TIPS FOR MANAGING MENSTRUAL PAIN

Advices on how to reduce menstrual cramps and pain include applying heat or taking a pain reliever

TIPS FOR MANAGING MENSTRUAL PAIN

Almost 9 out of 10 girls and women have pain around the time of their period.1,2The good news is that there are plenty of ways help ease the pain.

What is menstrual pain?

Pain and cramping around the time of the menstrual period is perfectly normal. It usually feels like a cramping pain in the lower part of the stomach, and there may occasionally be some pain in the lower back and at the top of your legs.3

The pain typically starts around the same time as menstrual bleeding or just before. It can last for around a day, although some people may suffer for a couple of days.3 For most girls and women, the pain is generally mild, but 1 in 10 can suffer from severe pain that stops them from going to school or work.3

Easing pain without medicines

Here are a few tips to help ease the pain.

Heat

Applying a little bit of heat to the stomach can actually help ease menstrual pain.3, 4 Try a heat patch or resting a hot water bottle on the stomach might help.

There’s some evidence to suggest that exercise may reduce menstrual pain.5

Exercise

There’s some evidence to suggest that exercise may reduce menstrual pain.5

Massage

Some people use massage to ease their body aches and pains. Try massaging the painful area of the stomach with gentle, circular motions.6

Easing pain with medicines

For extra relief, take over-the-counter pain relievers. These have been proven to relieve menstrual pain and7 research shows that medicines containing paracetamol plus caffeine can be particularly useful.8

When to see a doctor

If you have any concerns about menstrual pain, ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice. In particular, you should see a doctor if any of the following apply:3,9

  • severe pain
  • abdominal pain even when it’s not your menstrual period
  • bleeding in between your menstrual periods or bleeding that is heavier or longer than usual
  • an abnormal discharge from the vagina, especially if it is thick or smells bad6
  • a fever.6

References

  1. Jamieson DJ, Steege JF. The prevalence of dysmenorrhea, dyspareunia, pelvic pain, and irritable bowel syndrome in primary care practices. Obstet Gynecol. 1996; 87(1): 55–58.
  2. Parker MA, et al. The menstrual disorder of teenagers (MDOT) study: determining the typical menstrual patterns and menstrual disturbance in a large population-based study of Australian teenagers. BJOG. 2010: 11: 186-192.
  3. Patient UK. Period pain (dysmenorrhoea). Available at http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Period-Pain-(Dysmenorrhoea).htm. Accessed July 2010.
  4. UK Clinical Knowledge Summaries. Dysmenorrhoea. Available at: http://www.cks.nhs.uk/dysmenorrhoea. Accessed July 2010.
  5. Brown J, Brown S. Exercise for dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD004142. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004142.pub2.
  6. Proctor M, et al. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for primary dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2002, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD002123. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002123.
  7. UK NHS Choices. Periods – painful. Available at http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Periods-painful/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed July 2010.
  8. Milsom I, et al.  Comparison of the efficacy and safety of nonprescription doses of naproxen and naproxen sodium with ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and placebo in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a pooled analysis of five studies. Clin Ther. 2002; 24:1384–1400.
  9. Ali Z, et al. Efficacy of a paracetamol and caffeine combination in the treatment of the key symptoms of primary dysmenorrhoea. Curr Med Res Opin. 2007; 23: 841–851.
  10. Medline. Menstrual periods – heavy, prolonged or irregular. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003263.htm. Accessed July 2010.