periods. dysmenorrhea.
Period cramps. Attribution:tipstimes.commenstrual

Pain from dysmenorrhea is often described as crampy and usually located in the pelvic region, just above the pubic bone.  But some women can also experience pain in the back, or down the upper legs.   Symptoms usually start either just before, or just as a period begins.   It usually diminishes after a few days.  While some women complain of just cramps, others, also have symptoms of fatigue, flu-like symptoms, headaches, dizziness, diarrhea or nausea.


If you are experiencing painful periods, there are several things you can do at home to help.  

  1. Exercise.  Exercise has a number of benefits including reducing menstrual symptoms.
  2. Heat. Applying heat to the lower abdomen can significantly reduce pain.   You can use a heating pad, a hot water bottle, or a warm bath.
    dysmenorrhea, period cramps, menstrual cramps
    Heat to your lower abdomen can help relieve period cramps. Attribution:
  3. OTC (over the counter) pain relievers. Using anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen (Advil) or Naproxen (Aleve) often help better for menstrual cramps than Tylenol.
  4. Vitamins and herbal treatments. Some OTC vitamins like: Ginger, Vitamin E or fish oil might have some added benefit for relieving menstrual cramps as well.
  5. Alternative Medicine.  There is some evidence that things like Yoga, acupuncture, or a TENS unit, which is a treatment that involves electrode patches that are applied to the skin, can also help relieve symptoms of painful periods.

If none of these things help, or if your pain is severe, you should seek out care from your medical provider. There are numerous effective ways that can help relieve menstrual pain that can only be prescribed by your provider.  For example, Certain oral birth control pills, NSAIDS and IUDs all have been shown to greatly decrease or eliminate symptoms of menstrual cramps completely.


If none of these things help, or if your pain is severe, you should seek out care from your medical provider  

If nothing is working, including treatment options given by your provider, you might need a diagnostic laparoscopy, which is a surgery that looks inside your abdomen and pelvic to look for other causes of pain, such as endometriosis.

Dysmenorrhea is very common, and can vary from bothersome to quite painful.   You don’t have to live with this kind of pain every month.   Talk to you doctor if you can’t find relief with home remedies.

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