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Two Women Having Fun Sledding In Woods
Two Women Having Fun Sledding In Woods

MENSTRUAL PAIN

What is the menstrual cycle?

A woman’s menstrual cycle is a natural process that generally occurs once every month as the body prepares itself for a possible pregnancy. At the start of each cycle, the uterus begins to develop a soft lining of blood-rich tissue in preparation to receive an egg that will be released from the ovaries (this is called ovulation).29

If fertilized, the egg would develop into a baby. If fertilization does not occur, then the blood-rich lining of the uterus is shed, because it is no longer needed. This is called a period, or menstruation.29

Why menstrual pain occurs

During menstruation, it’s normal to experience some cramping pain in the lower abdomen, which may spread to the lower back and thighs. This is often referred to as period pain or 'dysmenorrhea'.30

The pain occurs as a result of the womb contracting (or squeezing) to remove the lining that it no longer needs, causing the uterus to compress nearby blood vessels and briefly cut off the oxygen supply to the uterus. This causes the release of chemicals such as prostaglandins, which are known to be involved in period pain.30

Most women have some pain during periods. The pain is often mild but, in about 10%–15% women, the pain is severe enough to affect day-to-day activities such as school or work attendance.30,31 

No one really knows why some women are more prone to period pain than others. Some period pain is caused by underlying medical conditions like endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease. It is also thought that some women have a buildup of prostaglandins, causing more severe period pain.30

Woman Lying In Bed With Hot Water Bag And Holding It On Her Belly

References

29. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Your first period (especially for teens). Available at: http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Your-First-Period-Especially-for-Teens. Accessed 3 October, 2016.

30. Patient. Period pain (dysmenorrhoea). Available at: http://patient.info/health/period-pain-dysmenorrhoea. Accessed 3 October, 2016.

31. Milsom I, Minic M, Dawood MY, et al. Comparison of the efficacy and safety of nonprescription doses of naproxen and naproxen sodium with ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and placebo in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a pooled analysis of five studies. Clin Ther 2002; 24:
1384-400.

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Tips for managing menstrual pain

Here are a few tips to help ease period pain:

Heat: Applying heat to the abdomen can help ease menstrual pain. Try placing a heat pad or hot water bottle on the abdomen30,32

Read More

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