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Are painful periods normal? When you should see a doctor

Health - By Esther Muchene | June 13th 2020 at 08:15:00 GMT +0300
Period pain can hinder you from going about your daily life (Photo: Shutterstock)

Before you get a panic attack, it’s not unusual to experience some pain during your period.

Why does this happen? Hormonal changes that occur during your cycle and more specifically during your period, trigger muscle contractions which we call cramps.

If you’re lucky, the pain is mild and you might not feel it at all. But for some women, it's excruciating enough to make you toss and turn all night and that’s not really a good sign at all.

Although pain is part and parcel of most women’s periods, there are certain symptoms that could be a sign of a bigger problem.

If you find yourself in so much agony you can’t sit, think or function, you may need to consult a doctor. Here’s what to look out for.

  • Your cramps have been getting worse with time

It can be quite alarming if you notice your cramps have been getting intense through the years. Maybe your cramps were mild at the beginning but they seem to get more severe. If this is the case, this isn’t a sign you should ignore.

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  • The pain is accompanied by other unusual symptoms

There are times when the period pain might be painful. But there are other worrying signs that show you should get in touch with a doctor as soon as possible. Some unusual signs include heavy bleeding during your period, bleeding between periods, pain that persists for a couple of days at once, pelvic pain, presence of blood clots and pain during sex.

  • The discomfort interrupts with your daily life

Period pains don’t usually affect your daily life. Unless you’ve had painful cramps since you started your menses, you should be able to carry on with your day as usual. Severe cramps however can affect your concentration at work or school to the point where you need to take a day off or at least a few hours off until the pain subsides. It can be so bad that you need to be on medication. If your cramps are preventing you from doing what you need to do during the day, you could be having an underlying condition that needs to be diagnosed immediately.

  • Medication doesn’t seem to help

For most women, painkillers offer some much-needed relief from pain and discomfort. Some medications like Buscopan usually offer relief almost instantly. In instances where there are underlying conditions, you’ll notice that the pain persists even after taking medicine. Maybe you’ve even had to get stronger medication with time. This is a sign that you need to go for screening in case there could be a problem.

If you notice the pain is getting worse, you should see your doctor (Photo: Shutterstock)

Conditions that lead to painful periods

There are a couple of conditions that cause these types of symptoms. You have to go for proper testing before you can be diagnosed. Some of these conditions you may be unknowingly suffering from include:

i. Endometriosis

A condition characterized by an overgrowth of endometrial tissues around the pelvic area. It mostly affects women in their 30s and 40s.

ii. Fibroids/Myomas

These are tumors that grow within, beneath or above the uterus. It’s actually a common condition among women and can be corrected by surgery and other non-intrusive treatments.

iii. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is caused by hormonal imbalances and it’s common among obese patients. It might cause cysts in the ovaries and after diagnosis, a patient will receive medication or be required to lose weight if that’s the main concern.

iv. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

This is an advanced sexually transmitted infection that affects the reproductive system. It develops from infections like gonorrhea and chlamydia. Tests have to be carried out to determine the root cause behind it so that the right treatment is administered.

v. Ovarian cysts

This is a symptom of the existing conditions like endometriosis and hormonal imbalances in the body. Cysts are fluid filled sacs that grow on the ovaries and might require surgery as a form of treatment. It is also important to note that some types of cysts go away on their own over time.

vi. Cervical stenosis

This is a condition that affects your cervical opening. It alters your menstrual flow and can be treated through surgery, medication and other forms of treatment.

That said, it’s better to go for a checkup when you feel something is off. But if you generally have painful periods, you can find some home remedies like using a hot water bottle and over the counter medications. Focus more on managing stress and exercise regularly to prevent painful cramps during your period.

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