Periods always accompany mild pain and discomfort. For some, periods can be very painful and can disrupt their day-to-day life. They are one of the most common causes of pelvic pain and people usually experience them before or during periods. The pain is caused by uterine contractions that your body initiates to shed the endometrial lining.
People who experience menstrual cramps might describe them as throbbing or cramping pain in the lower abdomen. It can also feel like pressure or dull pain in the area. The pain can extend up to the lower back and thighs. For many women, this discomfort and pain might last for the first two or three days of their cycle but for others, it might exist for longer periods. The pain and cramps can also accompany other symptoms like nausea, fatigue, watery stools and headache.
What might be causing painful cramps?
During periods, your uterus usually contracts to shed off the endometrial lining and the unfertilized egg from your body. These contractions are often triggered by hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins. Higher levels of this chemical are associated with severe menstrual cramps. Pain associated with menstruation is called dysmenorrhea. It can be primary or secondary. The former is primarily caused by the muscle contractions caused by prostaglandins and might lessen with time. The latter is usually caused when there is some problem with your reproductive parts. Conditions like endometriosis (endometrial growth outside the uterus) can cause heavy periods, painful bowel movements, gastrointestinal pain and other symptoms. Other conditions like PCOS, fibroids (non-cancerous growth outside the uterus) and pelvic inflammatory conditions can cause heavy menstrual bleeding and menstrual cramping.
How to know if you are having severe menstrual cramps?
Heavy menstrual cramps usually tend to begin earlier during the periods and might continue for a long period. Generally, severe menstrual cramps are those that don’t improve with OTC painkillers, interfere with day-to-day activities, and are often accompanied by heavy bleeding and clotting.
What can you do for relief?
If your periods are often painful, and heavy and you might experience discomforting menstrual cramps, it might be a good idea to get it checked with your doctor. The following are a few things that you could do for relief-
Doing a little bit of exercise
Using a heating pad
Doing yoga and breathing exercises
Taking OTC medication.