Abdominal pain during periods is a very common issue affecting women. Adhering to a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, physical activity, mental relaxation, etc., improves the ability to cope with pain. In this article, you will learn about menstruation and its phases, types of menstrual pain, its management, and home remedies.
During the menstrual phase of a menstrual cycle, the lining in a woman's uterus usually sheds, which is called menses, period, or a cycle. The menstrual cycle in fertile females can occur every 28 days, on average. The length of each cycle may also vary between 26 and even 36 days.
The menstrual cycle consists of four phases controlled by the endocrine system, which includes the menstruation phase, follicular phase, ovulation phase, and luteal phase.
The menstrual cycle can be divided into four phases, namely:
Menstruation Phase: On the first day of the menstrual cycle, the uterus lining, prepared for implantation, sheds and may last for about 3 to 5 days typically. This phase is known as the menstrual phase.
Follicular Phase: Follicular phase is the second phase where a mature egg follicle releases an egg from one of the ovaries. At this stage, the uterus starts to prepare for another pregnancy.
Ovulatory Phase: This phase is also called the mid-cycle phase, in which ovulation takes place. It usually occurs from the 13th to the 17th day. The end of the follicular phase, including the ovulation phase, constitutes the fertilization period.
Luteal Phase: Post ovulation phase is the luteal phase, where the fate of the corpus luteum is decided. If fertilization occurs, pregnancy will start. If fertilization does not occur, it marks the onset of another cycle.
Pain during menstruation is usually caused due to prostaglandins, the chemicals your uterus makes. These chemicals tighten and relax your uterus muscles and cause these cramps, which start a day or two before your period.
Period pain can be classified into two types, namely:
Primary Period Pain (Primary Dysmenorrhea): When the uterus structure is normal, and the underlying cause is unknown.
Secondary Period Pain (Secondary Dysmenorrhea): When the pelvic abnormality causes the pain.
Abdominal pain during periods is a very common issue affecting 40-70% of women in the reproductive age group. In medical terms, we call this a dysmenorrhoea. This is associated with significant psychological, physical, behavioral, and social distress. Usually, it starts with the onset of periods and gets relieved once the flow begins. The exact cause is not known. Sometimes it may be a result of fibroids (lumps), endometriosis, infections, etc. In these cases, we have to first treat the cause along with painkillers to relieve pain.
Women traditionally have been programmed to bear pain instead of seeking ways to relieve pain. This attitude is prevalent even among the educated and more aware, progressive women of our society. As a result, there is a compromise in daily functioning, creativity, and productivity which manifests as social withdrawal, school, and college absenteeism, frequent sick leave at the workplace, etc.
Adhering to a healthy lifestyle, like, a balanced diet, physical activity, mental relaxation, etc., will improve the ability to cope with pain. Painkillers can be taken as advised by your gynecologist after consultation. Non-hormonal preparations are tried first, as second-line hormonal preparations are available.
Treating the cause is as important as treating the pain. In intractable situations, surgery may be the last resort.
PMS - Premenstrual Syndrome:
Premenstrual Syndrome: This group of physical and emotional symptoms may occur two weeks before your period. These symptoms will normally get resolved once your period starts and usually disappear by the end of your period.
Almost all women will have premenstrual symptoms. Each woman's symptoms might be different, but the most commonly occurring symptoms are:
Feeling depressed, irritable, or bad-tempered.
Feeling upset, anxious, or emotional without any reason.
Sore or tender breasts.
Tiredness or trouble sleeping.
Changes in appetite and food cravings.
Feeling clumsy, fluid retention, and feeling bloated.
Changes in skin or hair.
Every woman may not have all these symptoms, and only a few may experience them. The symptoms form a pattern over time. Symptoms can be the same each month or different sometimes. To assess your symptom's severity and make a diagnosis, your doctor will ask you to fill a symptom diary.
Initially, you can take some positive steps to try and improve the symptoms by doing exercise, eating a healthy balanced diet by decreasing the intake of sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol, and increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables. And other ways like reducing the stress and talking with your friends or partner will also help.
Keep track of your symptoms by tracing your period's cycle and your emotions during menstruation.
Add some necessary lifestyle changes.
Exercise every day to release happy hormones.
PMS symptoms can be reduced by the following medications:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Used in relieving pain in primary dysmenorrhea.
Oral contraceptives: Improves symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea.
Women can get relief from PMS symptoms using herbs like ginkgo, ginger, chaste berry (Vitex Agnus), and evening primrose oil. According to a study, it has been stated that herbs are adequate for the relief of PMS symptoms. Other remedies to relieve PMS symptoms are:
Abdomen massage with essential oils.
5–10% of women get PMS which is severe enough to prevent them from getting on with their daily lives. A minimal number of women get a more intense form of PMS, known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which can be treated with medicines.
Last reviewed at:
04 Oct 2021 - 4 min read
Query: Hello doctor, I have severe and uncomfortable abdominal pain when I have my monthly period. My menstrual cycle and pain last for 5 to 6 days each month. Read Full »
Query: Hi doctor, I had unprotected sex 19 days back. My period is always regular and my expected date was in the first week the following month. I had uneasiness and fatigue by the end of last month. Left side upper abdominal pain started a week back. It comes occasionally and goes on its own. Occasionall... Read Full »
Most Popular Articles
Do you have a question on Menstrual Cycle or Abdominal Pain During Periods?Ask a Doctor Online