How to manage painful periods
Painful periods and menstrual cramps are called dysmenorrhea. They are common problems, but may affect some women more seriously than others.
Some women don’t have much trouble at all with their periods, while others have so much pain they need to miss work or school, Also everybody’s pain tolerance is different.
One of the most common causes of menstrual cramps is uterine muscle contractions. The uterine muscles contract to help shed the lining of the uterus, and to control the amount of bleeding. The contractions are triggered by hormones called prostaglandins that are released by the body.
How do you manage painful menstrual periods?
1. Your lifestyle choices
Some lifestyle modifications can help manage painful periods.
Various studies have shown that exercising three times per week can decrease menstrual pain, and also improve mood and stress levels.
In contrast, smoking has been linked to increased menstrual pain.
So some of the modifiable things that women can do to manage menstrual pain include exercising, not smoking, using heat packs, and including vitamin B and fish in their diet.
2. Take medication
For treating menstrual cramps, over-the-counter medications are a good place to start. These include acetaminophen, as well as anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
Anti-inflammatory medications are helpful because they actually block the production of prostaglandins, which trigger the uterine contractions that cause the pain.
Doctors recommend starting medication as soon as any cramping begins, even if it’s before their period starts so as to decrease both the bleeding as well as the pain.
Its also important to take an effective dose. Some studies have found that women may not be taking enough over-the-counter medication; they’re not reaching the recommended dose.
Read the label to find the recommended dose, as well as the suggested timing of doses.
3. Try other options
If over-the-counter medication is not managing the pain, then you should see your doctor to talk about other management options, or to rule out medical conditions that might be causing the pain.
Birth control pills, or other hormonal contraceptives, can often relieve painful periods.
The most common secondary cause of painful periods is endometriosis. If you’re having extremely painful periods then you may want to see your doctor to rule out the under-lying issue of endometriosis.