Period Pain: How much is normal
Some pain during your period is completely normal, while severe pain may be a sign of something else.
What to expect
Period pain, also referred to as dysmenorrhoea is most common in adolescent women and women in their 20s. Although most women will experience period pain, some will experience mild to moderate levels of discomfort while others may have more severe pains. Period pain is a result of the muscles in your uterus tightening or contracting vigorously to help the lining of the uterus shed. As the contractions become stronger, it restricts blood flow to the tissue in your uterus, causing the pain you feel in your tummy.
The most common symptoms of period pain are:
- Throbbing or cramping in the lower abdomen
- Lower back pain
- Nausea, headaches or diarrhoea
For how long?
Period pain generally lasts 48-72 hours during each cycle and is most commonly experienced when your period is the heaviest, which for most women is the first few days of their period. The good news is that period pain has been known to go away as women age and may also reduce or completely stop after giving birth.
Remedies for period pain
When experiencing period pain, there are things you can do to help remedy the pain or make it less severe. Some of these things include:
- Warm water bottle on the stomach
- Take a warm bath with sea salt (or baking soda)
- Lower abdominal massage
- Regular exercise
- Eating a well balanced diet
- Getting enough sleep
- Take a mild over the counter pain reliever
When to contact your doctor
Very severe pain and irregular symptoms may be signs of an underlying condition such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or fibroid. If your symptoms are severe, worsening or interfering with your everyday life, seek a professional’s opinion. Your doctor can help you find the source and give you appropriate options for treatment and relief. These conditions are often recognizable with moderate to severe pain in combination with other symptoms like the ones below.
Irregular symptoms to look out for:
- Pain lasting longer than 72 hours
- Pain during or after sex
- Missing work or school due to pain
- Heavy bleeding with or without clots
- Irregular bleeding
- Bowel or bladder pain or dysfunction
- Bleeding longer than normal (or before a period is due)
- Very irregular periods, such as having more than 35 days in between periods
- Severe acne or excess facial hair
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if your period symptoms are interfering with your everyday life or feel untreatable by over the counter pain relievers.