If you’re someone who has a menstrual cycle, chances are you’re all too familiar with painful symptoms that accompany that time of the month. Unfortunately, some discomfort—like cramping, headaches, and mood swings—is typical. However, intense pain and extreme emotional sensitivity interrupting your daily life could indicate additional health issues or abnormalities.
There are numerous reasons you may experience added or worsened symptoms during your period, from endometriosis to birth control side effects, to uterine fibroids. Because there are various diagnoses associated with irregular or painful cycle symptoms, you should speak to a qualified physician before introducing treatment.
If you’re suffering from painful periods, read on for five common causes to discuss with your OBGYN and remedies to try out while you wait for results.
Unfortunately, it may take some trial and error to pin down what’s causing your painful periods. While searching for solutions, consider researching how to get rid of cramps or other ailments to find temporary remedies to your pain. Between heating pads, pain relievers, light exercise, and herbal teas, there are plenty of ways to ease discomfort until you can see a doctor and get to the bottom of your symptoms.
What’s causing your painful period?
Although rarely discussed in reproductive education programs, endometriosis is a pervasive disease that affects nearly one in ten reproductive-aged individuals. This condition occurs when uterine cells begin to develop outside the uterus, typically on the fallopian tubes or pelvic tissue, causing painful cramping and aching. Unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis, but there are doctor-recommended treatments, like pain medications, surgeries, and heat therapy.
An astonishing number of people with periods have uterine fibroids, though most are microscopic, leaving no trace or symptom behind. However, for those who experience enlarged fibroids, pain and discomfort can be extreme. Additionally, your menstrual cycle will likely be irregular and heavy, making it difficult to track and manage. Luckily, you can treat fibroids with various birth control methods or medical procedures when necessary.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
PID is typically transmitted sexually through bacterial spreading, which infiltrates the fallopian tubes, uterus, or ovaries, causing intense cramping, heavy bleeding, and painful inflammation. If left untreated, PID can lead to ectopic pregnancies, infectious abscesses, and built-up scar tissue that can permanently damage the reproductive system. Fortunately, medical professionals can quickly treat PID with antibiotics.
Many fertile individuals utilize IUDs as a functional form of non-hormonal birth control. IUDs administer copper continuously, effectively killing sperm and preventing egg implantation. However, although these devices benefit many, they can also cause complications, including intense pain and bleeding. While patients can expect some pain for the first few cycles, they shouldn’t ignore continued discomfort. If you suspect your IUD may be intensifying your period, contact your physician as soon as possible.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Another common disorder affecting period-havers is PCOS, a hormone irregularity that causes abnormal, painful periods, excessive hair growth, weight fluctuations, and decreased fertility. Medical professionals can treat this disorder with hormone-based birth control, medications, and procedures.
Irregular, intensified periods are more than just frustrating or annoying. They’re often debilitating. Luckily, reproductive specialists can diagnose and treat the most common ailments responsible for menstrual abnormalities. If you suspect your symptoms are out of the ordinary, talk with a trusted physician about possible causes and treatments.