Menstruation and pain seem to go hand-in-hand for most women, so it’s often taken as a fact of life. However, it’s important to know that there are different types of menstrual pain (called dysmenorrhea) and that there are different ways to manage this discomfort. You don’t need to suffer through severe period pain and your gynecologist can help. Here’s what to know about menstrual pain and what you can do about it.
This type of period pain includes symptoms usually associated with periods like cramps, breast pain, headaches, and migraines. These are often caused by hormonal activity as the uterus sheds its lining. Cramps don’t need to affect only the lower stomach— many women experience them in the lower back and thighs, as well. Additionally, some women experience headaches and migraines during ovulation as well as during their period. Fortunately, primary dysmenorrhea can often be managed with over-the-counter painkillers and heating implements. If this doesn’t provide relief, then you should see your gynecologist.
This type of pain often shows up later in life and is the result of underlying disorders of the reproductive system. This pain can be more severe, last longer, and be more difficult to treat. Conditions that can cause this type of pain include:
Endometriosis means that uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus. Like the linings inside the uterus, it sheds during each period cycle, but doesn’t have any way to exit the body. This causes an inflammatory response and thus, pain. Endometriosis can be very difficult to treat and manage, so it’s important to partner with your gynecologist. Usually, first-line treatment for endometriosis includes hormonal birth control.
There are a few different types of fibroids, but certain kinds can cause pain. Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that occur in or around the uterus. Along with causing discomfort, these can sometimes interfere with your chances of becoming pregnant, so it’s important to see your gynecologist about your options. However, many women who have fibroids experience no ill effects and may not even know they have them until they undergo an ultrasound.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS happens when your hormones become out of balance. This can cause irregular, heavy periods; excess hair growth or loss, weight gain, insulin resistance, skin conditions, and certain mental health conditions. It can also cause severe period pain. Certain hormonal medications are the best ways to begin treatment for this, so your gynecologist can recommend your best options.
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If period pain seems like too much to handle, then it’s time to see a gynecologist who can provide the compassionate care you need. To get started and meet with our award-winning team, contact our New York City office by calling or filling out our online form.