How do I Treat Menstrual Pain?

Archana Khambekar

Menstrual pain is a problem from which many women suffer. The pain usually occurs in the lower abdomen or the lower back area, and can be mild to severe in intensity. Commonly suggested treatment for menstrual pain includes over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers, or a course of birth control hormones. Supplementation with vitamins and following a healthy lifestyle may also help avoid troublesome symptoms during menstrual days. When painful periods are due to a secondary health condition that can affect the uterus and other reproductive organs, treating the cause could provide relief.

Birth control pills can be taken to help alleviate menstrual pain.
Birth control pills can be taken to help alleviate menstrual pain.

During a menstrual period, a hormone known as prostaglandin initiates uterine muscle contractions to get rid of the uterine lining. Symptoms such as menstrual pain, headache, and diarrhea that a woman may experience are often correlated to the prostaglandins produced by the body. Higher levels of prostaglandins can cause stronger uterine contractions and consequently painful menstrual cramps.

A course of birth control hormones can sometimes ease abdominal cramps during menstruation.
A course of birth control hormones can sometimes ease abdominal cramps during menstruation.

Doctors usually suggest nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) available over-the-counter to alleviate menstrual pain. Medication can be taken a day before the period begins, and through the days the pain persists. Sometimes an anti-inflammatory medication sold on prescription may be recommended. A course of birth control hormones that prevent ovulation, and thus eases cramps, is among the treatment options recommended for menstrual pain. Hormonal birth control treatment is usually available in the form of an oral pill, an injection, a patch to be worn on the skin, and as a ring that can be placed in the vagina.

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Home remedies such as taking a hot bath may help relieve menstrual pain.
Home remedies such as taking a hot bath may help relieve menstrual pain.

Home remedies such as taking a hot bath or placing a heating pad on the lower abdomen may help relieve menstrual pain. Massaging the affected area might help. Dietary supplementation with omega-3, vitamin B1 or thiamine, calcium, and vitamin E can be beneficial in menstrual symptoms. Adopting a balanced diet, cutting back on caffeine in the premenstrual days, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly are among the preventive measures recommended to ward off menstrual discomfort.

Some painful periods can be due to a secondary health condition of the uterus or other reproductive organs.
Some painful periods can be due to a secondary health condition of the uterus or other reproductive organs.

Sometimes however, pain during menstrual period could be a sign of an underlying health problem, in which case treating the specific condition may be necessary. Some women suffer from endometriosis, a disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus becomes implanted in external parts, such as the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, or the pelvis tissue. If a woman is diagnosed with endometriosis, treatment may include pain killers for the cramping and hormone therapy to keep the disease from progressing. Surgery might be advised to eliminate the abnormal endometrial tissue.

An ice pack may be used to help relieve menstrual cramping.
An ice pack may be used to help relieve menstrual cramping.

In some cases, noncancerous tumors in the wall of the uterus known as uterine fibroids might be the reason for period pain. Fibroids can be detected through physical examination and diagnostic tests. Treatment includes NSAIDs, low dose birth control pills and hormone treatment; a doctor might suggest removal of fibroids surgically in more extreme cases. Painful menstrual cramping is also one of the symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease, a bacterial infection that can affect the uterus and other reproductive organs. Antibiotic therapy is usually prescribed to treat this infection.

Menstrual pain typically occurs just before or at the beginning of a woman's menstrual period.
Menstrual pain typically occurs just before or at the beginning of a woman's menstrual period.
Over the counter medication can be used to treat menstrual pain.
Over the counter medication can be used to treat menstrual pain.
Period pain can be caused by uterine fibroids, which will have to be treated for the pain to subside.
Period pain can be caused by uterine fibroids, which will have to be treated for the pain to subside.
An abnormal and painful menstrual flow could signal a case of endometriosis.
An abnormal and painful menstrual flow could signal a case of endometriosis.

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