Rebecca Johnson (35) has, over the past years, experienced menstrual cramps. She said the pain was a mild discomfort at the earlier years when she starting her cycle, explaining: “In recent years, my period pain has become as severe as a slipped disc. I speak from experience, having had two slipped discs in my life.
“Every month, I spent hours lying on the floor, unable to move, and literally crying out in agony. My hip and back muscles went into spasm, so that my body was twisted. There are months I do not go to work because of the unbearable pain that accompanies my cycle. I take pain medication whenever it starts, to control the pain.
“My heart always skips whenever the time sets in. Nothing goes into my stomach because I find it difficult to eat and easily get irritated and usually not in the mood to move.
“In most cases, I lie down with a heating pad on my tummy. During this period, I go for warm bath. I had to deal with monthly bouts of depression, suffered through migraines and even vomiting whenever I had my period.”
According to experts, conditions such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids can cause menstrual cramps. Treating the cause is key to reducing the pain. Menstrual cramps that aren’t caused by another condition tend to lessen with age and often improve after giving birth.
He said: “During your menstrual period, your uterus contracts to help expel its lining. Hormone-like substances (prostaglandins) involved in pain and inflammation trigger the uterine muscle contractions. Higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with more-severe menstrual cramps.
“Severe contractions may constrict the blood vessels feeding the uterus. The resulting pain can be compared to the chest pain that occurs when blocked blood vessels starve portions of the heart of food and oxygen.”
Menstrual cramps may also be caused by the following:
Endometriosis: In this painful condition, the tissue that lines your uterus becomes implanted outside your uterus, most commonly on your fallopian tubes, ovaries or the tissue lining your pelvis.
Uterine fibroids: These noncancerous growths in the wall of the uterus may be the cause of pain.
Adenomyosis: In this condition, the tissue that lines your uterus begins to grow into the muscular walls of the uterus.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): This infection of the female reproductive organs is usually caused by sexually transmitted bacteria.
Cervical stenosis: In some women, the opening of the cervix may be so small that it impedes menstrual flow, causing a painful increase of pressure within the uterus.
Symptoms of menstrual cramps include: throbbing or cramping pain in your lower abdomen that can be intense and pain that starts 1 to 3 days before your period, peaks 24 hours after the onset of your period and subsides in 2 to 3 days.
Also, dull and continuous ache and pain that radiates to your lower back and thighs. Some women also have: Nausea. loose stools, headache and dizziness