An estimated 80 percent of women experience cramps at some stage. Most women experience some discomfort during menstruation, especially on the first day. But in 5 per cent to 10 per cent of women, the pain is severe enough to disrupt their life.
There are many ways to treat period cramps. Some include home remedies like applying heat or cold to the area, taking painkillers like ibuprofen or aspirin, and eating certain foods like bananas, figs, tomatoes, asparagus, and papaya.
In some cases of severe period cramps, you may need to see a doctor or gynecologist.
What are the Symptoms of Cramps During the Period?
Menstrual cramps symptoms can vary depending on the individual, but they typically include a throbbing pain that begins 1-3 days before your period. The pain intensifies 24 after starting your period and lasts for 2-3 days.
The pain may also be localized to one or both thighs or the lower back.
In some women, nausea, headache, dizziness, and loose stool accompany cramping.
What Causes Cramping During Period?
There are many potential causes of menstrual cramps, and the underlying cause is often difficult to determine. However, some common causes include endometriosis, uterine fibroids, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and cervical stenosis.
- Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it. Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that can grow in the uterus and cause severe pain during menstruation.
- Adenomyosis is a condition in which there is an abnormal accumulation of cells in the uterine wall.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a potentially life-threatening infection caused by bacteria or viruses affecting female reproductive organs.
- Cervical stenosis is a narrowing of the neck of the womb (cervix) that can cause pain during menstruation.
Who is at Risk?
People who are at risk of cramps during periods are:
- Women younger than 30
- Women who started puberty at age 11 or younger
- Women who don’t exercise regularly engage in heavy physical activity
- Who have a family history of menstrual problems
- Who take birth-control pills containing progesterone hormone-based contraceptives containing estrogen
- Women who smoke
How Do You Diagnose Menstrual Cramps?
If you’re experiencing menstrual cramps, there are a few things your doctor will do to help diagnose the problem. First, they will try to identify the cause of the cramps.
Some women experience menstrual cramps because of contractions in their uterus muscles. Other women may experience pelvic pain or pressure due to bloating and gas.
If contractions are the only symptom, your doctor may recommend doing an ultrasound exam to see if anything else is happening with your uterus, such as pregnancy or a fibroid tumor.
Other imaging tests that may be done include CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Your doctor will also want to perform a physical exam to rule out other causes of pelvic pain, such as ovarian cysts or bladder infections.
If your cramps are consistent and severe, your doctor may recommend undergoing a laparoscopy. This procedure involves making an incision in your abdomen and using a long, narrow scope to look inside your uterus.
How to Manage Cramping During Period
Pain relief is one of the most important aspects of treating menstrual cramps. The most effective pain relievers are those that work both systemically and locally. Systemic analgesics, such as ibuprofen reduce inflammation and pain throughout the body—local analgesics, such as acetaminophen or naproxen work specifically in the area where the pain is felt.
Hormonal birth control methods such as birth control pills and patches can effectively treat menstrual cramps. Birth control pills work by preventing ovulation, which reduces the number of female hormones available to cause cramps. In addition, some birth control patches release a small number of hormones directly into the bloodstream to relieve cramps.
IUDs are another type of hormonal birth control that can effectively treat menstrual cramps.
Surgery is another option for treating severe cramps; a hysterectomy may be necessary in cases where the cause cannot be identified or treated.
Lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, reducing stress, and getting enough exercise can also help lessen the severity of menstrual cramps. Finally, home remedies such as soaking in hot water or taking ginger can also help relieve cramps.
In conclusion, cramps during your period are caused by contractions in the uterus. While there is no one cure for cramps, there are a few things that you can do to help ease the pain.
Try using a heating pad, taking an over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen, or drinking warm tea.
If your cramps are bad, talk to your doctor about prescription medication.