About Painful Periods:
Women have periods due to the shedding of inner lining of the uterus, which plays an important role in the reproductive function. However, this condition can be painful for some women. Painful periods is a common complaint of many women and there are many causes of painful periods. It is also important to know the associated symptoms of painful periods, which can help in better management.
Painful periods are commonly associated with menstrual cramps in the abdomen region. Problems like fatigue, severe bleeding, cramps, nausea, backache and other symptoms are common. However, if there is severe pain and bleeding or if the symptoms are unbearable, it is best to seek medical opinion.
Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for painful periods. There are two types of dysmenorrhea, which includes:
- Primary Dysmenorrhea – Primary dysmenorrheal, commonly known as menstrual cramps, usually begin when a female starts having her periods. In this, women experience pain in the abdomen and lower back. The pain is usually mild and may last during the initial days of menstruation and gradually declines. It may resolve after the birth of a child, in many cases.
- Secondary dysmenorrhea – In this, painful periods present with severe pain in the reproductive organs with associated symptoms. Pain starts from the initial stage of menstrual cycle, and prevails even after its completion. This condition may be a result of another underlying problem.
Causes of Painful Periods
The main reason of menstruation or periods is that, as there is no sperm available for the fertilization of egg, the uterus contracts and leads to shedding of inner lining. This process causes pain, which is one of the major causes of painful periods. Hormones play an important role in menstrual cycle. Periods occur with the action of a hormonal substance, called prostaglandins. This substance is directly associated with inflammation and pain. This is yet another cause of painful periods. Different substances like leukotrienes are also known to increase during menstruation, which are important causes of menstrual cramps.
Some of the other triggers and prominent causes of painful periods are the lack of sleep and irregularity of menstrual cycles. Various researchers have proven that women experience different complications, due to irregular periods.
Here are some medical conditions which are the prominent causes of painful periods.
- Tumors and uterine fibroids can cause menstrual cramps during periods.
- Endometriosis is condition in which a thin lining is developed on the outer region of the uterus. A common cause of painful periods.
- When a tissue of uterus lining develops on the muscular walls, the condition is termed as adenomyosis, which can cause menstrual cramps.
- Another cause of painful periods is sexually transmitted disease, pelvic inflammatory diseases, which occur due to infections.
- When the menstrual flow is slow due to a small opening of cervix, then it can possibly cause painful periods.
Painful periods are more common during the teenage years, especially when a young girl starts having her periods initially. Primary dysmenorrhea is a condition when there is menstrual pain, without any physical affects. This is very common in women during puberty and the initial years of menstruation. After few years, when the hormonal balance is stabilized, the intensity of the pain gradually reduces.
On the other hand, secondary dysmenorrhea is a condition when menstrual cramps are accompanied by physical causes as well. When a female undergoes several medical conditions, like cryotherapy, radiation, cautery, IUD insertion, then it is slight more probable that she experiences higher intensity of menstrual cramps. These are the common causes of painful periods due to some underlying problems.
Symptoms of Painful Periods
There are different indications or symptoms of painful periods, which include,
- Pain in the uterine and surrounding areas is the commonest symptom of painful periods.
- Lower back region and hips along with inner region of thighs are the common regions where women commonly experience pain during periods.
- As the abdominal region experiences pressure during menstrual cycle, it results in pain in the area.
- Other commonly associated symptoms of painful periods include nausea, vomiting, gastric upset, bloating and sometimes even diarrhea.
Problems likes constipation, headache, dizziness, and fainting are also some of the symptoms of painful periods. Many women also experience emotional symptoms like mood swings, increased irritability or depression during this phase. The time of menstrual cramps is considered very critical for women which is why, it is very important that the family should provide their support so that she can easily cope up with the painful challenges.
Women also experience irritability, fatigue, headache, gastric disturbances and sleep problems before the arrival of periods. This is called the premenstrual syndrome. If women experience this and are worried about the painful periods, it is advisable to consult an expert gynecologist, to avoid problems in future. After knowing the causes and symptoms of painful periods you can be aware of the condition and seek medical advice, as appropriate.
- Mayo Clinic. (2022). Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menstrual-cramps/symptoms-causes/syc-20374938
- Cleveland Clinic. (2020). Dysmenorrhea (Painful Periods). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4241-dysmenorrhea-painful-periods
- Womenshealth.gov. (2022). Painful Periods (Dysmenorrhea). https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/period-problems/painful-periods-dysmenorrhea
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2020). Dysmenorrhea: Painful Periods. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/dysmenorrhea-painful-periods