April 12, 2024

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Recognising typical and uncommon menstrual pain experiences

Period pain is a common issue for menstruators, but understanding what’s normal and how to find relief can be unclear. Severe menstrual cramps are not typical and could indicate an underlying problem. Dr. Anshumala Shukla Kulkarni from Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital explains that while some discomfort during periods is normal, intense pain lasting more than two days or causing you to miss work is not.

Primary dysmenorrhea, occurring before and during menstruation, and secondary dysmenorrhea, developing later in life due to conditions affecting pelvic organs, are the two forms of period pain. Conditions like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, PMS, and more can contribute. Prostaglandin, a hormone that triggers uterine contractions, can lead to pain and inflammation.

Diet and lifestyle play a role. A diet rich in processed foods and sugars can increase inflammation, while fibre-rich meals and exercise can help reduce congestion and inflammation. Strategies to manage period pain include using heating pads, gentle abdominal massages, warm baths, exercise, nutritious eating, relaxation techniques, and anti-inflammatory medications under medical guidance.

Specific instances require medical attention, such as continuing pain after IUD placement, passing blood clots, pelvic pain without menstruation, or pain with diarrhoea and nausea. Factors such as age, family history, smoking, heavy periods, and never having had a baby can heighten the risk. A normal period cycle lasts 22 to 35 days, but deviations should not be ignored. Dr. Kulkarni stresses that although lifestyle changes can help, severe pain or unusual symptoms necessitate a doctor’s consultation.

She warns against dismissing period pain as normal for everyone and emphasises that pain due to conditions like endometriosis can lead to physical and mental health issues if untreated. It’s important not to trivialise symptoms and to consult a gynaecologist if necessary. Period pain isn’t an indication of high maintenance, and seeking medical help is crucial.