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June 2020

3 Reasons for Your Painful Periods

They come like clockwork right before your period. As your bleeding starts, they worsen. But within a few days, they subside.

If this describes your cramps, you can probably blame them on prostaglandins. These chemicals are produced in your uterine lining and cause muscle contractions and spasms. They can hurt badly enough that you miss school, work, or other activities. Still, they aren’t linked to other health issues.

However, if you have pain that starts earlier, worsens, or lingers, take note. You may have a medical condition.

1. Endometriosis

Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of your uterus grows outside the organ. Sometimes it’s on or under your ovaries. In other cases, it’s as far away as your bowels and bladder.

In addition to cramps, symptoms may include infertility, pain during or after sex, and heavy periods. Pain relievers, hormone therapy, or surgery can relieve symptoms, control the tissue’s growth, or remove it.

2. Adenomyosis

Adenomyosis also involves shifted tissue from the uterine lining. Here, it grows within the wall of the womb itself. As a result, you might also bleed heavily or have trouble getting pregnant.

Hormone therapies and other medicines can reduce bleeding and pain. In some cases, you might have a procedure to remove the uterus.

3. Fibroids

Fibroids can cause heavy menstrual bleeding, low back pain, or fullness in your abdomen. Your stomach area might even grow visibly larger, as if you’re pregnant. These tumors are made of muscle cells and other tissues, and they’re almost never cancerous. But the pain they cause can be hard to live with.

Women who are in their 30s or 40s, African-American, or have a family history face a greater risk of fibroids. Medicines or surgery can treat them.

Pain relievers, heat, exercise, or relaxation techniques can ease many painful periods. But if these methods don’t work, call your healthcare provider. Also book a visit if your cramps suddenly get worse, come with a fever, or linger even when your period’s over. Your provider may perform an exam or a test like ultrasound or MRI to find the culprit.

Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2020
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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