Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual cramps can range from a mild nuisance lasting a day or two to several days of unbearable pain that interferes with everyday activities. They’re one of the most common causes of pelvic pain and many experiences them just before and during their period. The pain is caused by uterine contractions that happen just before or during the onset of your period. But what makes the pain more severe for some people?

Menstrual cramps feel like a throbbing or cramping pain in your lower abdomen. You may also feel pressure or a continuous dull ache in the area. The pain may radiate to your lower back and inner thighs.

Cramps usually begin a day or two before your period, peaking around 24 hours after your period starts. They typically last for two to three days.

What causes cramps?

During your period, your uterus contracts to help shed its lining. These contractions are triggered by hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with more severe menstrual cramps. Some people tend to have more severe menstrual cramps without any clear cause. For others, severe menstrual cramps may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

Endometriosis:

Endometriosis is a condition that causes the tissue that usually lines your uterus to grow in other parts of your body outside your uterus.

Pelvic pain is the most common symptom. Others include:

  • heavy periods.
  • periods that last longer than seven days.
  • bleeding between periods.
  • gastrointestinal pain.
  • pain with intercourse.
  • painful bowel movements.
  • trouble getting pregnant.

Some menstrual cramps Symptoms: 

  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • loose stools
  • headache
  • dizziness

Usually OTC (over the counter) pain relievers such as Aleve, ibuprofen, or Tylenol response well with menstrual cramps. 

Sign of severe cramps:

  • don’t improve when you take OTC pain medications
  • interfere with your daily activities
  • are often accompanied by heavy bleeding or clotting

Ways to manage the pain:

  • heating pad.
  • soak in hot tub.
  • take supplements.
  • keep your stress level low.
  • get regular exercise. 
  • otc (over the counter medication).
  • certain yoga poses.
  • reduce processed foods.
  • increase your hydration.

Avoid certain foods during menstruation:

  • fatty foods
  • alcohol
  • carbonated beverages
  • caffeine
  • salty foods

Reducing or cutting out these foods can help alleviate cramps and decrease tension. Instead, try soothing caffeine-free ginger or mint teas or hot water flavored with lemon. If you need a sugar fix, snack on fruits such as strawberries or raspberries.

When to seek medical attention:

  • the pain consistently prevents you from doing day-to-day activities.
  • the pain worsens, or bleeding gets heavier, over time.
  • you’re over 25 and severe cramps are a new development.
  • otc medication doesn’t work.
References:
https://www.healthline.com/health/pain-relief
https://www.healthline.com/health/severe-menstrual-cramps
https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/menstrual-cramp-remedies#_noHeaderPrefixedContent

 

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