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Tips for Managing Menstrual Pain

Posted on September 25, 2023 at 9:23 AM by Gabrielson Clinic

For many women, menstrual pain, or period cramps, are a common occurrence. But what causes period cramps, and how can you prevent and treat them? Most importantly, how do you decide when to see a doctor for your menstrual pain?

What Causes Period Cramps?

When you get your period, a group of lipids called prostaglandins trigger muscle contractions in the uterus. These contractions are what help the uterus shed its lining, and they’re also what causes period cramps. Experts aren’t sure why some people experience more menstrual pain than others, but it may have something to do with higher levels of prostaglandins.

Symptoms of Period Cramps

Cramps often begin a day or two before your period and subside after about two or three days.

Symptoms can vary from person to person but frequently include:

  • Pain in your abdomen, ranging from a dull ache to a sharp or throbbing pain
  • Pain that radiates into your hips, lower back, thighs, and legs
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Nausea and vomiting

How to Manage Pain at Home

There are a variety of ways to treat menstrual pain at home. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Asprin and Ibuprofen can provide pain relief, and other pain relief methods include:

  • Heat: Placing a heating pad, heating patch, or hot water bottle where you have cramps can help ease the pain. A hot bath or shower can also be beneficial.
  • Exercise: If you’re able, physical activity can help with menstrual cramps.
  • Stay nourished and hydrated, and get plenty of rest.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, which can worsen pain and cramping.

When to See a Doctor

Although half of women who menstruate experience menstrual pain, it’s important to know when to see a doctor. If your period cramps are disrupting your everyday activities, or you’re unable to manage your pain at home, it’s time to talk to a doctor. Severe menstrual pain can be a sign of a more serious underlying issue, such as fibroids, ovarian cysts, or endometriosis.

Understanding typical menstrual pain is the first step to knowing when something isn’t right. You don’t have to suffer through abnormal menstrual pain. The experienced healthcare team at the Gabrielson Clinic for Women is here to help you get the pain relief you deserve.

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