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Why Are My Menstrual Cramps So Painful, and What Can I Do About It?

 Do you ever wonder why you get painful menstrual cramps and your best friend doesn’t? Here’s what causes menstrual cramps and what you can do about them. 

If you’re someone who gets menstrual cramps, starting your period is a really big deal. You may even have to plan your schedule around your cycle so you don’t have to miss important events due to period pain

But as torturous as period cramps are for you, you may have noticed that not every woman experiences them the same way. In fact, some women get through their menstrual period with little to no discomfort at all. That hardly seems fair, right? So what’s going on in your body that makes your painful cramping worse than someone else’s?  

To satisfy your curiosity about why some women have painful periods and others don’t, we’ve prepared this helpful guide. Learn more about menstrual cramps, what causes them, and what you can do to minimize your monthly pelvic cramps through lifestyle changes (such as maintaining a healthy weight and taking Hertime daily). 

What Are Menstrual Cramps?

Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for menstrual cramps and monthly pelvic pain. There are two different types of dysmenorrhea: primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea. Here is what you should know about each type. 

Primary dysmenorrhea is usually a life-long condition. People with primary dysmenorrhea get it when they first start their period in adolescence and still have it as they age. Each month, people with primary dysmenorrhea experience painful menstrual cramps due to abnormal contractions of the uterus. These abnormal contractions are caused by a chemical imbalance. The chemical prostaglandin is responsible for uterine contractions. It can become imbalanced in people with primary dysmenorrhea and lead to painful cramping.  

Secondary dysmenorrhea usually develops later in life as a result of some sort of medical condition. Endometriosis, uterine fibroids, an ovarian cyst, and pelvic inflammatory disease are all possible causes of secondary dysmenorrhea. Like primary dysmenorrhea, secondary dysmenorrhea causes menstrual cramping and pain.  

What Do Cramps Feel Like?

Menstrual cramps are unique sensations to experience. For someone who has never had them before, it can be hard to describe the type of pain normal cramps cause. Many women define menstrual cramps as a throbbing pain or dull ache that is felt throughout the lower abdomen. Some women even experience painful cramps that can be felt in the back and legs as well.  

You may experience cramps a little differently. Some women think common menstrual cramps feel a lot like the lower belly cramps that occur after eating something that doesn’t agree with your digestive system. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to experience menstrual cramps. The important thing is to learn how to find relief from your painful menstrual periods so you can enjoy a high quality of life. 

What Are the Symptoms of Menstrual Cramps?

Are you still wondering if you’re experiencing menstrual cramps or something else? It’s important to be able to recognize what’s causing pain in your body so you can seek treatment as needed. Here are some common symptoms associated with period cramps.

  • Mild to severe pain and cramping in the lower abdomen that’s associated with your period
  • Nausea
  • Pain that radiates to the lower back or down the backs of the legs
  • Increased irritability
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Fainting spells (in cases of severe dysmenorrhea)

The easiest way to tell if you’re experiencing period cramps or something else is timing. Menstrual cramps don’t happen during all of the menstrual cycle phases. Instead, menstrual pain often begins right before or during the start of your menstrual period or as part of premenstrual syndrome. The pain may continue for a few days at the start of your period and can feel either dull or sharp. Period pain can be mild to severe. For some women, severe menstrual cramps interfere with normal activities and can significantly reduce their quality of life. 

What Causes Painful Menstrual Cramps?

The female body makes prostaglandins, which are chemicals that can stimulate mild to severe cramps. Prostaglandins are made in the uterus and stimulate uterine contractions. In some women, prostaglandin levels are higher than normal, which can cause more intense and painful uterine contractions than usual.

But high levels of prostaglandins are just one possible answer for period pain and other premenstrual symptoms. Other possible causes for secondary menstrual cramps include:

  • Endometriosis
  • Infections in the reproductive organs
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Ectopic pregnancy or other types of abnormal pregnancy
  • A narrow cervix
  • Fibroids
  • IUDs (which are a popular form of birth control)

Your likelihood of experiencing menstrual pain increases if you experience a heavy menstrual flow, are overweight, and had your first period younger than age 11. Drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes also increases the risk of painful periods

Can You Prevent Menstrual Cramps?

Preventing menstrual cramps is something every woman wishes she knew how to do. If there was a tried-and-true way to prevent painful periods that was guaranteed to work for everyone, our world would be a much happier place. But even though there is no foolproof prevention method for cramps (that we know of), there are certainly ways to minimize your chance of experiencing severe period pain

Here are a few potential menstrual pain prevention methods you may want to try:

  • Quitting smoking (if you currently smoke)
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
  • Taking hormone-balancing supplements such as Hertime

You have nothing to lose and a lot to potentially gain by trying these prevention methods. In addition to improving your hormonal health and reducing your risk of severe menstrual pain, the above prevention methods will also help you stay healthier overall. 

How Can I Treat My Menstrual Cramps?

If you still develop menstrual cramps despite your best efforts to prevent them, there are some treatment options available. Try one or more of the following self care solutions

Take Pain Medication

Some women who struggle with painful periods experience little relief from over-the-counter pain medicine. Others may find that only one type of pain reliever works for them. It’s important to try different over-the-counter pain medicines to see if there is a specific type that works best for your pain relief needs. 

Use Heat to Dull Your Pain

Heat can be very soothing when you’re experiencing menstrual cramps. Some ladies find that dry heat (such as a heating pad or hot water bottle) works best. Others prefer the pain-relieving properties of wet heat (such as a hot shower or bath). You can experiment with both options until you discover which one works best for your cramps. You may even find that alternating between dry and wet heat treatment works better than choosing just one or the other. 

Try Taking Dietary Supplements

Research shows that some dietary supplements have good results in reducing period pain. Dietary supplements containing the following nutrients and herbs are especially helpful for balancing hormones and reducing unpleasant menstrual symptoms:

  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B6
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Magnesium
  • Milk thistle extract
  • White peony extract
  • Siberian ginseng extract
  • Dong quai extract

Hertime contains most of these ingredients, including a few additional natural ingredients that can help you enjoy a pain-free period. Plus, it tastes incredible, so you’ll actually look forward to taking it on the regular. 

Reduce Your Stress Levels

Stress can wreak havoc on your body and disrupt your delicate hormone balance. Too much stress (especially the psychological kind) can increase your risk of experiencing severe menstrual cramps. If you’re not sure how to reduce your stress, try talking to a therapist or psychiatrist. These visits can be very therapeutic and can teach you valuable coping skills to help you deal with stressors in your life. 

Try Acupuncture

Acupuncture may seem strange if you’ve never tried it before, but studies show that it is effective in relieving pain. Some research even suggests that acupuncture can help reduce the pain associated with menstrual cramps. Don’t worry, those needles don’t hurt as much as you might think. Some people describe the feeling of acupuncture as a slight warming sensation, while others think it feels more like a mild “buzzing” or electric sensation. 

If you get queasy at the sight of needles, you may be better off trying acupressure. The idea behind it is similar to acupuncture, but there are no needles involved. Instead, the practitioner uses a finger or thumb to apply deep pressure to specific acupressure points. This treatment has also been shown to be an effective pain-reduction tool.

Use a TENS Device

The Mayo Clinic suggests using a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (or TENS) device as an alternative treatment for menstrual cramps. Though more research needs to be done to prove that a TENS device can provide you with monthly pain relief, studies show that the treatment is more effective at relieving menstrual cramps than a placebo. 

A TENS unit consists of a handheld controller and adhesive patches that connect to the skin. These patches contain electrodes that stimulate nerves in treated areas by delivering adjustable levels of electric current to targeted parts of the body. It’s thought that TENS units work by releasing endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain killers. TENS units may also increase your body’s pain signal threshold. For best results, make sure you never turn up the electrical current in your TENS unit too high. Doing so could potentially lead to nerve damage. 

If the above self-care methods don’t adequately reduce your period pain, consider asking your doctor about hormonal birth control pills. They contain hormones that prevent you from ovulating and may reduce the severity of your menstrual pain

How Can I Tell if My Menstrual Pain Is Normal?

By now you know that women experience period pain in different ways. So how can you tell if your menstrual pain is normal or an indication of a serious problem? Here are a few signs that you might want to see a healthcare provider for your menstrual symptoms

  • Your menstrual cycle symptoms keep getting progressively worse
  • You always had minimally painful periods until you suddenly started having severe menstrual pain after the age of 25
  • Your menstrual bleeding and cramps disrupt your life every month
  • Your pain is accompanied by excessive bleeding that requires you to use more than one tampon or pad per hour
  • Your monthly pain suddenly feels different than usual
  • You think you might be pregnant when you start experiencing pain and bleeding
  • You have body aches, chills, a fever, or other signs of infection
  • You think your current form of birth control is leading to severe monthly symptoms

It is important to seek care from a qualified healthcare provider in any of the above situations. Your healthcare provider can give you care advice and treatment suggestions to address the underlying cause of your discomfort. 

What Questions Will a Doctor Ask Me About My Period Pain?

Before your doctor can determine the underlying cause of your period pain, he or she will need some information from you. Be prepared to answer the following questions when you arrive to your appointment:

  • Is sexual intercourse painful for you?
  • How far apart are your periods? Are they regular or irregular?
  • Do your monthly symptoms interfere with your daily life or cause you to miss school or work? 
  • Where do you feel your period cramps the most?
  • How heavy is your menstrual bleeding? Do you ever bleed between periods?
  • Have you tried any treatments so far, and have any of them helped?
  • How old were you when you first began menstruating?
  • Do you have a family history of menstrual problems?
  • Do you have additional symptoms that accompany your period pain, such as vomiting, back pain, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, or dizziness?

You may also have a few questions you want to ask your doctor, such as whether or not you need blood tests, scans, or any other diagnostic procedures. You may also want to ask your doctor what home remedies or treatments you should try to further prevent your period pain.  

What Is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a common cause of secondary dysmenorrhea. It is a disorder in which endometrial tissue grows outside of your uterus. In people with endometriosis, endometrial tissue frequently grows around the fallopian tubes and ovaries. In rare cases, this tissue spreads to other areas of the abdomen as well. Endometriosis is often painful because the endometrial tissue in the abdominal cavity thickens and swells during certain periods of the menstrual cycle, just as it would do if it were located where it should be-in your uterus. 

Unlike true endometrial tissue inside the uterus, the tissue growing outside of the uterus has no way to exit the body. It becomes trapped in the abdominal cavity and can lead to internal scarring and cyst development. Women with endometriosis may also experience infertility. If you think you have endometriosis, it’s essential to talk to a healthcare provider. There are treatments available to ease your symptoms

Why Does the Severity of Cramps Vary From Person to Person?

It’s not your fault if you experience more severe period cramps than the other women in your family. It’s also not their fault if they can’t relate to your period pain (so try not to get too irritated with them). 

It’s natural for the severity of menstrual cramps to differ from person to person; not everyone will experience similar cramps. People’s bodies are different and they respond to things in different ways. Some women produce more prostaglandins than others. Some women may also experience increased period pain due to lifestyle choices. It’s important not to dwell on why some of us ladies drew the short stick when it comes to menstrual cramps. Instead, we can focus on empowering ourselves to minimize our monthly discomfort in any way we can. 

How Can Hertime Help Me?

Cramps are no fun, but Hertime may be the secret weapon you’ve been hoping to find. This potent hormone-supporting formula can help you avoid hormone imbalances that might lead to increased period pain. For best results, mix a packet in water every day and take it religiously. This product should be taken throughout every phase of your cycle to give your body the nutrients it needs to keep hormones balanced and support normal body functions. 

Want more advice and information about how you can have pain-free periods? Head over to Mixhers resources and browse through some of our cutting-edge content. Our goal is to help educate and empower you to have healthier and happier periods going forward.