How painful are your periods? Most women don’t think twice about it. The pain they have during their menstrual cycle is reflexively deemed normal and accepted as part of “being a woman.” Maybe you have thought, is this abnormal? And even went as far as to ask your doctor about it during your annual exam. Often, women who complain about menstrual pain are told that it’s nothing to be concerned about and are given the advice to take an over-the-counter pain reliever–as if the thought never crossed their mind.
If you’ve experienced excruciating period pain, our doctors at My Virtual Physician are here to offer support and healing. Our Las Vegas gynecology team has decades of experience working with women who suffer from painful periods. In this blog, we tackle the topic of painful periods head on. We’ll cover the questions you have about your menstrual pain, including:
Pain is a funny thing; it’s a sensation, and it can’t be objectively measured or observed like other symptoms, such as heavy bleeding or abnormal vaginal discharge. Instead, it’s up to you to notice if your pain is out of the ordinary.
This is usually done by using a pain scale. If you think your pain might be abnormal, start keeping track of where you’re at on the pain scale. If you find that you’re above a 5, or if your period interferes with day-to-day functioning and enjoyment, then it may be time to take a deeper look into the cause of your pain.
When it comes to menstrual pain, women usually experience some prolonged, dull muscle cramping along with sharp, quick spasms, both of which help shed the uterine lining each month. Here are some signs of abnormal period pain:
If you’re experiencing abnormal period pain, then you may wonder if it’s endometriosis. Since over 10% of menstruating women suffer from endometriosis, it’s important to consider the possibility. Maybe you’ve heard of the condition–but what is it, and what’s it have to do with period pain?
Endometriosis is an abnormality that can cause serious period pain. The pain from endometriosis is described as stabbing, chronic, and unrelenting. It can also spread to different parts of the body. Doctors don’t know what causes endometriosis, but they do have an explanation for the cause of the pain that accompanies it.
The pain from endometriosis is caused by endometrial tissue growing in parts of the body where they don’t belong. These cells are only supposed to grow inside the womb, but with endometriosis, this endometrial tissue grows elsewhere. It grows on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other organs. This wreaks havoc on a woman’s insides because the tissue swells and bleeds, just like the tissue inside the uterus, except it has no way to leave the body.
Women with endometriosis often have chronic pain that doesn’t go away when their period stops; instead, they continue to experience discomfort in the lower back and pelvis throughout the month. Sex can also be painful for women with the condition because it can affect the abnormal endometrial tissue. Intestinal and bowel pain are also not uncommon in women affected by endometriosis.
Here’s a list of all of the chronic symptoms of endometriosis:
Diagnosing endometriosis can be challenging since it is an internal growth of tissues that cannot be observed through a typical pelvic exam. If you are experiencing the symptoms above, schedule an appointment to discuss them with your doctor. Our team of gynecologists is available to meet virtually online or through our hybrid clinics located in Las Vegas.
Even normal period pain, called dysmenorrhea, can cause enough discomfort that you seek relief. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends treating the pain with medication such as NSAIDs, including ibuprofen or naproxen, since they affect the hormone involved in reproductive tissue formation.
A second approach for relieving serious period pain may be to begin using certain hormonal birth control medications to regulate your periods and encourage a reduction of pain. For endometriosis, a GnRH agonist medication may be used, but these medications come with side effects.
If you prefer not to use medications to manage your period pain, there are other treatments available. Some relief can come by incorporating exercise, heat, sleep, and relaxation into your routine during your period. Acupuncture, acupressure, physical therapy, nerve stimulation, and biofeedback techniques are other non-standard routes of treating chronic period pain.
If your period discomfort is still debilitating after you’ve tried the pain management methods above, a doctor’s visit is in order. When you call our online gynecology team based out of Las Vegas, you can rest assured that our doctors will take your concerns seriously by providing a comfortable and welcoming environment to discuss diagnostic testing and treatment options.
The saying “no pain, no gain” fails to hold true when it comes to a woman’s period. We hope that by reading the material above, you can now decipher the “normal” period pain from something more serious. Don’t live your life dreading that time of month anymore; call our board-certified gynecologists today to discuss your pain and relief options.