Ahhhh menstrual cramping, one of the wonderful symptoms that over 50% of women experience each month with their period. Can you hear my sarcasm there?
I have a long history with painful periods, dysmenorrhea if you want to get fancy about it. In high school, my periods would be so painful that I would vomit, pass out, and have to miss school every month because of it.
Today I want to give you the lowdown on what menstrual cramping is, what causes it, what is normal, and what is not normal. There is no reason your life should come to a screeching halt each month because you are in so much pain.
Why Does Cramping Occur?
So back to our fifth-grade biology class, in which a teacher painfully told you the truth about being a woman. Each month our uterus must shed the lining that it has built up for a potential baby to grow. In order to do this a couple of hormones and other chemical messengers take a role.
For one, progesterone decreases, causing the uterus to contract. Two, tiny chemical messengers called prostaglandins to come to help. Prostaglandins can be found in every tissue in our bodies. They play a key role in inflammation and helping to heal against tissue damage.
When it is time to have your period, your body decreases its production of progesterone. This causes the uterus to begin to contract. Leading to the shedding of your endometrial lining, which is tissue damage. Because of the tissue damage, prostaglandins are released.
Prostaglandins are the little buggers responsible for all that pain we get each month. They stop our blood from clotting during our periods and cause contractions of our uterus so that we can expel all that old stuff. But, these actions come with pain. Too many prostaglandins can lead to incredibly painful periods.
What Is Exactly Normal?
When it comes to pain, we in the medical field have a very hard time defining “normal”. What may be my 2 out of 10 on a pain scale, could be your 15 out of 10. But that doesn’t make it any less real. Again, this is where you are your own expert on your health.
So how can you tell if you need to discuss your period pain with your doctor?
These are some signs that treatment, diet changes, or hormonal supplements may be necessary:
- Having to take Motrin before your period starts, every day of your period, and after it ends to help alleviate the pain
- Motrin does not decrease the level of pain
- Your period cramping causes vomiting or you to lose consciousness
- Your pain stops you from accomplishing your normal daily life
- You experience a fever with your period cramping
One of the many things that are currently changing in medicine is how we treat women’s menstrual pain. For a long time, it was thought of as “a part of our period”, something that most women deal with. But luckily science and research are catching up and starting to see that menstrual pain should be treated like any other pain, with seriousness and treatment options.
Alleviate The Pain
Here are some things you can do to help alleviate this pain:
- A heating pad
- A hot bath
- Turmeric & black pepper
- Acupuncture or Acupressure
- CBD Oil
If your period cramping is getting in the way of your day to day life, please go talk to your doctor. While camping is a part of our monthly cycle, it shouldn’t deviate our lives.