Pain is the reason why most girls fear their periods. Menstrual cramps is something that almost every woman bears each month. The technical term used for such cramps or pain is “dysmenorrhea”, which is a Greek word meaning “difficult monthly flow”.
Pain is experienced due to the contraction of the uterus, when it sheds its lining during menstruation. It occurs because of a hormone-like substance, called prostaglandins, that our uterus produces. This substance makes the uterus contract. The contracting uterus gives us that uneasy cramping feeling. Prostaglandins levels are high when menstruation starts and gradually decreases as the period progresses.
Two Different Kinds of Period Pains
There are basically two types of pain or cramps that you might experience:
1. Primary Dysmenorrhea: This commonly occurs in teenage girls, at the beginning of the menstrual cycle and occurs without any underlying medical conditions. The irritable cramping pain can occur due to a contraction of the uterus, in order to shed its lining. It can also be caused by limited supply of blood to the uterus. The pain can extend from the lower part of the abdomen towards the back and further on to the thighs. This is a completely normal experience, causing mild discomfort in women. In case the pain is unbearable, some easy home treatments can make the monthly flow easier, thereby reducing the pain, such as using a hot water bag on the stomach.
2. Secondary Dysmenorrhea: This pain is not just limited to time of menstruation but can occur at any time during the cycle. It can make the flow heavier and continue for more days than usual. Pain can be experienced during intercourse as well. In certain cases, secondary dysmenorrhea can be due to certain medical conditions, like:
· Sexually transmitted diseases
· Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS
· Pelvic infections
· Adenomyosis, in which the uterine lining extends into the wall of the uterus
· Endometriosis, in which the uterus lining thickens and causes pain
· Non-cancerous tumors or fibroids in the uterus
· Intrauterine devices (IUDs) made of copper
· Cervical stenosis, in which the cervix is not big enough for even flow
How to Reduce Menstrual Cramps
Some home remedies that you can try to reduce the pain include:
· Gently massage the abdomen
· Use a heating pad on the back or the pelvic area
· Stay physically active with some simple exercises through the month.
· Practice yoga and meditation
· Bathe with warm water or sit in warm water
· Avoid heavy and oily foods, as well as excessive salt, caffeine and sugar, since they cause bloating and can exacerbate the pain
If none of the above methods work to reduce the period pain, it is advisable to visit a doctor.