Period pain is common and for most women, it is a normal part of the menstrual cycle. The pain can be experienced as abdominal cramps that spread to the back and thighs, pain that comes as spasms, or a constant dull ache or pain around the pelvic region. Dizziness, bloating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea can also accompany the pain.
Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for painful periods. Period pains that started from your first period or shortly after and without a known cause is called primary dysmenorrhoea. Period pain caused by certain reproductive disorders such as endometriosis, adenomyosis or fibroids is known as secondary dysmenorrhoea The first-line treatment is to take ibuprofen or paracetamol. If this doesn’t help then the doctor can prescribe stronger painkillers such as naproxen, co-codamol or mefenamic acid. If there has been no improvement, contraceptive pills can also be considered as they help to regulate periods.
Menorrhagia is severe heavy menstrual bleeding, with or without blood clots, that can last for longer than 7 days. It can really affect your daily activities and can sometimes cause low red blood cell count (anaemia), tiredness, fatigue, and shortness of breath. For heavy vaginal bleeding, your doctor can prescribe medications such as tranexamic or mefenamic acid. This is taken for the first few days of your period to help reduce blood flow. The combined contraceptive pill or the progesterone-only pill may be the next step on the treatment ladder. But if the pills are contra-indicated for you then the hormonal coil can be considered and is also an effective method for long term contraception.
Endometriosis is when the tissue that lines your uterus becomes implanted outside your uterus, most commonly on your fallopian tubes, ovaries, or the lining of your pelvis. The first line pain relief are tablets such as ibuprofen, paracetamol, and codeine-based painkillers. If this does not work, then the contraceptive pill (either combined or progesterone only) or the coil can be considered.
Home treatments that help in some women include heat packs, warm baths, light exercise, relaxation techniques, vitamin supplements (such as vitamin B, calcium, magnesium, and omega 3), and simple painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Reducing your salt, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar intake can also reduce or prevent bloating.