Why stomach pain during menstruation
In medicine, pain during menstruation is called dysmenorrhea. When a new menstrual cycle begins, hormones like prostaglandins are produced in the endometrium (the mucosa that lines the uterine cavity). They cause the uterus to contract greatly, thus provoking vascular spasms. The flow of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues is reduced, as a result of unpleasant sensations and pain.
What pain is considered normal
There are no clear criteria. Discomfort usually appears 12 hours before or on the first day of menstruation and can last from 2 hours to several days until the end of your period. The pain can be cramping, aching, tugging, bursting, and can spread to the hips, rectum, appendages and bladder. Sometimes dysmenorrhea is accompanied by dizziness, migraine, disorders of the intestines, and in severe cases, nausea and vomiting.
“Severe manifestations with nausea and vomiting must be treated,” the doctors say. – As a rule, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and oral contraceptives help. “Psychotherapy should not be discounted: for some women, menstruation is especially difficult due to the psychoemotional state.”
How to deal with pain
Take your usual pain medication. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and acetylsalicylic acid reduce pain and prostaglandins.
Go to an osteopath or have a massage. Studies confirm that in some cases, soft body manipulations really improve well-being: they help to relax and stimulate the blood supply to tissues. The main thing is to avoid direct exposure to the stomach.
Put a heating pad on your stomach, take a warm bath or shower. According to studies, heat significantly reduces pain: the effect of a warming patch is comparable to that of ibuprofen, and thermal wraps work better than paracetamol.
Go to workout. Exercise improves the blood supply to the pelvic organs and stimulates the production of beta-endorphins, which act as an anesthetic. The intensity of the activity depends on individual preferences, but it is better to choose the types of load that do not increase intra-abdominal pressure. For example, running, walking and swimming are suitable, and it is better to abstain from exercises on the press and inverted poses in yoga. In addition, you should not lift heavy weight so as not to provoke a return flow of blood through the fallopian tubes to the abdominal cavity: this can increase pain and increase the risk of endometriosis. In severe dysmenorrhea, it is better to refuse physical activity.
Take oral contraceptives. They suppress ovulation and inhibit the growth of the endometrium, due to which less prostaglandins are produced. As a result, the pain becomes less intense or disappears altogether. Appropriate therapy should be prescribed by a doctor based on the results of examination and laboratory tests.
In which cases you need to see a doctor
“If you notice unusual symptoms during menstruation – there were severe pains that did not exist before, menstruation became more plentiful or, conversely, poorer, the cycle was broken or the usual painkillers stopped helping,” you should consult a gynecologist. For example, endometriosis may be hidden under the manifestations of dysmenorrhea, in which oral contraceptives should never be used, but a completely different therapy is indicated up to surgery. ”
Other possible causes of severe pain during menstruation:
- uterine fibroids (benign tumor in the muscle layer of the uterus);
- inflammatory process in the small pelvis, which can be caused by chlamydial infection, gonorrhea and other STIs;
- varicose veins of the pelvis;
- polycystic ovary syndrome;
- ectopic pregnancy.
- Of course, only a doctor can diagnose and select the appropriate therapy.