Although menstruation is a perfectly normal cyclical process for the female body, it can cause discomfort. Some lifestyle choices can have an impact on your monthly experiences.
Period pain is due to muscle contractions caused by biologically active lipids called prostaglandins. These contractions push blood and endometrium from the uterus. The more prostaglandins there are in your body, the more powerful the contractions and the more discomfort you will feel; powerful contractions can block adjacent arteries, inhibiting oxygen supply to the uterus and causing pain.
Extreme menstrual pain caused by excessive levels of prostaglandins is called dysmenorrhea. In some cases, it can be indicative of serious health problems—if you experience this, visit your doctor.
A narrow uterine opening, excess weight, smoking or drinking, an irregular menstrual cycle, or prolonged periods of stress are all things that can have a negative impact on your period. Your genetics may also be at fault: a woman’s painful periods can be passed on to her daughter.
There is no single magic pill that can take the discomfort away for everyone. One woman might only need an extra hour of rest, another will swear by meditation or yoga, another might only find refuge in painkillers. For some, dietary changes or supplements, herbal teas, kinesiology tape, acupuncture, or massage may prove effective. Some doctors advise against heat, because it can increase bleeding—others recommend warm baths, or a hot water bottle applied to the abdomen for the relaxing effect.
Consult your gynaecologist for the method best suited for you.
Does your age affect the intensity of menstrual cramps? What concerns should you bring to your doctor? Read more about menstrual pain here.