We’ve all been there, haven’t we? One moment you’re living your best life, and the next, you’re doubled over in agony courtesy of your monthly menstrual cycle. Oh, the joys of womanhood!
There’s no question that periods can be a literal pain, but why must they be so excruciating? And more importantly, is there something we can do about it?
These questions are particularly poignant if you’re tired of the usual hot-water-bottle-and-Netflix routine.
To help you make that time of the month easier, we’ve created below a comprehensive guide to understanding period pain, why it occurs, and how to improve it. Let’s take a look!
What are painful periods?
Medically known as ‘dysmenorrhoea,’ painful periods can manifest as anything from a mild annoyance to debilitating pain. These symptoms typically occur in the lower abdomen or back and can start days before your period and last throughout its duration.
The pain can feel like a constant ache or come in intense waves. And just for an extra treat, you may also experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, and even headache. Yeah, it’s not exactly the best time of the month, is it?
What causes painful periods?
So, what causes painful periods? Here are some of the most common causes:
Your body’s own hormones are often the lead culprits behind the pain you experience during your period. Two hormones, prostaglandins and leukotrienes, are released during menstruation, causing contractions in your uterus. These contractions can result in cramping and discomfort, which we experience as period pain.
This is a medical condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. These growths can cause intense pain during menstruation as they bleed in the same way as the uterine lining.
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths in the uterus that can cause significant discomfort during periods. Their size and location within the uterus determine the severity of the pain.
This condition occurs when the tissue that lines the uterus grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. This can cause longer, more painful periods and significantly lower abdominal pressure.
The list goes on, but these are some of the most common causes. The crucial point here is that not all period pain is created equal, and while for many of us it’s a nuisance, for others, it’s a symptom of a more significant health issue.
Are painful periods serious?
Although period pain is extremely common, very painful periods can indeed be serious. While for many women, the pain is simply a symptom of their menstrual cycle, for others, it can be a sign of an underlying health issue such as endometriosis or fibroids, as we mentioned earlier.
If the pain is severe enough to affect your daily life, it’s important to seek medical advice to determine if there is a more serious cause – the pain shouldn’t be underestimated or ignored! After all, you deserve a life that isn’t disrupted by agonizing cramps every month.
How to Improve Period Pain
It might be the last thing on your mind when you’re in the throes of menstrual misery, but regular exercise can actually help alleviate period pain. Whether it’s a gentle yoga flow or a brisk walk around the block, exercise releases endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers. Over time, regular activity can reduce the severity of your cramps.
Applying heat to your lower abdomen can help relax the muscles and ease the pain. This can be in the form of a hot water bottle, heat wrap, or a warm bath. It’s a tried-and-true method that provides immediate relief for many.
Certain dietary choices can exacerbate menstrual cramps, and processed foods, high-sodium snacks, and caffeinated drinks can all increase bloating and discomfort. On the other hand, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can alleviate symptoms and even reduce the intensity of your cramps.
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Non-prescription painkillers like ibuprofen or naproxen can be effective in reducing period pain. These medications work by blocking the production of prostaglandins, those pesky hormones that cause painful uterine contractions.
Techniques such as deep-breathing exercises, meditation, or even acupuncture can help manage period pain. They help to decrease tension and promote relaxation, thereby reducing the severity of the cramps.
When to See a Doctor
If your period pain doesn’t improve with over-the-counter medication, or if it’s so severe that it disrupts your daily activities, it’s time to see a doctor. Persistent pain could indicate an underlying condition that needs to be treated.
Excessively heavy bleeding, also known as menorrhagia, or periods lasting more than seven days, should be a cause for concern. These could be symptoms of a more serious condition and definitely warrant a visit to the GP.
If you experience other symptoms like irregular periods, severe PMS, fertility issues, or pain during sex, these could be signs of underlying health problems such as PCOS or endometriosis. Don’t brush these off; seek medical help.
How Period Boxes Can Help
By now, we hope you’re curious about these magical period boxes we’ve been alluding to. These are personalised boxes that arrive at your doorstep, packed with essentials tailored to your menstrual needs. Here are a few ways these boxes can be a game-changer:
Customised Supplements: Each woman is unique, and so is her period, which is why many period subscription boxes – such as Yoppie – often come with customised supplements designed to help alleviate your specific period symptoms. Think of them as your little health-boosting allies.
Comfort Goodies: Whether it’s heat pads for cramps, organic sanitary products, or even chocolates for those cravings, period boxes come stocked with comforting goodies to help you navigate that time of the month.
Information and Support: Many boxes also come with informative booklets or access to online resources to help educate you about your period and what you can do to manage it better.
In short, period boxes aim to make your menstrual cycle a less daunting, more manageable experience. Why not take a look at our article on the best period boxes in the UK – from CBD-enhanced tampons to monthly care packages including skincare treats, a subscription box can be a great way to improve your monthly cycle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a woman’s period change over time?
Absolutely! A woman’s period can change due to factors like age, stress, hormonal changes, and lifestyle modifications. This can affect the cycle’s length, flow, and even the intensity of pain or PMS symptoms.
Are painful periods genetic?
There’s some evidence to suggest that painful periods can run in families, but lifestyle and health factors also play a significant role.
Can stress make period pain worse?
Yes, stress can exacerbate period pain. This is because stress can disrupt your hormone balance, leading to more painful periods. It’s essential to manage stress through relaxation techniques or seek help if it becomes overwhelming.
Does using birth control help alleviate period pain?
Many women find relief from period pain using hormonal birth control methods such as the pill, the patch, or the hormonal IUD. These methods can help regulate the menstrual cycle and often result in lighter and less painful periods. However, it’s important to discuss with a healthcare provider to find the best solution for you.
Are period boxes cost-effective?
While the upfront cost of a period box might be higher than purchasing individual items, the personalised approach, convenience, and variety of products often make it cost-effective in the long run.
Can I use period boxes if I have a specific medical condition like PCOS or Endometriosis?
Period boxes are designed to offer comfort and support during your period, but they’re not a substitute for medical treatment. If you have a condition like PCOS or Endometriosis, it’s crucial to follow your healthcare provider’s advice. That said, some products included in a personalised period box – such as supplements – can complement your treatment plan, but they’re not meant to replace it.