There are many women who suffer from painful periods. During which times, they experience discomfort referred to, technically, as menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea, an ancient Greek expression, which literally means ‘difficult monthly flow.
Around 80 per cent of women experience painful period at some stage in their lifetime. Some suffer it from your early teens right up to the menopause.
Study shows that most women experience some discomfort during menstruation, especially on the first day. However, in five per cent to 10 per cent of women the pain is severe enough to disrupt their life. If your mother suffered period pains, you are more likely to suffer too. In 40 per cent of women, period pain is accompanied by premenstrual symptoms, such as bloating, tender breasts, swollen stomach, and lack of concentration, mood swings, clumsiness and tiredness.
According to experts, menstrual cramps can be really uncomfortable and painful, but they do happen for a reason. During a woman’s period, her uterus contracts, meaning it squeezes or cramps up. This makes the linings come off the walls of the uterus and leave the body. When your uterus cramps up, it’s helping the period blood flow out of your private part.
Cramps are usually worse during the first few days of your period, when your flow is the heaviest. Your periods may get more or less painful throughout your life. For many people, cramps become less painful as they know lots of ways to treat them.
A medical practitioner, Dr. Sunday Olalekan, said menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) are throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen, adding: “For some women, the discomfort is merely annoying. For others, menstrual cramps can be severe enough to interfere with everyday activities for a few days every month. During your menstrual period, your uterus contracts to help expel its lining. Hormone-like substances (prostaglandins) involved in pain and inflammation rigger the uterine muscle contractions.”
Menstrual cramps may be caused by identifiable problems, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids. Treating any underlying cause is key to reducing the pain. Menstrual cramps that aren’t caused by an underlying condition tend to lessen with age and often improve once a woman has given birth.”
Explaining further, an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology, Jessica Shepherd, said: “When endometrial cells are broken down during your cycle, the prostaglandins are released and they are indirectly related to estrogen. On the flip side, prostaglandins (and cramps) are decreased when you are on hormonal birth control because you’re not building up that endometrial tissue.”
Maureen Whelihan, an obstetrics and gynecology at the Centre for Sexual Health and Education said cramps are mildly uncomfortable in some people but soul-crushing in others because of “a few factors: like heavier bleeding in some women, larger blood clots being pushed through the cervix, health conditions like adenomyosis (which causes endometrial tissue to grow into the uterine wall), and differences in pain tolerance.”
She said there are two different types of period pain: Primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea.
Primary dysmenorrhoea: This commonly occurs in teenage girls and young women, towards the beginning of menstrual life. The cramping pains are caused by the womb contracting to shed its lining.
There may also be pain caused by the decreased supply of blood to the womb. The pain is mainly in the lower part of the abdomen but can go into the back and down the front of the thighs. Some women feel nauseated at the same time. It is a perfectly natural condition and for many women is simply a mild monthly discomfort. Primary dysmenorrhoea can be eased with the contraceptive pill as well as some relaxation techniques.
Secondary dysmenorrhoea: This may not start until your mid-20s or later. It is unlikely to cease after childbirth. The pain is not restricted to “time of the month” bleeding and can occur throughout the cycle. Periods may become heavier and more prolonged, and intercourse may be painful.
Secondary dysmenorrhoea can be a sign of other conditions, including pelvic infections, which may need urgent attention. If you start to experience period pain as an adult you should not hesitate to consult a General Practitioner (GP).
Culled from The Sun Nigeria