27 Oct 2017
What is Period Pain?
Period pain is common and a normal part of the female menstrual cycle. This is usually felt as painful muscle cramps in the tummy, which can spread to the back and thighs area. The pain sometimes comes as intense spasms, whilst at other times it may be considered as dull but more constant pain. This varies each month, some periods may cause little or no discomfort, whilst others may be more painful; females may even experience pelvic pain when not on their period.
Menstrual cramps are painful sensations that affect many women before and during a period. This pain is also known as dysmenorrhea which ranges from dull and annoying to severe and extreme. Menstrual cramps tend to begin after ovulation when an egg is released from the ovaries and travels down the fallopian tube.
What are the Causes of Period Pain?
• Period pain occurs when a muscular wall of the womb contracts (tightens).
• During your period, the wall of the womb begins to contract more vigorously to encourage the womb lining to shed away as part of the female monthly menstrual cycle.
• When the muscular wall of the womb contracts, it compresses the blood vessels lining the womb. This cuts off blood supply temporarily and oxygen supply to the womb. Without oxygen, this causes chemicals to be released in the tissues inside the womb triggering period pain.
• Chemicals called prostaglandins which cause the muscle of the female womb to contract more increasing the pain level. Women who build up strong prostaglandins, may experience stronger contractions causing stronger period pain.
• Endometriosis- This is where the cells that normally line the womb begin to grow in other places, such as in the fallopian tubes and ovaries; causing intense pain when shedding and falling away.
• Fibroids- non-cancerous tumours which grow in the womb and result to painful and heavy periods.
• Pelvic inflammatory disease- where your womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries become infected with bacteria, causing them to become severely inflamed and painful.
What are the Risk Factors of Period Pain?
• Irregular menstrual bleeding
• Never given birth
• Family history of dysmenorrhea
• You’re a smoker
• Over the age of 25 and begin to have severe menstrual cramps suddenly
What are the Symptoms of Period Pain?
• Irregular periods
• Throbbing or cramping pain in lower abdomen that is intense
• Bleeding in between periods
• Constant aching of period
• Worsening pain every month during periods, worsening symptoms affecting your life every month
• A thick or foul smelling vaginal discharge
• Pain during sex
• Pain in the lower back and thighs
• Nausea or vomiting
• Faintness or dizziness
• Heavy bleeding during periods
• Fatigue See your GP if any of these symptoms are experienced.
How can Period Pain be Managed?
• Soaking in a hot bath
• Applying heat, for example a hot water bottle, to the lower abdomen.
• Balanced Diet- eating fruits and vegetables
• Cutting down on smoking or quitting smoking
• Regular Exercise
• Massaging your abdomen
• Good posture
What Treatments are available for Period Pain?
• Prescription medications such as Naproxen
• Over the counter medications such as ibuprofen and paracetamol
• Ultrasound scans
• TENS machine to help reduce period pain
• In severe cases you could be referred to a specialist
To find out more information on period pain visit