How can i get rid of period cramps: PMS Symptoms | How to Relieve Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms
PMS Symptoms | How to Relieve Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms
Many people get emotional and have cramps before and during their periods. This is sometimes called PMS. Cramps and PMS are normal and can be treated.
What causes cramps?
Menstrual cramps can be really uncomfortable and painful, but they do happen for a reason. During your period, your uterus contracts — meaning it squeezes or cramps up. This makes the lining come off the walls of your uterus and leave your body. When your uterus cramps up, it’s helping the period blood flow out of your vagina.
Most people get cramps during their periods at some point in their lives. They usually feel like throbbing pains in your lower belly. They can start a couple of days before your period comes, and sometimes continue throughout your period. Cramps are usually worse during the first few days of your period, when your flow is the heaviest.
You can get cramps as soon as you get your first period. Your periods may get more or less painful throughout your life. For many people, cramps become less painful as they grow older.
Menstrual cramps can be painful and irritating, but they’re super common and there are lots of ways to treat them.
What helps with cramps?
Here are a some things that can help ease cramps:
Over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Always follow the instructions on the bottle. Talk with your doctor before taking pain medication if you have an allergy to aspirin or severe asthma.
Putting a heating pad on your belly or lower back.
Taking a hot bath.
Having an orgasm (by yourself or with a partner).
Hormonal birth control (like the pill, patch, ring, implant, and hormonal IUD).
Acupuncture and acupressure.
Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) — therapy that uses mild electric currents to stimulate your nerves to relieve pain.
Certain vitamins and herbs like vitamin B1, fish oil, fenugreek, ginger, valerian, zataria, and zinc sulfate.
Cramps are a pretty normal part of getting your period, but sometimes people have period cramps that are so painful it’s hard to do everyday things (like go to school or work). If your period pain is really bad, and over-the-counter medicine doesn’t help, talk with your doctor. They can help with other ways to manage the pain, or they may want to check to see if there’s something more serious going on.
Cramps that are really bad may be a sign of:
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease — an infection in your reproductive organs.
Endometriosis — a condition where the lining of your uterus grows outside of your uterus.
Adenomyosis — when the tissue that lines your uterus grows into the muscle wall of your uterus.
Uterine fibroids — non-cancerous tumors that grow inside your uterus, in the walls of your uterus, or on the outside of your uterus.
Cramps caused by these conditions may start when you’re older. And they might get worse as time passes. They can also last longer than other cramps or last longer than the last day of your period.
If you have super bad cramps that you can’t treat, or other period symptoms that are hard to deal with, call your doctor or local Planned Parenthood health center.
PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome — the emotional and physical symptoms that some people feel right before and during their periods. PMS is caused by the hormonal changes that your body goes through during your menstrual cycle.
Some people get PMS every time they have their periods. Others only get PMS every once in a while. You may have all or just some of the common PMS symptoms. And some people don’t get PMS at all.
There are two main kinds of PMS symptoms: the ones that affect you physically and the ones that affect you emotionally.
Physical symptoms of PMS include:
Craving certain foods or being more hungry than usual
Tender, swollen, or sore breasts
Feeling bloated (puffy or full in your stomach)
Gaining a little weight
Swelling in your hands or feet
Aches and pains in your joints or muscles
Feeling more tired than usual or needing more naps
Skin problems, like pimples
Cramps or pain in your belly
Emotional symptoms of PMS include:
Feeling sad, depressed, tense, or anxious
Feeling more irritable or angry than normal
Not feeling very social or wanting to be around people
Having trouble concentrating
Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
Changes in your desire to have sex
It’s common to have some of these symptoms and not others. For example, you might have bloating and sore breasts, but not mood swings or skin problems. It may also change from month to month: you could be tired and cranky one month but not the next, or have cramps one month but not the next. It’s different for every person.
In order for a doctor to officially diagnose you with PMS, you need to have PMS symptoms for at least 3 months in a row. They must start in the 5 days before your period and interfere with some of your normal activities, like school, work, or exercise. If you think you may have PMS, keep a record of your period and symptoms each day for at least 2-3 months. You can use a calendar or our app to track your PMS symptoms.
Other conditions, like depression and anxiety, perimenopause, and thyroid disease can act like PMS, so visiting a doctor is the only way to know for sure what’s going on.
Some people have really severe PMS that’s called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). PMDD symptoms can be really scary and may include feeling out of control, depressed, having panic attacks, or even feeling suicidal. If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of PMDD, see a doctor as soon as possible.
What I can do to relieve PMS?
Many of the things that help ease cramps can also help with PMS. Here are some different ways to relieve PMS symptoms:
Take over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Always follow the instructions on the bottle. Talk with your doctor before taking pain medication if you have an allergy to aspirin or severe asthma.
Do aerobic exercise, like walking, running, riding a bike, swimming, or any activity that gets your heart rate up. Regular exercise (at least 30 minutes most days of the week) is ideal.
Do breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga.
Get plenty of rest. Sleeping regularly every night can help with stress, mood changes, and feeling tired or fatigued.
Eat healthy foods like fruits, veggies (especially the leafy green ones), whole grains, and yogurt.
Limit fat, salt, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
Make sure you get enough vitamins in your diet, or take vitamin supplements. If you don’t get enough calcium, take a supplement of 1200 mg of calcium daily. Magnesium and Vitamin E might also help.
Use hormonal birth control (like the pill, patch, ring, implant, and hormonal IUD). Your doctor can help you find a birth control method that can help with PMS.
Was this page helpful?
Help us improve – how could this information be more helpful?
How did this information help you?
You’re the best! Thanks for your feedback.
Thanks for your feedback.
How to Get Rid of Menstrual Cramps
1) Getty Images
2) Getty Images
3) Getty Images
4) Getty Images
5) Amie Brink
6) Getty Images
7) Getty Images
8) Getty Images
9) Amie Brink
10) Getty Images
11) Getty Images
12) Getty Images
13) Getty Images
University of Columbia: Go Ask Alice. “Foods that minimize menstrual cramps?”
FDA: “Sodium in Your Diet: Using the Nutrition Facts Label to Reduce Your Intake.”
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: “Using Foods Against Menstrual Pain.”
UC Davis, Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS): “Dysmenorrhea.”
Center for Young Women’s Health. “Menstrual cramps.”
Blakey, H. BJOC, published online May 14, 2009.
Institute for Integrative Healthcare: “How You Can Help Treat Menstrual Pain.”
Lawrewnce, A. Preventive Medicine Clinics of the Desert: “Alternative Treatments of Dysmenorrhea.”
Dennehy, C.E. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, Nov-Dec 2006.
Arthritis Foundation: “Turmeric.”
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Evening Primrose Oil.”
University of Maryland Medical Center: “Menstrual pain.”
Chung, Y. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, published online March 19, 2012.
Modern Reflexology: “Top 9 Acupressure Points to Treat Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). “
Azima, S. Journal of Pediatric & Adolescent Gynecology, published online March 4, 2015.
Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States: “Menstruation sequence at RIMYI.”
Yoga Journal: “Menstruation + Inversion Confusion.”
National Sleep Foundation: “Six Sleep Problems That Occur During Your Period (And What To Do To Make Them Go Away).”
NHS Choices: “Painful periods (dysmenorrhoea).”
10 Home Remedies for Menstrual or Period Cramp Relief
How to Tell if Your Period Cramping Is Normal
Each girl or woman typically experiences a similar level of cramps from one month to the next, says Jackie Thielen, MD, an internist and women’s health specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. For some women, monthly pain is minor. For others, it can be quite debilitating.
The main question doctors ask when determining whether your cramps are normal is “Are they normal for you?” Dr. Thielen says.
RELATED: Heavy Bleeding and Bad Periods: When to See a Doctor
Can Bad Period Cramps Be a Sign of Something Else?
Period cramps usually don’t signify that something is wrong with your health. But in some cases they can be a symptom of a medical condition:
- Endometriosis This disorder occurs when tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus grows outside your uterus, often adhering to your bladder, ovaries, or even your bowels.
- Uterine Fibroids These are noncancerous growths that emerge inside the uterine walls. They can range in size from one tiny speck to several bulky masses.
- Adenomyosis Tissue that normally lines the uterus begins to grow inside the organ’s muscle wall.
Pain from these conditions may seem like period pain, but it typically lasts longer and can be more severe than your usual menstrual cramps.
If you experience this type of pain, it’s important to see your doctor, Thielen says.
RELATED: Signs and Symptoms of Endometriosis
Can You Heal Menstrual Cramps With Home Remedies?
Most of the time, menstrual cramps can be treated by women at home.
But if your pain is severe and impacts your lifestyle, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor. You might need medicines that are only available by prescription or some other treatment to help.
To help reduce period pain, here are 10 safe and effective home remedies for menstrual cramp relief.
1. Try Some Yoga Poses to Ease Menstrual Pain
Whether it’s the stretching of your muscles or the relaxing effect of the poses, a regular yoga practice can indeed help your cramps.
When 20 undergraduate students did an hour-long yoga program once a week for three months, they had less menstrual cramping and period distress than 20 women who didn’t, according to researchers for a study published in September 2016 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
The Journal of Physiotherapy review that sanctioned heating pads also found benefits for yoga.
You can practice during your period or between them, but some instructors advise women against doing inverted poses (like a shoulder stand) in the midst of menstruation, so as not interfere with your natural flow.
RELATED: 5 Simple Yoga Moves for Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain Relief
2. Curl Up With a Heating Pad to Ease Period Cramps
“The uterus is a muscle, so anything that helps relax muscles, like applying heat, can be beneficial, Thielen says.
Indeed, research published in Evidence-Based Nursing found that topically applied heat was just as effective as ibuprofen for period cramps. Over the two study days, the women used heat alone, heat plus ibuprofen, ibuprofen alone, or a placebo. The best results were in the heat plus ibuprofen group; adding heat led to faster improvements.
A review published in March 2014 in The Journal of Physiotherapy also found that heat significantly lessened a woman’s period pain.
3. Pop a Safe Painkiller to Cut the Inflammation
Moderate use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) is one of the best ways to curb period pain, Thielen says. This is because NSAIDs reduce the amount of prostaglandins in the body. For this reason, taking a pill just before you get your period can keep the level of pain-causing prostaglandins from rising, she says.
As with any medicine, you should first check with your doctor to be sure NSAIDs are a good choice for you, especially if you have a history of bleeding or stomach or kidney issues.
If the NSAIDs you buy in the store don’t offer enough relief, your doctor might prescribe an NSAID with more potency. “Some women need up to 800 milligrams three times a day for cramps. You’d have to take a lot of over-the-counter pills to equal that,” Thielen says.
RELATED: 7 Things an Anesthesiologist Wants Women to Know About Pain
4. Acupuncture May Help by Relaxing the Nervous System
Acupuncture can help relieve cramps, says Jeannie Bianchi, a licensed acupuncturist in San Francisco. This ancient Asian healing method is thought to relax the nervous system, allow more blood to flow to internal organs, and quell inflammation, Bianchi says.
In a review published in April 2016 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews experts looked at 42 studies that observed the effects of acupuncture on period cramps. Each compared acupuncture with no treatment, conventional treatment (such as anti-inflammatory drugs), or a sham acupuncture procedure. Many of the studies found that the acupuncture group had less period pain and no side effects. The researchers emphasize, however, that the quality of all of the studies was poor.
5. Some Herbal Tea Varieties Can Calm Cramping
Certain teas may help relieve menstrual cramps, says Sonya Angelone, a registered dietitian nutritionist in the San Francisco Bay area.
Research on herbal teas for menstrual pain relief is scarce, but teas have been used by menstruating women in numerous cultures for centuries.
Chamomile and peppermint teas are often recommended for menstrual pain because they are calming to the body. Other teas associated with dysmenorrhea are those made from cramp bark, ginger, or fennel.
RELATED: Best Teas for Joint Pain Relief
6. Up the Magnesium in Your Diet
Dietary magnesium seems to help ease the pain of cramps, says DeJarra Sims, ND, a faculty member at Bastyr University in San Diego and the author of Your Healthiest Life Now.
Magnesium is found in many foods, including almonds, black beans, spinach, yogurt, and peanut butter.
If you want to take a magnesium supplement, Dr. Sims suggests speaking with your doctor, since the dose you need depends on the severity of your cramps along with other factors.
7. Massage With Essential Oils for Pain Relief
Massaging your skin with certain aromatic essential oils can relieve menstrual cramp pain, according to research published in The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research. Investigators asked 48 women with menstrual cramps and other symptoms to massage either essential oils or a synthetic fragrance into their lower abdomen between periods.
Women in both groups reported less pain, but the essential oils group did better. Based on the women’s reports, researchers found that the duration of pain was reduced by almost a half a day after self-massaging with the essential oils.
Some oils thought to be helpful include lavender essential oil, clary sage essential oil, and marjoram essential oil.
Just be sure you’re using essential oils safely. Buy high-quality oils that are tested for purity. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy suggests diluting pure essential oils in an unscented cream, lotion, or carrier oil before placing it on your skin to avoid irritation.
8. Boost Those Feel-Good Endorphins With Exercise (or Orgasm)
The body’s natural endorphins are known to boost your mood. But they also have a pain-relieving effect. A well-known way to boost endorphins is aerobic exercise. Having an orgasm is another.
RELATED: Have the Most Satisfying Sex Possible
A study published in March 2015 in the Journal of Family & Reproductive Health, found that, in 100 women, either stretching exercises or aerobic exercises done three times a week for two months reduced cramping.
RELATED: Masturbation 101: A Guide to Solo Sex for Women
9. Improving Your Diet May Alleviate Period Cramps
When researchers put 33 women with dysmenorrhea on a low-fat vegetarian diet, they found it eased their cramps, according to research published in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Start by swapping out less healthy fats like the saturated fats found in animal products for healthier ones like unsaturated fats found in olive oil, suggests the American Heart Association. Overall, try to make the fats you eat better quality, such as those found in fish or nuts, the organization suggests. Examples of meals not overly reliant on fats can be found in the healthy eating plate guide from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
RELATED: 9 Scientific Benefits of Following a Plant-Based Diet
10. Birth Control Pills May Lessen Painful Cramping, Too
While not exactly a home remedy, birth control pills and hormonal intrauterine devices are potential tools in your anticramping arsenal and should not be overlooked, Thielen says.
Consider cramp relief a benefit to some types of contraception. Many women find relief from painful cramps when they start the pill, Thielen says. “Hormonal birth control typically lessens the amount of bleeding, and less bleeding can translate into fewer cramps,” she says.
Menstrual cramps – Diagnosis and treatment
Your doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical exam, including a pelvic exam. During the pelvic exam, your doctor will check for abnormalities in your reproductive organs and look for signs of infection.
If your doctor suspects that a disorder is causing your menstrual cramps, he or she may recommend other tests, such as:
- Ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to create an image of your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Other imaging tests. A CT scan or MRI scan provides more detail than an ultrasound and can help your doctor diagnose underlying conditions. CT combines X-ray images taken from many angles to produce cross-sectional images of bones, organs and other soft tissues inside your body.
MRI uses radio waves and a powerful magnetic field to produce detailed images of internal structures. Both tests are noninvasive and painless.
- Laparoscopy. Although not usually necessary to diagnosis menstrual cramps, laparoscopy can help detect an underlying condition, such as endometriosis, adhesions, fibroids, ovarian cysts and ectopic pregnancy. During this outpatient surgery, your doctor views your abdominal cavity and reproductive organs by making tiny incisions in your abdomen and inserting a fiber-optic tube with a small camera lens.
To ease your menstrual cramps, your doctor might recommend:
Pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), at regular doses starting the day before you expect your period to begin can help control the pain of cramps. Prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also are available.
Start taking the pain reliever at the beginning of your period, or as soon as you feel symptoms, and continue taking the medicine as directed for two to three days, or until your symptoms are gone.
- Hormonal birth control. Oral birth control pills contain hormones that prevent ovulation and reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. These hormones can also be delivered in several other forms: an injection, a skin patch, an implant placed under the skin of your arm, a flexible ring that you insert into your vagina, or an intrauterine device (IUD).
- Surgery. If your menstrual cramps are caused by a disorder such as endometriosis or fibroids, surgery to correct the problem might help your symptoms. Surgical removal of the uterus also might be an option if other approaches fail to ease your symptoms and if you’re not planning to have children.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Besides getting enough sleep and rest, things you might want to try include:
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity, including sex, helps ease menstrual cramps for some women.
- Use heat. Soaking in a hot bath or using a heating pad, hot water bottle or heat patch on your lower abdomen might ease menstrual cramps.
- Try dietary supplements. A number of studies have indicated that vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-1 (thiamin), vitamin B-6 and magnesium supplements might reduce menstrual cramps.
- Reduce stress. Psychological stress might increase your risk of menstrual cramps and their severity.
Most alternative therapies for treating menstrual cramps haven’t been studied enough for experts to recommend them. However, some alternative treatments might help, including:
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture involves inserting extremely thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body. Some studies have found that acupuncture helps relieve menstrual cramps.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). A TENS device connects to the skin using adhesive patches with electrodes in them. The electrodes deliver a varying level of electric current to stimulate nerves.
TENS might work by raising the threshold for pain signals and stimulating the release of your body’s natural painkillers (endorphins). In studies, TENS was more effective than a placebo in relieving menstrual cramp pain.
- Herbal medicine. Some herbal products, such as pycnogenol, fennel or combination products, might provide some relief from menstrual cramps.
- Acupressure. Like acupuncture, acupressure also involves stimulating certain points on the body, but with gentle pressure on the skin instead of needles. Although research on acupressure and menstrual cramps is limited, it appears that acupressure may be more effective than a placebo in easing menstrual cramps.
Preparing for your appointment
If you have bothersome menstrual cramps, make an appointment with either your primary physician or a doctor who specializes in the female reproductive system (gynecologist). Here’s some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
Track your menstrual periods, when they begin and how severe your cramps are. Also, make a list of:
- Medical problems you’ve had and recent major stresses in your life
- All medications, vitamins or other supplements you take
- Questions to ask your doctor
For menstrual cramps, basic questions include:
- What’s the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are my symptoms likely to change over time?
- Do I need any tests done?
- What treatments or home remedies might help?
- Are there brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
Don’t hesitate to ask other questions as they occur to you.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, such as:
- How old were you when you began menstruating?
- How far apart are your menstrual periods, and how long do they typically last?
- How heavy is your menstrual bleeding? Do you ever bleed between periods?
- Where do your cramps hurt?
- Do you have other symptoms with your cramps, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, back pain, dizziness or headaches?
- Do your symptoms cause you to limit your activities, stay home from work or school, or avoid exercise?
- If you’re sexually active, is intercourse painful?
- What treatments have you tried so far, if any? Has anything helped?
- Do women in your family have a history of similar symptoms?
What you can do in the meantime
When you have cramps, try taking a warm bath or applying a heating pad, hot water bottle or heat patch to your abdomen. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, also might help.
Menstrual Cycle: Dealing With Cramps
Most women have painful cramps from their period from time to time. The good news is that you can usually relieve cramps with over-the-counter medicine and home treatment.
- Pain medicine and home treatment can help ease cramps.
- Stay ahead of the pain. Take over-the-counter pain medicine, such as ibuprofen (Advil, for example) as soon as you feel cramps or on the day before you get your period.
How can I manage pain from menstrual cramps?
Over-the-counter pain medicine and home treatment are often all you need to ease your cramps.
- Try anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce pain. Ibuprofen (such as Advil) and naproxen (such as Aleve) may work better than aspirin.
- Stay ahead of the pain. Pain medicine works better if you take it before the pain gets bad.
- Start taking the recommended dose of the pain medicine as soon as you start to feel cramping, or on the day before your period starts.
- Keep taking the medicine for as long as you have cramps.
- Try acetaminophen (Tylenol) if anti-inflammatory medicine does not help.
Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
Do not take aspirin if you are younger than 20. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
- Put a heating pad (set on low) or a hot water bottle on your belly, or take a warm bath. Heat improves blood flow and may ease the pain.
- Lie down and put a pillow under your knees, or lie on your side and bring your knees up to your chest. This may help relieve back pressure.
- Use pads instead of tampons. This may help if you also have vaginal pain.
- Get regular exercise. This helps blood flow and may reduce cramping.
Talk to your doctor if you have tried to manage your cramps with medicine and home treatment but you do not feel better. If your cramps are caused by a health problem not related to your period, such as endometriosis, you may need other treatment.
Current as of:
July 17, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall MD – Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD – Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD – Family Medicine
Rebecca Sue Uranga
Current as of: July 17, 2020
Medical Review:Sarah Marshall MD – Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD – Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD – Family Medicine & Rebecca Sue Uranga
What Helps Cramps: Relieve Period Pain Fast
Menstrual cramps are a common experience for anyone who menstruates. However, they can vary considerably in intensity. Some people might only experience mild cramping, while others might have more severe—or even debilitating—pain.
If you have a tween or teen, try to take their complaints of menstrual pain seriously and see what you can do to help. Luckily, there are a number of effective home remedies for cramps.
While some discomfort is to be expected with periods, it can also point to a problem that requires medical attention. It’s important to know the difference between what is normal and what is not.
Menstrual cramps are actually uterine contractions that occur just before and during your period in order to shed the uterine lining. These contractions are painful for more than half of all people who menstruate, though the pain typically only lasts a day or two and is usually mild.
Most people experience period pain as a dull ache or throbbing in the lower abdomen, though it can also radiate to the lower back and inner or upper thighs. For some people, menstrual pain is so severe that it interferes with their daily activities.
There are a number of risk factors that increase the likelihood that a person will experience painful period cramps, including:
What Helps Relieve Cramps
It is possible to soothe mild menstrual discomfort and pain. Here are a few things that can help.
Light exercise can lessen period pain and release endorphins, which elevates your mood and makes you feel better. You don’t need to do an intense workout to reap the benefits of exercise—a simple walk around the neighborhood, yoga session, or stretching exercises can all help ease the pain.
Applying a hot water bottle or heating pad to your lower abdomen increases blood flow and relaxes the uterine muscles that cause period pain. In fact, one study of 344 people found that heat therapy was more effective than over-the-counter pain relievers at easing period discomfort.
Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) are widely used to relieve menstrual cramps.
Do not give aspirin products (such as Bayer) to children or teenagers under the age of 16 because it can increase the risk of Reye syndrome, a rare but possibly fatal disease.
As with any medication, follow the dosing instructions on the bottle. Also, ask your doctor before taking more than one medication.
Rest and Relaxation
Rest, relaxation, and sleep can all help with pain relief. In particular, sleep can help maintain a healthy menstrual cycle and lower cortisol levels.
Try different sleep positions to see what works best to ease the pressure on your abdominal muscles. Many people find lying on their side or with knees pulled up to their chest (commonly known as the fetal position) the most comfortable during their period.
A warm bath or shower can also help relieve menstrual cramps. Much like applying a heating pad or hot water bottle, the heat increases blood flow and relaxes the muscles of the uterus to lessen pain.
Things to Avoid
Certain foods and drinks can make you retain water, resulting in a bloated and uncomfortable feeling during your period. Others worsen inflammation, which can make period symptoms worse. It is a good idea to avoid the following:
- Carbonated drinks
- Fried foods
- Legumes (such as beans and chickpeas)
- Processed foods
- Salty or sugary foods
When Period Pain Isn’t Normal
Menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are not the same thing. PMS symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, bloating, and fatigue appear approximately a week before menses begins. After your period starts, PMS symptoms usually improve dramatically.
PMS symptoms fade after a menstrual period begins, but new pain may emerge in the form of menstrual cramps.
The lining of the uterus releases prostaglandins that make contractions more powerful and painful, especially during the first few days of the menstrual cycle. For many, this discomfort is simply a nuisance, but sometimes it’s indicative of more than just “normal” period pain.
There are two types of menstrual pain:
- Primary dysmenorrhea: This type of pain occurs around the time of a first period and usually doesn’t indicate a medical condition.
- Secondary dysmenorrhea: Pain that develops some time after a person first begins menstruating; it can even begin after a long history of normal periods. It usually indicates the presence of conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
If period pain is not relieved with anti-inflammatory medication or is so severe that it interferes with going to school, working, or socializing, there could be an underlying condition that needs treatment.
In this case, it’s best to call a doctor or other healthcare professional. If your tween or teen is the one experiencing menstrual pain, you can contact either a gynecologist or your child’s pediatrician (most see patients until at least 18 years of age).
When to See a Doctor
Severe menstrual pain can be a sign that something more serious is going on. Call your doctor if:
- Home remedies, including heat and pain relievers, do not ease your pain
- You cannot participate in normal activities because of your period pain
- Pain continues even after your period ends
- You’re also experiencing symptoms of depression
Severe menstrual pain could be a sign of other health conditions, including:
The first thing your doctor will do is diagnose what is causing your severe period cramps. Treatment will depend on the diagnosis. Possible treatments could include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Both prescription and over-the-counter NSAIDs can inhibit the production of prostaglandins and relieve period pain.
- Antidepressants: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a type of antidepressant used to treat both the emotional and physical symptoms of severe PMS.
- Hormonal birth control: The hormones in birth control can help relieve menstrual cramps by reducing or blocking prostaglandin production.
For more severe diagnoses, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids, your doctor may suggest surgery to eliminate the source of the pain. In rare cases, a hysterectomy to remove the uterus may be recommended.
A Word From Verywell
Menstrual pain can take tweens and teens by surprise when they are first beginning to have periods. While cramps are uncomfortable, they are common and when mild, are not usually an indication of anything serious.
You can help your child by using home remedies to alleviate their discomfort—including a few days for some self-care if they feel like they need it. However, if the pain is debilitating or interfering with normal activities, call your primary care doctor or gynecologist.
Dysmenorrhea: Painful Periods | ACOG
Adenomyosis: A condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus begins to grow in the muscle wall of the uterus.
Adhesions: Scars that can make tissue surfaces stick together.
Biofeedback: A technique used by physical therapists to help a person control body functions, such as heartbeat or blood pressure.
Birth Control: Devices or medications used to prevent pregnancy.
Bladder: A hollow, muscular organ in which urine is stored.
Dysmenorrhea: Discomfort and pain during the menstrual period.
Endometriosis: A condition in which tissue that lines the uterus is found outside of the uterus, usually on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic structures.
Estrogen: A female hormone produced in the ovaries.
Fallopian Tubes: Tubes through which an egg travels from the ovary to the uterus.
Fibroids: Growths that form in the muscle of the uterus. Fibroids usually are noncancerous.
General Anesthesia: The use of drugs that create a sleep-like state to prevent pain during surgery.
Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone (GnRH) Agonists: Medical therapy used to block the effect of certain hormones.
Hormones: Substances made in the body that control the function of cells or organs.
Hysterectomy: Surgery to remove the uterus.
Intrauterine Device (IUD): A small device that is inserted and left inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy.
Laparoscopy: A surgical procedure in which a thin, lighted telescope called a laparoscope is inserted through a small incision (cut) in the abdomen. The laparoscope is used to view the pelvic organs. Other instruments can be used with it to perform surgery.
Menstrual Periods: The monthly shedding of blood and tissue from the uterus.
Menstruation: The monthly shedding of blood and tissue from the uterus that happens when a woman is not pregnant.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Drugs that relieve pain by reducing inflammation. Many types are available over the counter, including ibuprofen and naproxen.
Obstetrician–Gynecologist (Ob-Gyn): A doctor with special training and education in women’s health.
Ovaries: Organs in women that contain the eggs necessary to get pregnant and make important hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Pelvic Exam: A physical examination of a woman’s pelvic organs.
Progestin: A synthetic form of progesterone that is similar to the hormone made naturally by the body.
Prostaglandins: Chemicals that are made by the body that have many effects, including causing the muscle of the uterus to contract, usually causing cramps.
Ultrasound Exam: A test in which sound waves are used to examine inner parts of the body. During pregnancy, ultrasound can be used to check the fetus.
Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE): A procedure to block the blood vessels to the uterus. This procedure is used to stop bleeding after delivery. It is also used to stop other causes of bleeding from the uterus.
Uterus: A muscular organ in the female pelvis. During pregnancy, this organ holds and nourishes the fetus. Also called the womb.
How to get rid of pain during menstruation.
Many girls experience severe pain and discomfort in the lower abdomen during menstruation. Every woman faces these unpleasant sensations to one degree or another: some have more pronounced symptoms, while others bother them to a lesser extent. During this period, some girls are forced to deny themselves scheduled meetings, walks, since severe pain can distract from activities, greatly interfere with a pleasant pastime.
But if you often have severe pain during menstruation, then this is a sign to consult a good gynecologist in Strogino, because this symptom may indicate the presence of problems in the body, not to mention the fact that every girl is obliged to regularly visit the gynecological office in order to prevent diseases.
But how do you get rid of menstrual pain? These questions were answered by the gynecologists of the “NATALI-MED” medical center. Before talking about the methods of treatment, it is necessary to characterize the main causes of pain during menstruation.As a rule, the reason is quite simple: when pregnancy does not occur, the endometrium is rejected from the walls of the uterus, and at this moment prostaglandins are released, which contributes to a better passage of the remnants of the uterine mucosa outward. With too many prostaglandins, the muscles have to contract more actively, which provokes pain during menstruation.
In medical language, such pains are called dysmenorrhea , which can be primary and secondary.
- Primary dysmenorrhea develops in girls from 14 to 25 years old, and in addition to pain in the lower abdomen, headache, nausea, and problems with stool are also added to the discomfort. Typically, these symptoms occur a couple of days before the onset of menstruation, which is successfully treated. But if you are constantly worried about severe pain during your period, be sure to undergo examination by a good gynecologist at the “NATALI-MED” medical center.
- Secondary Dysmenorrhea is associated with changes in the genitals, such as inflammation, endometriosis and others.A good gynecologist in Strogino will help you with the examination, and, of course, such diseases are treated only under the supervision of a specialist. In addition to the causes of menstrual pain associated with inflammation of the pelvic organs, pain can also occur due to the presence of an intrauterine device, stressful situations, lack of calcium in the body, due to lack of physical activity or lack of sleep.
How to deal with menstrual pain?
- If soreness is familiar to your cycle and does not cause any particular inconvenience, then the girl can lead a normal life, in this case it is enough to protect herself from additional physical exertion, get enough sleep, avoid stress and get more rest.
- If a girl has a low pain threshold, or the pain syndrome is too pronounced, then you can take painkillers that relieve spasm, and as prescribed by a doctor, oral contraceptives are taken, which are designed not only to relieve soreness during menstruation, but also to normalize the cycle if the girl has there is a violation of the cycle.
- Moderate exercise can also help relieve soreness during menstruation. It is erroneous to say that sports are contraindicated for girls these days, on the contrary, moderate physical activity only contributes to an easier passage of the menstrual period.The uterus is made up of muscles, so regular exercise and good stretching will help you cope with the pain of your period more easily.
- Swimming, as many people know, is one of the best sports in which absolutely all muscles work; it is less traumatic, helps to cope with many diseases of the musculoskeletal system, as well as relax muscles and relieve tension. Including swimming in moderation is an indication for relieving menstrual pain.
- Intake of vitamins and minerals.Lack of magnesium and calcium can usually also lead to painful periods; the appointment of these vitamins is carried out only by a gynecologist.
- Herbal teas and infusions with strawberries, calendula, mint or chamomile will help to relax the body, relieve stress and calm down.
- A warm, comfortable shower and warming your lower abdomen with a warm heating pad will also help ease painful periods. But it should be borne in mind that the heating pad should not be too hot, otherwise it can provoke additional bleeding – with this method you need to be as careful as possible.
- Proper nutrition. A balanced diet, the use of porridge, fish, cottage cheese, dairy products and bananas will help improve digestion, relieve tension in the lower abdomen and relieve menstrual pain.
- Also for menstrual pain, massage of the abdomen and lower back is indicated. Massage reduces tension in the abdominal cavity and relieves spasms. The massage should be done with warm hands in a clockwise circular motion.
In order to prevent the occurrence of pain during menstruation, it is necessary to regularly visit a gynecologist at the NATALI-MED medical center for examination and early detection of possible pathologies in the body.
Go in for sports, lead an active lifestyle, give up bad habits, reduce coffee consumption, replace it with cocoa, teas, herbal infusions, get enough sleep, panic and worry less, and avoid hypothermia.
In what situations is it necessary to see a gynecologist in Strogino as soon as possible?
- If spasms are not relieved even by pain relievers.
- With increased bleeding and heavy menstruation.
- In case of severe pain, which does not even allow getting out of bed.
- Soreness that lasts for several days.
- In case of sudden onset of pain not previously observed.
Take care of your health!
90,000 Why do menstrual pains occur and how to cope with them
Where do menstrual pains come from?
The most common cause of pain during menstruation is primary dysmenorrhea . This is the case when the symptoms are of an absolutely natural, physiological nature: unpleasant sensations arise not due to diseases, but by themselves.This is how it goes.
During menstruation, the uterus gets rid of the endometrium – the mucous membrane, which in this monthly cycle was not required for the development of the ovum. When this process is triggered, the muscular wall of the uterus begins to vigorously contract.
Most often, these contractions are felt as mild discomfort. But in some women, menstrual cramps are so severe that the pain seems unbearable and severely affects 90,075 quality of life.
What is the reason for this difference in sensations is not entirely clear.According to the generally accepted version of , it is because of prostaglandins – chemicals that the body secretes to make the uterus contract. They also increase the sensitivity to pain.
Women with primary dysmenorrhea seem to accumulate too much prostaglandins.
Among other things, these substances cause the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract to contract. Therefore, nausea and diarrhea can be added to pain during menstruation.
Pain during menstruation can be associated with disease?
Primary dysmenorrhea is diagnosed if menstruation has always been painful since adolescence. If before everything was in order, and now suddenly there was or increased pain, we are talking about secondary dysmenorrhea.
In this case, diseases of the genitourinary system are most likely the cause of the discomfort.
- Fibroids, fibromas and other benign neoplasms in the uterus.
- Inflammatory diseases of the pelvic organs. Typically, these infections are caused by sexually transmitted bacteria.
- Stenosis (narrowing) of the cervix.
In addition, sometimes periods become painful after inserting an IUD .
Why does it hurt me, but my friend tolerates her period without problems?
You might just be out of luck. Primary dysmenorrhea is an individual feature of the body with which you need to learn to live.
If you suspect secondary dysmenorrhea, tactics change. We need to find out if illness is the cause of your suffering. If so, it is enough to cure it, and the pain will pass.
How to find out what is the cause of pain during menstruation in the disease?
Only with the help of a gynecologist. Be sure to see a doctor if at least one of the following conditions is met:
- The pain is so severe that it regularly deletes several days in a month from your life.
- Symptoms get worse with each new cycle.
- Attacks of severe menstrual pain started after age 25.
The gynecologist will ask you about the symptoms, study the medical history, and conduct an examination, including the pelvic organs. Most likely, additional studies will be needed: urine and blood tests, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT).
Sometimes you need a diagnostic operation – laparoscopy. The surgeon makes a tiny incision in the abdomen and inserts a probe with a camera through it, which will allow you to examine the abdominal cavity and reproductive organs.
This is enough to draw conclusions about health and treat either illness or primary dysmenorrhea.
How is menstrual pain treated?
It depends on the diagnosis. If we are talking about a disease, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics or recommend surgery that will relieve you of endometriosis and uterine fibroids.
You can also use pills to make menstrual cramps less painful. This is what 90,075 doctors usually advise.
Conventional over-the-counter drugs based on ibuprofen or acetylsalicylic acid can relieve pain.Start drinking them the day before your expected period and continue for 2-3 days until symptoms disappear. Paracetamol tablets can also help, but they are less effective in this case.
Please note that ibuprofen and acetylsalicylic acid have contraindications. For example, they are dangerous to take if you have asthma, stomach, liver or kidney problems.
It is very important that even OTC pain relievers are prescribed by a doctor.
If these remedies do not work, ask your gynecologist for more powerful prescription medications, such as naproxen or codeine.
Contraceptive pills contain hormones that prevent ovulation, and at the same time make the uterine lining 90,075 thinner. It is easier to get rid of such mucous membrane, so less prostaglandins are produced, and the uterus contracts less vigorously during menstruation.
The same hormones can be obtained in other ways, not only in tablets. For example, it can be:
- hormonal patches applied to the skin;
- implants that are implanted under the skin of the hand;
- intrauterine device with hormonal effect.
Can anything other than pills help?
Yes. Sometimes, lifestyle changes are enough to ease the pain of your period.
It is impossible to say for sure that all the points from the list below will definitely help you, because each organism has its own reactions. So try one at a time and listen to how you feel.
- Sleep at least 8 hours a night. Make sure to find time to relax.
- Exercise regularly.Anyone: jogging and stretching can help. For physical activity that can relieve pain during menstruation, doctors include 90,075 and sex.
- Use heat during cramping. The best option is to crawl under the covers and sit with a mug of hot tea. You can apply a heating pad to your lower abdomen. A warm bath or shower works too. Dress warmly if you need to get out of the house and get busy. Choose clothes that do not create discomfort in the abdominal area: tight jeans and belts that cut into the body will wait a few days.
- Try gently massaging your belly with your fingers. It can also 90,075 relieve pain.
- Try to be less nervous and learn to control your stress.
- Try nutritional supplements. There is evidence that vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B1 (thiamine), B6, magnesium can reduce menstrual cramps 90,075. Herbal supplements such as fennel have a similar effect.
If you are not against alternative medicine, consider acupuncture.The procedure also helps 90,075 to make periods less painful, according to the US Medical Research Center Mayo Clinic.
Is it possible to get rid of pain during menstruation once and for all?
How lucky. It is generally observed that pain caused by primary dysmenorrhea gradually decreases 90,075 with age.
Many women also report that they feel better after having children. But, unfortunately, it is not a fact that this will work in your case.Your menstrual pain may stay with you until menopause.
However, this is not a reason to endure. Talk to your doctor and work with him to find pain relievers and other drugs that will help you get rid of the discomfort. Yes, it can take months, but the reward is a life without intermittent pain.
This article was originally published in October 2017. In March 2021, we updated the text.
Read also 🧐
8 WAYS TO REMOVE ABDOMATION BEFORE MONTHLY – Dobrobut clinic
Let us explain why your stomach puffs up during your period, and provide some effective tips to help you not feel the beginning of a cycle, at least at your waist, and to alleviate common PMS symptoms.
The end and beginning of menstruation cause many physiological changes in a woman’s body, including noticeable bloating and gas – unpleasant from an aesthetic point of view, because it affects the contours of your figure. It is estimated that about 70 percent of women each month feel that their belly is noticeably enlarged and seems to be heavy just before the start of their next period. This is due to fluctuations in estrogen levels and a sharp drop in progesterone levels on the eve of each new menstrual cycle.The feeling of bloating in the lower abdomen in women is one of the most common manifestations of the well-known premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which significantly worsens the life of many women of fertile age for several days.
The good news: During the first two to three days of your menstrual cycle, your ovaries start producing the required amount of hormones again. Thanks to this, the abdomen gradually returns to normal volume. But what can you do at this time? Doctors offer several effective solutions to help keep your belly in check on these already difficult days.
Choose foods rich in protein and potassium
Make sure you have foods in your diet the other day to prevent bloating and gas formation. Vegetables and fruits that are high in potassium, such as bananas, melons, tomatoes, and asparagus, help ensure proper fluid balance in the body. The same goes for healthy fats: add to the menu, for example, chia and flax seeds, walnuts and salmon, which contain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. This will help stabilize the level of prostaglandins – physiologically active substances that cause contraction of the muscles of the uterus and regulate water-salt metabolism in the body.
Protein is another safe and essential ingredient in your diet before your period. Better to choose chicken fillet, sea fish and tofu. Foods that have natural diuretic properties such as celery, cucumber, watermelon, lemon juice, garlic, and ginger will also help you feel lighter (literally) the other day.
Eliminate gas-generating foods from the menu
These are broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Are you surprised? Although these are the top health foods, they contain the trisaccharide raffinose and significant amounts of water-soluble plant fiber.Our bodies lack the digestive enzymes to properly digest these compounds, so they enter the intestines undigested and swell, causing excess gas, bloating, intestinal cramps and upset. Some nutritionists also include beans, cabbage, cauliflower and various leafy salads for foods in this category.
Sports is probably the last thing you would like to do these days.But doctors say that raising your heart rate is one of the best ways to relieve PMS symptoms, including a feeling of bloating in the lower abdomen. A sedentary lifestyle leads to a low activity of the digestive system. Therefore, constant training will not only help you maintain a healthy figure, but also relieve constipation. Before starting your next menstrual cycle, opt for light workouts such as swimming and yoga. Exercise of high intensity, in particular CrossFit, can, on the contrary, provoke inflammation and increase bloating.
Reduce caffeine and alcohol
Drinking alcohol on the days before your period can worsen PMS symptoms: breast swelling and soreness, mood swings and bloating, gynecologists warn. Coffee, in turn, overstimulates the digestive tract and leads to irritation of the intestinal walls, not to mention dehydration, which forces your body to retain water. Therefore, we advise you to skip the morning latte on these days.
Take anti-inflammatory drugs
Medicines such as ibuprofen can block chemicals in the body that cause inflammation and, as a result, bloating and gas.Two days before the start of your next menstrual cycle, take 200 to 400 mg of ibuprofen every six to 8:00 a.m. after consulting your gynecologist.
Avoid sodas and sugary drinks
Mineral sodas may temporarily ease the feeling of bloating in the lower abdomen, but will eventually lead to more. The same goes for sugary sodas, even those containing artificial sweeteners. Instead, drink plain clean water – about 2 liters a day, but guided by your own feeling of thirst.Weak green tea, infusion of mint, chamomile and fennel seeds are also recommended these days – they will prevent excessive gas formation.
Sleep at least 8:00
Often premenstrual pain, bloating and gas, general discomfort do not allow women to get enough sleep these days. Nevertheless, get out of bed and do not postpone sleep: it is during these hours that your body is working to remove excess fluid from the abdominal area. So, try to get at least 8:00 a.m. sleep at night.
Consider the possibility of taking contraceptives
Oral contraception is not only an effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but also to stabilize hormone balance and reduce pain during menstruation. Medical research has shown that taking oral contraceptives reduces PMS symptoms by 50 percent. Therefore, consult your doctor about the possibility of such a solution to the problem if, in your individual case, the manifestations of premenstrual syndrome are too acute and disrupt your usual lifestyle.
Malaise and pain during menstruation: only to relieve pain or to treat?
Most often, gynecologists have to hear complaints from girls about general malaise and painful sensations before and during menstruation. This condition is called dysmenorrhea – it is a violation of the menstrual cycle, which is characterized by pain syndrome1: pain appears on the first day and can persist throughout and after menstruation. The attacks of pain exhaust the nervous system, reduce efficiency, and limit the woman’s usual level of activity.
NOT ONLY PAIN.
In addition to the already mentioned pain in the lower abdomen, patients during menstruation are often disturbed by other symptoms:
- Emotional and mental disorders – irritability, drowsiness, insomnia, odor intolerance, etc.
- Manifestations of “vegetative storm” – nausea, chills or feeling of heat, sweating, dry mouth, bloating, frequent urination, etc.
- Vascular dysfunction – headache, dizziness, arrhythmias, a feeling of numbness in the arms and legs, facial swelling, etc.
- Metabolic and endocrine disorders – weakness, itching, joint pain, swelling, feeling of “cottony” feet, etc.
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
About 82% of the fair sex experience pain during menstruation. The production of prostaglandins (substances-mediators of pain and inflammation), typical before menstruation, significantly increases the contractile activity of the uterus, against which vasospasm, local circulatory disorders and irritation of nerve endings in the tissues of the uterus occur.As a result of all these changes, pain arises.
The development of dysmenorrhea is often associated with a hormonal imbalance, namely with an imbalance of sex steroids – estrogens and progesterone, and much more serious conditions – in the second phase of the cycle. However, primary dysmenorrhea can be a sign of abnormalities in the development of the genital organs or gynecological diseases: endometriosis, uterine fibroids, ovarian tumors, pelvic inflammation, pelvic varicose veins, etc.
HOW TO TREAT?
Treatment of dysmenorrhea (dysmenorrhea is a cyclical pathological process in which severe pain in the lower abdomen appears on the days of menstruation.) Involves a combination of non-drug methods and modern drug therapy. So, the condition of a woman objectively improves a full-fledged sleep, physiotherapy exercises, reflexology.
- The leading place in the treatment of dysmenorrhea is occupied by three groups of drugs – gestagens, oral contraceptives and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Gestagens (progesterone and its derivatives) – they increase the gestagenic “shoulder” of cyclic hormonal fluctuations (mediators of pain and inflammation) and affect the muscular wall of the uterus, reducing its contractile activity and excitability;
- Oral contraceptives – they regulate the frequency and amplitude of uterine contractions, the volume of menstrual flow by suppressing ovulation, which reduces the secretion of prostaglandins by the endometrium. Taking contraceptives reduces the concentration of estrogens and, consequently, the severity of the symptoms of dysmenorrhea;
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – they have an analgesic effect and reduce the level of prostaglandins, directly affecting the cause of pain.
Nevertheless, in the treatment of dysmenorrhea, it is extremely important that its cause is understood – if thoughtlessly “absorbing analgesics”, then this can mask the manifestations of the main disease, for example, endometriosis (endometriosis is a common gynecological disease in which the cells of the endometrium (the inner layer of the wall uterus) grow outside this layer), which must be treated seriously, thoroughly and by completely different means. And only a specialist can correctly understand the situation.By the way, from the point of view of modern medicine, pain during menstruation is not the norm, and it is really necessary to deal with its treatment, thoughtful and balanced.
“I thought I was going crazy.” What is it like to remove the uterus at 28
- Natasha Lipman
Every month for a couple of weeks Lucy became a different person – suffering from pain and mental disorders. Nobody understood why.For many years she was looking for a doctor in Britain who could explain what was happening to her. At the age of 28, she decided on a hysterectomy – an operation to remove the uterus.
“Then every day I woke up with the feeling that I was going to live a hard day. It felt like a heavy load was pressing on me. At some point I went to the doctor and told him that I was obsessed.”
Until puberty, Lucy was a quiet, friendly and carefree girl. But from the age of 13, she began to have panic attacks.She began to suffer from anxiety and severe depression.
She hurt herself and experienced sudden mood swings. At the age of 14, she left school and was admitted to a mental hospital for adolescents.
“I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Bipolar disorder was also frequently mentioned,” she recalls.
However, none of these diagnoses matched the cyclical nature of her symptoms.
Everything changed dramatically when she became pregnant at 16 with her first child, son Toby.
“After a few months of pregnancy, I was released from the hospital. The symptoms went away and I was happy. I felt really good. My psyche became so stable that everyone was amazing.”
Well-being was maintained throughout pregnancy and lactation. But as soon as the critical days returned to Lucy, the same torment came with them.
During pregnancy, the painful symptoms disappeared, and Lucy felt very well
Several years later, Lucy returned to school to pass the exams, but from time to time she fell into such disarray that she could not study and eventually dropped out.
Later she began preparing for the national vocational qualifications, which made it possible to become a teacher. This time, Lucy decided to fight to the end, but she never qualified. She left school two months before graduation when the symptoms became completely unbearable.
At 23, Lucy became pregnant again with her daughter Bella. And again she felt much better, despite the fact that she had to go to the hospital with severe toxicosis.
After Bella’s birth, Lucy’s symptoms returned with renewed vigor.
The agony was physical (pain in joints and muscles, increased sensitivity to sounds and extreme fatigue) and mental (obsessive thoughts, irrational behavior, extreme forgetfulness and oppressive feeling of hopelessness).
“The most terrible feeling for me was the feeling of depersonalization. That is, the feeling that the consciousness is separated from the body, as if I was in a dream. Sometimes I did not recognize the people close to me. I knew that I should know who they were, but their faces seemed unfamiliar to me.” , – recalls Lucy.
“At some point I felt so bad that my own voice began to be heard as a stranger to me.I did not recognize my voice or the reflection in the mirror. “
Lucy suffered from suicidal thoughts, which often put herself at risk, wanting to commit suicide.
All this happened at monthly intervals, and no one noticed the cyclicality, until Lucy’s husband Martin once casually dropped the phrase that he tries to keep his mouth shut on the eve of his wife’s critical days so as not to annoy her. Then Lucy thought about the connection between her period and her symptoms.
“It became clear what was happening.I knew that just a few hours after the start of my period, my health would improve. Although my periods have always been very painful, I really felt my best during this period. I even chose my wedding day so that at this time I had my period, because only then did I feel good, “says Lucy.
Before that, Lucy assumed that hormonal changes exacerbated her mental problems. Now she began to suspect that they were the cause of all the problems.
Armed with a list of three dozen symptoms and information she found on the Internet, Lucy went to her doctor. At the time, she was told that she was suffering from postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter, but since Lucy had suffered from it before, she knew that this was not the case.
As a teenager, she began taking antidepressants, tranquilizers and sleeping pills. She has now also been given antipsychotics.
“Every time I was prescribed and removed some medicine.I took a hefty dose of antidepressants. But I told the doctors that I was not depressed, that something else was happening to me. I thought I was going crazy, “Lucy says.
Lucy’s doctor referred her to a psychiatrist, who explained to her that although some of her symptoms were mental, he could not help her because her problem was physical. When Lucy returned to her doctor, she asked to refer her to a gynecologist, but he again referred her to a psychiatrist.
At this stage, Lucy learned from the psychiatrist what her ailment is called – premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is a severe form premenstrual syndrome (PMS).Now she was finally referred to a gynecologist, advised to “think about getting rid of ovulation for good.”
What is premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)?
- Severe PMS / PMDD affects 5-10% of menstruating women and often these disorders are triggered by fluctuations in hormone levels.
- Research shows the genetic trace of PMS: Someone inherits sensitivity to fluctuations in hormone levels from their parents.
- Although PMS / PMDD is mainly accompanied by bodily suffering, it is their mental symptoms (depression, irritability, aggression) that cause the greatest harm to a person.
- PMS / PMDD can affect anyone with critical days, but most often occurs during adolescence, when menstruation begins for the first time, or after 35 years.
- Hysterectomy for PMS / PMDD is difficult. However, experts say that for patients with PMS / PMDD, removal of the uterus is necessary to avoid further problems during menopause.
This knowledge was a breakthrough for Lucy, but her doctor disagreed with the psychiatrist’s diagnosis and insisted that she undergo three alternative treatments before sending her to the gynecologist.
She began taking various hormonal contraceptives, which only made her worse, and as soon as the course of treatment with one antidepressant ended, she was prescribed another.
She was prescribed mirtazapine, sertraline, Prozac, diazepam and sleeping pills, which made her feel as if she fell into a daze and could not resist the decisions of the doctors.
“It was very difficult. I was at the bottom. I could not go to the doctors, because I could not connect two words there. I could not conduct a dialogue.And when my health improved, I practically did not remember what happened the day before. Everything was in a daze, “says Lucy.
Lucy’s husband Martin insisted that she go back to the clinic and try to see another doctor. In the end she met someone who admitted that none of the tried options treatment did not work and referred her to the gynecologist.
The decisive appointment with the gynecologist happened a year after Lucy was diagnosed with PMDD.She was prescribed injections every four weeks to block the production of the hormone estrogen in her body.
It was supposed to artificially place her in the menopause. The effectiveness of the injections would have confirmed the diagnosis.
For the first two weeks, Lucy suffered desperately as her worst symptoms worsened. But after that, when she was already expecting the next monthly “blow”, she suddenly felt good. Better than ever in the past ten years.
“Suddenly everything changed … all the symptoms were gone,” she recalls. “I didn’t even realize how much I suffered until I was released.”
In the next two months, she miraculously got off the drugs that she had been treated with since adolescence.
At a secondary appointment with a gynecologist after five months of life-saving injections, she was confirmed with the diagnosis of PMDD. And they proposed the final plan for defeating the disease – hysterectomy, that is, the surgical removal of the uterus.
Up to this point, Lucy was 100% sure that she wanted to give birth again.But then she realized how shaky that desire was.
“It was really important to me, but I understood that a new pregnancy would mean the end of the injections, the return of periods and everything connected with it. It was unbearable. I thought that I could not go through it all again. I I was afraid that I could not stand it and would commit suicide. It was very scary, “explains Lucy.
When she discussed with her husband the plan to have a hysterectomy, he supported her, but warned that in the future she might regret her decision, which would mean not only that she will no longer be able to give birth, but also that she has at such a young age menopause will begin.
Lucy was also worried about this, but when she looked at the list of symptoms that she had suffered from all these years, it turned out that their number had grown to 42.
“After looking at all this, I realized that there is only one way out Then I already knew what a normal life was. Before, I didn’t even know what it was. Martin also noticed a change in me and in our family life for the better. It was so good. ”
Martin, Toby, Bella and Lucy
While Lucy was reconciled with her decision, the agonizing symptoms began to slowly return to her.
“The symptoms started to come back one after another. It was very scary and I started thinking about suicide again. I was in desperate need of injections. I knew that they helped before, but suddenly they stopped working. I started asking them to give me everything. earlier and earlier for a month. I was like an addict, “she says.
Lucy, the gynecologist, explained to her that the injections could not lose their effectiveness and that perhaps the reason was that her diagnosis was wrong. She had to discontinue the course of injections and return to hormonal contraceptives.
“I thought I couldn’t do this anymore. That I would rather die than return to my old life.”
A nurse who had given Lucy injections for a long time advised her to see another doctor. He agreed to refer Lucy to a specialist, whom she had heard a lot about, from London’s Chelsea and Westminster hospital.
A few months later, Lucy finally got an appointment, during which she told the doctor about her experience of the past fifteen years. When she said that the injections had stopped working, he reassured her that it was a common thing in this situation.
Lucy was offered shots every ten weeks instead of four, and for a while it worked so effectively that hysterectomy began to seem unnecessary.
Later she had problems associated with temporary menopause, into which she was injected. In particular, her bone tissue was losing density. This often leads to osteoporosis, a systemic skeletal disorder that reduces bone strength.
She was prescribed hormone replacement therapy, but it only made Lucy worse.
Then she made the final decision. In December 2016, at the age of 28, she underwent a hysterectomy.
Lucy after a hysterectomy in the hospital
Until then, she had often asked herself if this was really the only right decision.
In the year after the operation, despite recurrent migraines, Lucy managed to do more than in the previous ten years. She qualified and now works as a teaching assistant and does work for which she thought she would never be healthy enough.
“It is still difficult for me to believe that I will always feel this way,” Lucy confesses.
She does not regret the lost years: “In the end I won. And I was lucky that it was something that responded to treatment and met the right people on my way. I know that when I was younger, my symptoms were associated with PMDD. I have no doubt about that. It’s just that the diagnosis was not yet as common as it is now. ”
“People just brushed it off, saying that everyone has PMS, but my problem was different.”Lucy regrets that the doctors did not take her seriously after the birth of her second child, when her condition became simply unbearable.
“I’m so sorry no one listened to me before. If you feel the same way as I did then, you obviously have big health problems.”
The operation affected not only the life of Lucy herself, but also the lives of those around her. Her husband Martin, a musician, can now work harder because Lucy can devote more time to her children. Toby is old enough to notice a change for the better in his mother.
Lucy hopes Bella does not remember her as she was before she was cured of PMDD. Now their family is happier.
“Do people always live like this? They have no idea how lucky they are. I can never take such a life for granted,” says Lucy.
How to make life easier during your period – Wonderzine
Text: Karina Sembe
MENSTRUATION is a natural PROCESS , which is not easy for many of us.Lack of information and the ability to speak openly about this topic makes us perceive mood swings, body aches, changes in appetite and other accompanying signs as something wrong or embarrassing. Often times, this causes us to ignore the needs of our body and each month we decide to endure instead of trying to alleviate our lot. Remember, most women face similar problems and can be solved. Here are some proven ways to make your period easier and more enjoyable.
Find the optimal hygiene product
Incorrectly selected hygiene products often cause discomfort during your period. Many of us are just used to the products we met in adolescence, but since then, development has gone ahead. Now there are plenty to choose from, from organic cotton swabs that reduce the risk of toxic shock syndrome, to different menstrual cups that are placed in the vagina to collect secretions.The latter serve for a long time, for the most part are environmentally friendly, in addition, you can not worry about replacing them all day – others can be worn up to twelve hours, but you must be sure to focus on the recommendations of manufacturers and the amount of discharge.
Carry wet wipes with you to solve hygiene issues anywhere and anytime. If you experience leaks frequently, carry a spare set of underwear with you. Most importantly, remember that menstrual blood is as natural as sweat or tears.Don’t be ashamed of your discharge, the need to use hygiene products, or the fact that you look or feel different during this time.
Seek medical attention
In some cases, severe PMS and painful or heavy periods may be a sign of illness. Do not neglect a medical examination: if there is a problem, it is unlikely to disappear by itself and can lead to consequences that are more serious than pain in the lower abdomen. In addition, the gynecologist will tell you how to make your periods less painful and, if necessary, reduce their duration to normal.
Prescribing birth control pills helps many women. They contain progesterone and estrogen, two steroid hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle and shape the period. In the material on menstruation, we talked about combined oral contraceptives, designed to reduce the number of periods from twelve or more to three or four a year, and then completely eliminate them. In any case, each organism has its own characteristics and needs, and different types of OK courses should be prescribed with special care – taking into account all possible contraindications and side effects.If necessary, ask your doctor to choose the optimal pain reliever – their self-administration is also not recommended.
Pay attention to your body
Please yourself and relax if possible. Take a warm salt bath – just don’t let the water get too hot, otherwise blood vessels will dilate and bleeding may intensify. Think about the delights of a nap and the importance of a night’s rest. Remember to take good care of your skin. Due to the change in hormone levels, her needs may change, so determine what special products can be administered during this period.Some may experience increased sebum production and breakouts during their period: mild acid cleansing lotions or balancing serums may help. For others, the skin becomes dehydrated and flaky and requires intense hydration.
Physical activity can help you distract yourself and relieve pain. Gynecologists believe that the horizontal position reduces the tone of the uterus, increasing pain. So during painful periods, lying in a layer is not the only way out.We also do not recommend running to crossfit or squatting with a barbell on the first day, but if you feel strong enough, take a brisk walk: the blood supply to the pelvic organs will improve and spasms will decrease. Gentle stretching on the floor or gentle yoga can help relax your back, abdomen, and hip muscles. If your period is smooth, penetrative sex and masturbation won’t hurt either – for many, it even helps relieve pain.
Take care of emotional comfort
Easy to say, harder to do.We have already said that in terms of emotions, PMS and menstruation are not easy and certainly not funny. Not only that everything hurts – the sensations and reactions are exacerbated, and it is not always possible to control them. Modern scientists consider premenstrual syndrome as a disorder of the central nervous system, which is influenced by external factors, congenital or acquired lability of the nervous and endocrine systems and hormonal changes within the cycle. During your period, this instability can persist, so it is very important to start by accepting this fact and not blaming yourself.
At work, they rarely give time off directly due to painful periods. But if you know that they are usually hard to bear, find a way to explain to management the need to work from home. For those who are still forced to endure pain and a broken state on their legs, we advise you to postpone attempts to solve all matters at once for a couple of days and give yourself at least an emotional time off. If possible, put aside questions that are guaranteed to increase anxiety, and if unresolved issues make you anxious, tackle them after planning everything.Don’t hold back your feelings too much so as not to exacerbate the stress, but remember it’s important not to overstep other people’s boundaries.
Eat meaningfully and with pleasure
In spite of everything, eat regularly. If you feel nauseous and there is no desire to cram a full meal into yourself, do not fight with yourself: fresh vegetables, a couple of grain breads, yogurt or sour fruits will go well for a meal. The main thing is not to let the body become depleted. If during your period you are always hungry and can easily swallow a can of Nutella, accept your desires, but control the quality and quantity of what you eat.We have already discussed how to eat healthy, reducing the amount of sugar consumed and not limiting yourself too much.
In any case, do not blame yourself: chocolate will bring much more pleasure and, perhaps, less harm than constant self-restraint. Recommendations about nutrition during menstruation are very different and often contradict each other. We only note that scientists do not recommend leaning on dairy products: often cheese and milk are overly saturated, and the casein contained in them is associated with the development of inflammatory processes.However, the sensitivity to casein, lactose and other components of milk is individual. The most important thing is not to deny yourself what you love, because inner comfort is more important than adhering to the calorie norm.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women: signs and symptoms
Do you often have a pulling menstrual pain in the lower abdomen? Feeling extreme mood swings and extreme fatigue? You are not alone in this – we all go through this during menstruation. Understanding the reasons and following a few rules of thumb will help you feel good on critical days – just like any other day.
Do you often wonder what exactly in your body causes these not very strong, but annoying, and sometimes very serious menstrual pains? Let’s take a quick look at the causes of pain during menstruation.
A pulling menstrual pain in the lower abdomen often appears at the beginning of menstruation, after the egg leaves the ovaries and passes through the fallopian tubes. Your uterus begins to contract to speed up the separation of the upper layers of mucose, which causes painful menstrual cramps.
You’ve probably heard that hormones are responsible for mood swings during the menstrual cycle. Depending on the different levels of progesterone and estrogen that may affect the well-being of serotonin in the brain, you may feel tired and irritated during your period, or you may feel energized and in a good mood.
Here are 5 basic simple rules to help you reduce pain during your period and feel as good as possible on these days and any other day:
During periods of pain during menstruation, it is not time to overload your body, however, certain light to moderate-intensity outdoor exercise, such as walking, cycling or swimming, often works wonders.The movement will have a positive effect on your well-being and will help to stretch your abdominal muscles and reduce menstrual pain.
Relax and keep warm!
Place a bottle of warm water on your stomach when lying on the couch, or take a warm shower or bath to improve circulation. Heat dilates blood vessels and relieves tension. What should not be done for pain during menstruation is to take hot baths and go to the bathhouse.
Pamper yourself and cheer yourself up!
Choose a time and go out with friends or watch your favorite movie.Treat yourself to delicious and healthy food. Vegetables and fruits contain trace elements necessary for the female body during pain during menstruation: B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E. By the way, dark chocolate has the ability to reduce appetite and increase serotonin levels.
Stay away from coffee!
Even if drinking coffee every day feels as natural to you as breathing, you should avoid drinking coffee for menstrual cramps. Caffeine constricts blood vessels and can worsen pain during menstruation.In addition, it is known to have a stimulating effect on the nervous system, and in combination with natural mood swings during menstruation, this can lead to a deterioration in your well-being.
Sleep a lot!
There are many reasons why good sleep is important – it maintains hormone and blood sugar levels and gives the body time to recover and forget about menstrual cramps.