It's common knowledge: periods hurt! But why? What are the reasons for these menstrual pains affecting 50 to 80% of women? How can they be relieved? Are they a sign of a more serious problem? We will try to answer all your questions in this article.
What is a painful period?
Periods last between 2 and 7 days each month for several decades. This is not a small amount of time. During all these years, the sensations felt during each cycle can vary and be more or less unpleasant.
Also called dysmenorrhea, painful periods are caused by contractions of the uterus. It is an abnormal menstrual disorder, to better understand it, let's quickly go back to the way menstruation works:
- During the cycle, the uterus is preparing to receive an embryo. The inner lining, the endometrium, thickens;
- If there is no fertilization, the endometrium is expelled, it is the blood of the period;
- To allow the expulsion of the endometrium, the uterus contracts. These contractions are painful. They are caused by hormones: prostaglandins.
Painful periods can be primary or secondary:
- Primary: they occur during adolescence. At the time of the first cycles, the quantity of prostaglandins secreted by the body can be too high, which causes strong pains. This phenomenon is unpleasant, but generally not serious;
- Secondary: menstrual pain appears later, after several cycles. This can be a sign of a problem, so it is necessary to consult a doctor or gynecologist to find the cause of these painful periods.
My period is painful: is it normal?
As explained above, period pain is not uncommon. It is caused by the contraction of the uterus to eliminate the endometrium. So it's normal... to a certain extent. If the pain is so intense that it becomes disabling, it is not normal. You should see your gynecologist.
What are the symptoms of painful periods?
In addition to pain during your period, there areother symptoms to watch out for. If you experience them, see your doctor to make sure they are not a sign of a more serious problem:
- Severe pelvic pain in the lower abdomen, which may radiate to the back, perineum, abdomen or rectum;
- Very severe cramping;
- Spasms ;
- Iron anemia.
What causes painful periods?
Painful periods are caused by the contractions of the uterus thanks to prostaglandins, but they can haveother more worrying sources.
It can be a sign ofgenital infections, such as fungus, or ofinappropriate hormonal contraception.
It can also be caused by polyps in the uterus or ovarian disorders.
In the most serious cases, painful periods can be caused by endometriosis. This disease is characterized by a development of uterine mucous membrane where it should not be: the fallopian tubes, the ovaries, the vagina, the bladder or the abdominal cavity.
How can painful periods be relieved?
In most cases, there are solutions to relieve painful periods. You can even choose between medicated or natural methods.
A hot water bottle can greatly ease the pain, as the heat relaxes the muscles of the uterine wall, which are particularly strained. You can also try relaxation or meditation exercises to work on your breath. Contrary to what you might think, sport is an ally. It helps to maintain mobility, but also the elasticity of tissues. Finally, diet plays a key role. We recommendavoiding refined sugar, caffeine oralcohol during menstruation. It is important to take vitamins, magnesium and calcium.
To soothe period-related pain, you can take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. We recommendavoiding aspirin. It thins the blood and therefore promotes bleeding. Another solution is to take or change pills. Some pills are uninterrupted and "suppress" the period. There are no more contractions of the uterus, so no more pain.
When should I see a doctor about painful periods?
When your period becomes very painful even though you have been menstruating for several years, you should consult a doctor. The same applies if these pains are accompanied by other symptoms. Listen to your body and do not wait too long if you have the slightest doubt.
We remind you that you should go to your gynecologist once a year fora check-up. Even if there is no problem, an examination will confirm that everything is fine.
What is the difference between painful periods and endometriosis
Endometriosis affects about 10% of women in France. Learning to recognize the different symptoms is the key to making a diagnosis as quickly as possible in order to treat endometriosis as well as possible.
The symptoms of endometriosis
Although pain during your period does not necessarily have to worry you, there are certain signs that can point you towards endometriosis:
- Cyclical or even systematic pain;
- They are resistant to painkillers;
- They prevent you from going about your daily life normally (getting up, going to work, going to school, seeing your family, etc.).
Endometriosis isoften accompanied by very heavy periods. There may also be bleeding outside of the period.
Diagnosing endometriosis with a gynecologist
To find out if you have endometriosis, you need to see a gynecologist. He or she will perform several tests to find out. In particular, he or she may prescribe an ultrasound or an MRI for a complete assessment. It is often by eliminating all other possible causes that the diagnosis of endometriosis is confirmed.
It is a condition that is frequently detected late. If there is no definitive treatment for endometriosis, the same methods of relief used for painful periods are valid. Sometimes surgery is performed to remove excess uterine lining.
How to manage blood loss during painful periods?
Painful periods are common, at least during part of the period. However, if the pain is particularly severe or worsens, you should consult your doctor. It may be a sign of an infection or a disease such as endometriosis.
To gain maximum comfort during painful periods, trust menstrual panties. They offer optimal comfort so as not to accentuate the pain. Moreover, several models are available in various sizes and come in 3 flows, light, intermediate or heavy.
For each Elia menstrual panty purchased, we donate a portion of the profits to an association fighting against endometriosis.
The FAQ of painful periods
What causes painful periods?
Painful periods are caused by the contractions of the uterus to evacuate blood from the uterine wall.
How can I relieve painful periods?
To relieve the pain, you can take painkillers. You can also use a hot water bottle to relax the muscles. In some cases, the pill can be prescribed or changed.
Why are my periods getting more painful?
Periods are not supposed to get more painful. It may be a sign of a problem. In this case, see your gynecologist right away.
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