Period pain is a normal and natural part of the menstrual cycle that most women get at some point in their lives. Usually, it will feel like a painful abdomen muscle cramp, which may also spread to the thighs and back. The period pain can get intense in some instances, while at other times, it might be dull and regular but more constant. The pain may also differ from each period cycle; while some causes little or zero discomforts, other might be more painful. You might also experience pelvic pain in certain instances, even when you don’t have your period.
Period pain causes
Period pain occurs when the muscle walls of the womb tighten, leading to mild contractions continually. But they are mild that some women cannot feel the pain. During the period, the womb wall starts to contract vigorously to help with the womb lining shed. When it contracts, it squeezes the blood vessels in the womb lining.
The process tends to cut off the oxygen and blood supply to the womb. Without oxygen, the tissues release chemicals that can trigger pain and produce other chemicals called prostaglandins, increasing the pain level.
There is no known reason some women have more pain intensity than others. It might be that some women have prostaglandins build-up, so they experience more intense contractions.
Period pain treatments
Painkillers like aspirin can help you manage your pain, but don’t consider taking aspirin if you have asthma, or kidney, stomach, or liver problems. Also, aspirins are not recommended for anyone under the age of 16. Paracetamol can also be an option, but studies suggest that it doesn’t reduce pain as well as aspirin.
Other self-treatments for period pain
- Stop smoking since it can increase the risk of developing more pain
- Exercise more
- Try keeping a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower stomach
- Warm shower or bath
- Light circular massage around the lower abdomen
- Relaxation techniques like yoga or pilates
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 23 JUNE 2022