What’s next? You guessed it! The last of our period symptoms: period pain 😩
Many women experience painful periods, otherwise known as dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea usually begins right before, or directly as your period starts and is characterised by:
• Throbbing/cramping pain in the lower abdomen • Lower back/hip ache that can even extend to the legs
• Heaviness/pain in the pelvis • Deep vaginal/cervical pain - often more of a ‘stabbing’/sharp pain There are two types of dysmenorrhea - these are known as primary and secondary.
Primary dysmenorrhea is period pain that occurs at the beginning of, or immediately prior to your period that lasts one or two days. It is pain that can be managed and has little to no impact on your ability to undertake daily activities. This type of period pain is mainly caused by the increase in the hormone prostaglandins - which causes the uterine muscles to contract and tighten. Secondary dysmenorrhea however is characterised by pain that sometimes begins a few days prior to your period and may continue once your period has ended. It is often debilitating and impedes on your ability to function and participate in regular daily activities. This type of pain is often associated with or ‘secondary’ to another disease/disorder such as endometriosis, adenomyosis or uterine fibroids (keep your eyes peeled for more posts on these conditions). If your period pain is so severe that it inhibits you from completing your daily activities - please seek medical advice!
So finally, my top tips on beating period pain:
1. Heat! Whether it’s a hot shower, bath or just the old-school hot water bottle - heat therapy is amazing for relieving those period aches!
2. Stay active! Exercise helps release endorphins, which act as a natural pain relief and work wonders on those period cramps.
3. Relax! Meditate, listen to music, do some yoga - whatever it is you need to relax. This will decrease your cortisol levels and increase those endorphins again, ultimately minimising pain.
4. Get on those Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAID’s) early! NSAID’s work to inhibit the production of those awful prostaglandins that are causing you all of this pain, so by taking them as soon as you start feeling the pain (or a day prior if you have a regular cycle) you can get in control early!
5. Hormonal birth control. If your cramps are intense, or you have irregular periods with hectic PMS then this may be a great option for you. Hormonal birth control can work wonders to keep your hormones in check - just make sure to always check with your doctor to make sure it’s right for you!