For more than half of the population, menstruation, or having a period, is a healthy process and function of reproductive health. While periods keep our bodies safe from several health issues, they sometimes become pretty painful, but doctors don't often go into detail when it comes to added chemicals and how they affect our bodies. Period pain can be caused by reproductive illnesses like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), endometriosis, other underlying health issues, and can be related to synthetic ingredients in your hygiene products.
What's inside of my pads and tampons?
Many period care products are made using synthetic ingredients like nylon which is a breeding ground for bacteria. Some of these products often leak their additives directly into your body and bloodstream when placed in or near your vagina (tampons, sanitary pads, etc.).
Let’s discover more about period pains, cramp relief methods, and the best sanitary products for feminine hygiene.
Periods begin when the uterus starts to shed its lining. The process usually happens once a month every 28-35 days for most menstruators. Most periods start between the ages of 11-17 years old. However, in some cases, it could start earlier.
Subtle forms of pain, cramps, and discomfort are common in menstruation, but it becomes concerning when the pain is so severe that you have to miss gym class, work, or school or have your day disrupted. The medical term for painful periods is dysmenorrhea.
Most people experience two types of dysmenorrhea (or period pain):
Primary Dysmenorrhea: It refers to the pain occurring before and during menstruation.
Secondary Dysmenorrhea: People who start with regular and painless periods but begin experiencing severe pain later in life may have secondary dysmenorrhea. It can be caused due to endometriosis or uterine fibroids, a health condition of the uterus or other pelvic organs.
Can period pain be normal?
Period pain is normal. The pain is considered problematic when it becomes impossible for a female to tolerate it. Excessive period pain can affect the usual daily activities of a woman. The pain may be cramps, continuous pressure in any area, or unbearable pain.
While many health conditions, such as endometriosis, can cause menstrual pain, chemicals in pads can also cause discomfort, like rashes and inflammation. Many feminine products contain hazardous chemicals, such as carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, reproductive toxins, and allergens that cause a burning or itching sensation in or around the vagina. These chemicals can result in several health issues as well.
It was found that up to 86% of US women use tampons or pads filled with chemicals. But healthier alternatives are more accessible online and in stores. Femly is a 100% organic cotton hygiene company that provides eco-friendly products without additives. We exist to help people have healthier and happier periods.
What are painful periods?
Painful periods refer to menstrual cramps that feel like a throbbing pain in the lower abdomen. Some females also experience continuous aches in their bodies with never-ending pressure. This pain or pressure may also reach your lower back or inner thigh area.
Menstrual cramps usually start a day or two before your period and may continue for 24 hours after the beginning of your period.
What causes painful periods?
The causes of painful periods can be hard to identify because some people are naturally at a higher risk of experiencing them. These include females:
- Under age 20
- With a family history of painful periods
- Smoking excessively
- Experiencing heavy bleeding with periods
- With irregular periods
- Reaching puberty before age 11
Your body has a hormone called prostaglandin that activates uterus muscles to contract and expel the lining. The prostaglandin level usually rises before menstruation starts. These contractions result in inflammation and pain.
Some underlying health issues can also be possible causes of painful periods, including:
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
PMS is a 1 to 2 weeks long phase right before your menstruation. Hormonal changes in the body cause it, and the symptoms usually go away as soon as the bleeding starts.
This painful condition refers to the growth of the cells from the uterus lining to other body parts, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or pelvis.
Fibroids can put extreme pressure on the uterus, resulting in unusual menstruation pain. However, these are noncancerous tumors that don’t cause visible pain symptoms.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
PID refers to the infection in the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes caused by sexually transmitted bacteria. This condition results in pain and inflammation of the reproductive organs.
Adenomyosis is a rare health condition that includes the abnormal growth of the uterus lining into the uterus’ muscular wall. This results in severe pain, pressure, inflammation, and longer or heavier bleeding during menstruation.
Cervial stenosis is another medical condition in which the size of the cervix is so narrow that it constrains the normal menstrual flow. This causes immense pressure on the inside of the uterus, causing severe pain.
What can I do about period pain?
When your periods become hard to tolerate, you can try a few menstrual cramps relief remedies at home. These could include:
- Using a heating pad on your affected areas
- Massaging your lower body or abdomen
- Taking a warm bath
- Exercising regularly
- Having a balanced, nutritious diet
- Practicing meditation or yoga
- Sitting or lying in comfortable positions
- Curbing excessive salt, caffeine, or sugar intake
- Switching to sanitary products made of organic materials for optimum hygiene and preventing hazardous chemicals that cause rashes and inflammation.
- Taking vitamins and supplements such as vitamin B-6, vitamin B-1, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, etc.
- Taking anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, a few days before your menstruation
When should I get medical help for my period pain?
When period pain starts impacting your ability to perform daily tasks every month, it’s high time you take medical help from a professional gynecologist. Observe these symptoms in your body for a few days:
- Continuous pain after any birth control treatment
- A minimum of three painful menstrual periods
- Blood clots in your menstrual blood
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Cramps with diarrhea and nausea
- Pelvic pain before or after menstruation
If you experience one or more of these changes in your body, seek medical help as soon as possible.
What are treatments for severe period pain?
A doctor will recommend medical treatment if any DIY or at-home remedy doesn’t work for your cramp relief. They will examine the severity of your pain and its possible underlying causes.
If it’s an infection, such as PID, the doctor will prescribe you a proper antibiotics course to eliminate the infection. Some other medications for period pain relief include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These over-the-counter drugs are readily available in your nearest drugstore, or you can get prescription-strength NSAIDs from your healthcare provider.
Antidepressants. These help in the management of mood swings in PMS.
Other pain relievers. These include acetaminophen (Tylenol) or more potent prescription pain medications.
Some doctors may also recommend hormonal birth control, available in the form of a vaginal ring, patch, implant, pills, or IUD. These devices will manage your hormones during ovulation and may lessen your menstrual cramps.
Another treatment for painful periods is undergoing surgery to treat endometriosis or uterine fibroids. However, doctors choose this last resort when no other treatment works out. The surgery clears the uterus from uterine fibroids, cysts, and endometriosis implants.
When to see a doctor
Remember that sudden intense cramps or pelvic pain can also be signs of infection. If left untreated, such conditions can lead to tissue scars that damage your pelvic organs, leading to infertility. So it’s vital to maintain your personal hygiene even when you’re on periods.
Femly has organic female sanitary products, including panty liners, menstrual cups, and pads, that promote your health. These are non-toxic period essentials made of organic cotton with no additives, dyes, chemicals, or fragrances.
If the pain persists even after trying all at-home remedies and switching to organic sanitary products, seek proper medical attention immediately.
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