By Dr. Yuthika Bajpai Sharma, Gynaecology
What causes period pains?
Period cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea, are caused as a result of contractions of the uterine walls that inhibit the flow of blood to the endometrium (innermost lining of the uterus). Certain chemical mediators such as lprostaglandins are secreted in excess which may contribute further to pain and cramps during periods. The pain experienced during or after periods can be mainly characterised by a dull or a sharp pain in the lower part of the abdomen. Not every individual suffers from painful periods, but it when it does, it can get particularly annoying and painful. There are two broad types of painful periods:
- Primary dysmenorrhea- This type is the most common and is characterised by dull or severe pain in the lower abdomen or lower back. These pains usually do not indicate anything serious.
- Secondary dysmenorrhea- There may be an underlying condition such as uterine fibroids or cysts.
Flag Signs For Underlying Pathology-
- Any pain which interferes your daily chores like missing school college social gatherings due to period pain .
- If the Pain begins a few days before the bleeding starts.
- Worsening of pain over a period of time eg “My pain is worse this year than last year’.
- Pain continues throughout period days
Why Do Some Girls Get Cramps?
Lots of girls have abdominal cramps during the first few days of their periods. Cramps are most likely caused by prostaglandins, chemicals your body produces that make the muscles of the uterus contract. The good news is that cramps usually only last a few days. But if you’re in pain, medicine like ibuprofen might help.
Exercise also can make you feel better, possibly because it releases endorphins, chemicals in the body that literally make you feel good. Soaking in a warm bath or putting a warm compress on your stomach won’t make your cramps disappear but may help your muscles relax a little.
If you have severe cramps that keep you home from school or from doing stuff with your friends, or if over the counter medications aren’t working, visit your doctor for advice.
How to deal with period’s pain?
Menstrual cramps can be very painful and annoying. It can cause disruptions in your day to day activities. Here are a few tips on how to deal with menstrual cramps:
- IMPROVE YOUR DIET: Making certain dietary changes like incorporating less fat and more vegetables in your meals can help relieve monthly cramps. A low-fat diet reduces inflammation in the body and as a result, can help alleviate pain.
- DRINKING TEA CAN CALM PAIN: There is not much research available on the effectiveness of herbal tea in relieving menstrual pain, but traditional teas that include peppermint oil have been proven to show some effect on cramps if consumed a week or two before the periods commence.
- USE ESSENTIAL OILS FOR MASSAGE: Massages using certain essential oils, for example, lavender, marjoram and clary sage, have shown to decrease the duration pain; from 3 days to 1 day. You can massage a small quantity of the abovementioned oils (in a diluted form) to the lower abdominal area everyday during your periods.
- USE A HOT BAG: Applying heat to the lower abdomen can reduce the pain within half an hour. The effect of hot water bag synergises the effect of painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol in reducing and easing cramps.