Period Pain: More Than Just Cramps
What types of pain can I have during my menstrual cycle?
Cramping is only one type of pain women can experience during their periods. It all starts with pain producing chemicals called prostaglandins that can affect many areas of your body (to learn more about how prostaglandins cause pain check out this article). Menstrual pain ranges from mild to severe and in many cases can interfere with work, school, and social activities. So to help you better understand your menstrual pain, here are some of the types you may come across:
- Menstrual cramps are pain in the lower abdominal midline that typically begins with menstrual bleeding and gradually lessens over the next 12-72 hours. This pain can range from dull to throbbing and can radiate to other parts of the body, like your lower back.1
Menstrual Syndrome or PMS Headaches
- The PMS headache often occurs before your period and can be accompanied by a variety of symptoms that distinguish it from the typical headache. These symptoms include headache pain along with fatigue, acne, joint pain, decreased urination, constipation and lack of coordination.2 You may also experience an increase in appetite and a craving for chocolate or salt.
- If you have back pain during your period, know this: you are not alone! In fact, it has been reported that back pain occurs in 60% of women who experience menstrual cramping. This occurs when pain from cramping radiates to other parts of the body3. When that happens your menstrual pain can spread as far as your back, legs, and hips.1
*Among OTC single ingredient pain relievers
- Hall JE. Menstrual Disorders and Pelvic Pain. In: Kasper D, Fauci A, Hauser S, Longo D, Jameson J, Loscalzo J. eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2015.http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=1130&Sectionid=7.... Accessed January 29, 2017.
- “Menstrual Migraine.” http://www.headaches.org/2007/10/25/menstrual-migraine/. Accessed Jaunary 30, 2017.
- Dawood, M. Yusoff. "Primary Dysmenorrhea-Pathophysiology and Management." Journal of the Islamic Medical Association of North America13.4 (1981).
- Chan, W. Y., Dawood, M. Y. and Fuchs, F.. "Relief of dysmenorrhea with the prostaglandin synthetase inhibitor ibuprofen: effect on prostaglandin levels in menstrual fluid." American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 135.1 (1979): 102-108.
- Data on File.