Menstruation (periods), occurs when the uterus sheds its lining once a month. During a menstrual cycle, one can expect to have some cramps, pain and discomfort. However, excessive period pain that makes you miss school, sports, office or even household activities is not normal.
Pain during menstruation is called dysmenorrhea. Apart from menstrual pain, having one or more of the following symptoms every month is also an indication of dysmenorrhea:
- Pain that radiates to the lower back or thighs
- Dull continuous ache
- Lightheadedness (Feeling very dizzy or a feeling that you’ll faint)
- Large or small blood clots in your periods
- Bloating in your belly area
- Nausea (Feeling to vomit/ throw-up)
- Vomiting (Throwing up)
- Loose bowel movements (Loose motions or feeling like diarrhea)
- Mood swings
The main cause of dysmenorrhea is an excess production of prostaglandins, which help the uterus expel the lining, and are the body’s natural response to healing. The level of prostaglandins rises right before menstruation begins and an excess production of prostaglandins makes your periods very painful. Hence, painful periods are not normal.
Some gynaecological conditions which may contribute to severity of dysmenorrhea include:
- Fibroids in the uterus
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
When menstrual pain causes you to miss school or skip household work, it is time to talk to your gynaecologist. Download and print this Period Pain Symptoms Poster to start a conversation with your doctor.
Do you have any of the following questions?
- What is the cause of dysmenorrhea?
- What are prostaglandins?
- Is dysmenorrhea dangerous?
- How to prevent dysmenorrhea?
Disclaimer: The contents of this blog have been simplified to enable an elementary understanding of dysmenorrhea (painful periods). This blog does not constitute medical advice.