New Girl’s Jess Day likens it to a fat man sitting on her uterus, while English actress Carrie Hope Fletcher says “it’s like someone has reached into your gut and is just twisting everything”.
Painful periods are extremely common, yet the symptoms differ from one woman to the next. For some it’s a sensation of heaviness in the pelvic region, while other women experience a constant dull ache or sharp twinges. As if that’s not enough to deal with, nausea, headaches, bloating, diarrhoea and back pain also have a tendency to gate crash the party. Fun!
Although menstrual pain is usually short-lived and manageable, it can be debilitating. Severe period pain that lasts more than a couple of days can signal an underlying medical condition like endometriosis, so make sure you speak to your doctor if this is the case for you.
Generally, though, you don’t need to be concerned – just prepared. Considering the average menstruating woman in Australia will have up to 500 periods in her lifetime (yes, really), it’s worth having some pain-relieving tactics in your armoury that work for you. Here are five that could do the trick.
1. Pain relief medication.
Pain relief medication for pain – ground-breaking, I know. However, when it comes to period pain and cramping, some drugs are more effective than others.
Paracetamol can be helpful for general period-related soreness, but it won’t reduce cramping. If you’re suffering cramps, medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen and mefenamic acid are more effective – especially when they’re taken at the onset of your pain.
Keep in mind these drugs can cause stomach irritation, and also will only provide short term solutions to your pain. For longer term benefits it’s important to look into your diet, exercise and natural remedies that can be taken for longer periods of time.
It’s probably the last thing you feel like doing, but it could help you feel better. While research seems divided on how effective it actually is, gentle, low impact exercise – like swimming or walking – is commonly recommended as a potential pain relief method.
If you decide to get physical, avoid workouts that involve your lower abdominal muscles (i.e. your ‘core’) because that could worsen any pain you’re experiencing down there.