Uterine Defects: Structural Oddities That Can Lead To Menstrual Cramps And Infertility Too
While a female fetus is still in its mother’s uterus, its own uterus develops from two structures known as Müllerian ducts. In some cases, the uterus does not form correctly, which can cause infertility, period pain, and painful intercourse. For women with structural anomalies such as a bicornuate uterus , septate uterus , unicornuate uterus , uterus didelphys menstrual cramps stem from blockages and membranes dividing the uterus and vagina.
How Much Period Cramp Pain Is Too Much Pain
The pain level can vary from child to child, but the pain should be able to be controlled by over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or Aleve, Dr. Dwiggins said. Combining heat and ibuprofen will provide even more relief. Disposable heat patches are thin and easy to wear to school or activities.
Your child should not miss school or activities due to period pain. If their pain cant be managed by these strategies, they should be evaluated.
Start Hormonal Birth Control
Birth control can stop period pain if cramps are caused by a hormone imbalance. Balancing your levels of estrogen and progesterone helps thin the uterine lining so it sheds more easily. Hormonal birth control also regulates the length and frequency of your period. Some forms of birth control can completely alleviate period cramps by stopping your period altogether. Talk to your OB-GYN about birth control options, including the pill, birth control shot or hormonal IUD. Then, youll be able to choose the type of birth control that works best for you.
If youve tried all the treatments on this list and still have painful periods, or you want to know up front which option will work best for you, talk to your primary care doctor or OB-GYN. At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, our womens health doctors can prescribe stronger treatments for menstrual cramps. A little help from a doctor might be the best way to stop dreading your periods.
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When To See The Doctor
If you notice an increase in the amount of pain or discomfort than what you normally feel during menstruation or that the pain and cramping have been continuing for a few days then it is time to see the doctor.
The doctor will take a thorough medical history, maybe do a pelvic examination and check for any abnormalities in the uterus or ovaries. A test of the vaginal fluid may also be done. If everything turns out to be normal then the same course of over the counter pain medication with a closer observation will be advised. If, however, it is suspected that the pain and cramping are due to the presence of secondary dysmenorrhea then the underlying conditions will have to be treated.
Menstrual Cramps Are Classified As
1. Primary Dysmenorrhoea
- Arises in women under the age of 20.
- One may feel mild to severe pain in the lower abdomen, back, and thighs. It starts right before the period and usually lasts between 12-72 hours.
- Due to pain caused by uterine muscle contractions. During menses, a high level of prostaglandins has released that act as chemical messengers which shed the uterine lining by uterine contraction causing pain during menstruation.
2. Secondary Dysmenorrhoea
- One may feel mild to severe pain in your lower abdomen, back, and thighs. It starts right before your period and usually lasts between 12-72 hours.
- It often first arises after a young woman has already been menstruating for several years. Here, women may also have pain at times of the month other than during menstruation.
- Pain during menstruation such as benign uterine growths , endometriosis uterine tissue lining growing outside the uterus elsewhere in the abdomen or pelvis, PID infection of the upper part of the female reproductive system.
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Copper Iud: Period Pain After Insertion Vs Cramps Later On
A copper IUD is a nonpermanent, nonhormonal form of birth control that can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years. The device, which is placed in the uterus by a licensed healthcare provider, works by continuously releasing copper, which immobilizes sperm and prevents egg implantation.
A copper IUD, as opposed to a progestin IUD, can make menses heavier and more painful, particularly in the first few cycles after insertion, says Streicher. But be aware if you have had your copper IUD for years and suddenly develop severe period pain, look for another reason. Your IUD is unlikely to be the culprit.
A Need For More Research
Davis emphasized that theres still a lot of research needed on this topic. Honestly, further research needs to be done to determine the true reason behind what causes digestive issues during womens periods. But, right now, hormones are the most likely explanation. Anything you can do to manage their fluctuation during your period is your best bet, whether its hormonal contraception or taking careful note of what youre eating or doing .
Even if you choose not to pursue these recommended routes, dont forget that theres nothing unusual or unnatural about symptoms like constipation, bloating, and gas during your period. Though period symptoms can sometimes make us feel out of whack, its completely normal to struggle with digestive issues during your period.
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What Can I Do For Cramps
If cramps bother you, you can:
- Take a pain reliever. Talk to your mom or dad or your doctor about which medicine is best for you. They can help you figure out how much to take and how often.
- Exercise! Being physically active can ease cramps, probably because exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals in the body that make you feel good.
- Get warm. Try placing a warm water bottle, warm heating pad, or warm compress on your belly or take a warm bath.
If these tips dont help, talk to your parent or your doctor about other treatments.
Issue #: You Have Diarrhea
What?: Period diarrhea can feel exactly like regular food poisoning diarrhea â loose stools, stomach cramps, bowel urgency, the whole nine yards. Of course, if you’ve ever experienced period diarrhea, you definitely don’t need me to explain it to you.
Whyyy?: Some women’s bodies produce more prostaglandins than others this is why some of us are crampier than others. This is also why some of us experience period diarrhea â since we have extra prostaglandins, we have even more of them that are free to get lost, wander into our bowels, and go to town. Studies have shown that women with more prostaglandins are more likely to experience period diarrhea.
Can You Make It Stop?: Eating starchy foods can help reduce your diarrhea, as can staying away from caffeine, greasy foods, and anything else that you know goes right through you. And stay hydrated! Period diarrhea, just like regular diarrhea, can dry you out.
But if diarrhea is a consistent part of your period routine, you might want to talk to your doctor and get check out for irritable bowel syndrome â IBS sufferers often report that their symptoms worsen during their periods.
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A Sprinkle Of Cinnamon
In a study of young women, those who took capsules containing 420 milligrams of cinnamon 3 times a day for the first 3 days of their menstrual cycle had less menstrual bleeding, less pain, and reductions in nausea and frequency of vomiting compared to those who took a placebo. The women didn’t report any side effects associated with taking cinnamon pills. Try a sprinkle of cinnamon on your cereal or cup of hot cocoa. It can’t hurt and it might help your cramps and other period symptoms.
Causes Of Menstrual Cramps
- Every month, the inner lining of the uterus is prepared for possible pregnancy by the action of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. If pregnancy fails to occur, the estrogen and progesterone levels fall, leading to break down of the endometrium, which is shed during menstruation. When the endometrium breaks down, compounds called prostaglandins are released, which cause contraction of the uterine muscles, resulting in menstrual cramps. Depending on the level of prostaglandins, cramps may be mild or severe.
- Narrow cervical canal, causing difficulty in passage of the dead endometrial tissue during menstruation.
- Retroverted or backwards-tilted uterus.
- Other factors such as lack of exercise, chronic constipation, and emotional stress are also associated with menstrual cramps.
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Learn The Difference Between Painful Periods Endometriosis And Ibs
If you have pain in your pelvic area, it may be difficult to know whats causing your discomfort. Maybe you feel nauseous or constipated, or have diarrhea. You may have mild to severe cramping during your period. Or perhaps you have pain during intercourse or during a bowel movement. These symptoms can range from inconvenient to incapacitating, and the causes can vary as well.
How To Stop Stomach Pain During Periods Treatment And Lifestyle Changes
Around 80% of women have experienced stomach pain during periods, also known as menstrual cramps at some point in their life. Usually, menstrual cramp pain is mild. But sometimes it can be severe. The pains can vary from sharp stabs that make you double over to a nagging pain that spreads through the lower abdomen and lower back. Some women also experience dizziness, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting.
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What Is Are Menstrual Cramps
Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for pain with your period or menstrual cramps. There are two types of dysmenorrhea: primary and secondary.
Primary dysmenorrhea is the name for common menstrual cramps that come back over and over again and arent due to other diseases. Pain usually begins one or two days before you get your period or when bleeding actual starts. You may feel pain ranging from mild to severe in the lower abdomen, back or thighs.
Pain can typically last 12 to 72 hours, and you might have other symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and even diarrhea. Common menstrual cramps may become less painful as you get older and may stop entirely if you have a baby.
If you have painful periods because of a disorder or an infection in your female reproductive organs, it is called secondary dysmenorrhea. Pain from secondary dysmenorrhea usually begins earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasts longer than common menstrual cramps. You usually dont have nausea, vomiting, fatigue or diarrhea.
How To Stop Period Cramps
Dealing with cramps every month can be as frustrating as it is painful. Luckily, there are a many remedies that might help you relieve period cramps. Its important to remember that these techniques wont always work, especially for chronic conditions, but they can offer relief for mild to moderate period pain.
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The Sunshine Of Vitamin D
Cramps associated with dysmenorrhea can be disabling. Painful cramps associated with dysmenorrhea occur due to increasing levels of prostaglandins, which cause the uterus to contract. These contractions cause the shedding of the uterine lining. Vitamin D reduces the production of prostaglandins. In one study of young women who had primary dysmenorrhea and low vitamin D levels, high weekly doses of supplemental vitamin D decreased pain intensity significantly both 8 weeks into treatment and 1 month after the end of treatment. The women taking vitamin D also took less pain medication to treat period pain. You can ask your doctor to measure your vitamin D levels with a simple blood test.
Treating Other Menstrual Symptoms
Below are several dietary and lifestyle tips that could help to alleviate GI symptoms and other menstrual symptoms.
- Exercising regularly: Keep up regular exercise throughout the month, especially aerobic activity that raises the heart rate.
- Avoiding certain ingredients: Avoiding foods and drinks that contain caffeine, salt, or sugar for 2 weeks before a period may help to reduce PMS symptoms.
- Getting a good nights sleep: Ensure regular, good-quality sleep, and aim for 8 hours each night. This may help to alleviate mood-related menstrual symptoms.
- Reducing stress and anxiety: Activities such as yoga, meditation, and journaling may help to ease stress-related GI symptoms.
- Avoiding smoking: People should avoid smoking. According to the Office On Womenâs Health, smoking may increase the severity and frequency of pre-menstrual symptoms. Learn more about quitting smokinghere.
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Treatment Of Menstrual Cramps
- Regular exercise, such as walking
- Avoiding constipation
- Heating pad or hot water bottle applied to the abdomen
- Ideally, medicines should be started before the pain becomes severe, or in anticipation of the pain, it may be started one or two days before the onset of menstruation, to give best results. For mild pain, aspirin or acetaminophen can be used, but for moderate to severe pain, medicines such as ibuprofen, ketoprofen, naproxen, or mefenamic acid are more effective.
- Low-dose oral contraceptives and insertion of IUD containing small amounts of the progesterone levonorgestrel may be effective in managing severe cramps.
- Dilatation and curettage , or endometrial ablation .
- Hysterectomy or surgical removal of the uterus is the most extreme measure to get relief from menstrual cramps.
- For secondary dysmenorrhea, the underlying cause should be identified and treatment done accordingly.
Issue #: Your Stomach Aches
What?: Above and beyond the usual uterine cramping, you also have some stomach cramping.
Whyyy?: Stomach cramps during your period can be traced back to prostaglandins , who are causing your bowels to forcefully contract. However, sometimes, nausea and stomach aches during your period can be a sign of endometriosis, a medical disorder where your uterine lining tissue grows outside of the uterus.
Can You Make It Stop?: If your period-related stomach aches are regular, and accompanied by terrible menstrual cramps and other symptoms like pain during sex or pain while you poop, talk to your doctor about endometriosis. There are treatments available for the disorder, so you definitely don’t have to live your life in constant poopy period pain.
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Care Advice For Menstrual Cramps
How Do I Know If My Cramps Are Severe
Menstrual cramps feel like a throbbing or cramping pain in your lower abdomen. You may also feel pressure or a continuous dull ache in the area. The pain may radiate to your lower back and inner thighs.
Cramps usually begin a day or two before your period, peaking around 24 hours after your period starts. They typically last for two to three days.
Menstrual cramps can be accompanied by other symptoms, including:
- spotting between periods
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Coping With Period Pain
There are a number of simple ways to ease the discomfort.
What Causes Period Pain
If you experience chronic painful periods, its only natural to wonder why. Maybe youre the only woman in your family who gets severe cramps. Maybe your painful periods didnt start until your twenties. Whatever your situation, a doctor can help you understand why you get painful cramps every month. Some of the most common causes of painful periods are:
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How Does Secondary Dysmenorrhea Cause Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual pain from secondary dysmenorrhea is a result of problems with the reproductive organs. Conditions that can cause cramping include:
- Endometriosis: A condition in which the tissue lining the uterus is found outside of the uterus. Because these pieces of tissue bleed during your period, they can cause swelling, scarring and pain.
- Adenomyosis: A condition where the lining of the uterus grows into the muscle of the uterus. This condition can cause the uterus to get much bigger than it should be, along with abnormal bleeding and pain.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease : An infection caused by bacteria that starts in the uterus and can spread to other reproductive organs. PID can cause pain in the stomach or pain during sex.
- Cervical stenosis: Narrowing of the cervix, or the opening to the uterus.
- Fibroids : Growths on the inside, outside or in the walls of the uterus