Have you ever wondered if the pain you experience with your period is normal? Do your mum, sisters and your friends tell you that they feel period pain too, so it must be normal?
It is common to suffer a bit of menstrual cramping but it is not normal to have your life disrupted by pain. Too much pain can be a sign of a more serious problem.
Normal period pain
Menstrual cramps are felt in the pelvis and in the lower back and it often feels heavy and uncomfortable. It is usual for cramping to occur just before your period, or on day 1 or 2 of your bleed. Some women will feel uncomfortable for 2 to 3 days.
Many women experience a bit of constipation just before their period, so the discomfort that comes with a period can feel worse due to a congested bowel. The constipation should ease when your period starts.
Normal period pain will cause you discomfort but it should not affect your daily life. Some women find that walking and other exercise can improve the pain.
Bad period pain
If the cramping with your period pain requires you to take pain killers and stay at home from school or work, then this is not normal.
Natural treatment for period pain
You might be surprised to know that naturopaths recommend an anti-inflammatory diet to effectively reduce the pain during menstruation. This is a great alternative to the contraceptive pill for managing period pain.
Many girls and women can greatly reduce the pain they experience by eliminating dairy and/or wheat from their diet. These foods can cause inflammation in some people.
Other women have food intolerances that can be investigated and treated, leading to an easier period.
Herbal medicine and nutritional supplements are also tools for supporting a healthy menstrual cycle and reducing pain during a period. Your pain should greatly improve within 3 months of consulting with a naturopath, changing to an anti-inflammatory diet, exercising regularly and managing your stress levels.
If the menstrual pain doesn't feel like a cramp, and you experience it as more of a stabbing or a burning pain, then you may have an underlying condition and you should consult with a doctor who specialises in women's health. If your pain doesn't improve after 3 months of diet changes, or it is completely debilitating, then it also requires further investigation.
This is a very common condition which can cause debilitating pain with a period.
Diagnosis of endometriosis is difficult and must be done by a doctor. It is not known what causes endometriosis however it is thought to be a condition of inflammation, immune system dysfunction and possibly bacterial proliferation.
Endometriosis is made worse by the increases in oestrogen during the menstrual cycle.
Endometriosis pain is caused by endometrium-like tissue (similar to that of your uterine lining) found in other parts of your body such as ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel and bladder. These adhesions cause widespread pain and other symptoms during a period, and often at other times as well.
A naturopath can recommend natural treatments, including diet changes, herbal medicine and nutritional supplements to improve the pain experienced by women with endometriosis.
Pain between periods
Sometimes women feel a sharp twinge in their ovaries around the half way mark between their periods. This is normal and it's a sign that you have just ovulated. It's also normal to not notice this twinge.
The ovulation pain lasts only a short time and shouldn't require a pain killer or affect your activities during the day. Always see a women's health doctor if you experience any other type of pelvic or ovary pain between your periods.
Women's Wellness Package
A regular period without too much pain is a good sign that you are healthy. If you need help to understand your period or make changes to improve your health, then a naturopath is a good place to start.
I've put together a 14 week Women's Wellness Program because it takes time to change your health and improve your menstrual cycle.
The women who come to see me have experienced improvements in range of menstrual problems such as period pain, PMS, peri-menopause, menopause and polycystic ovary syndrome.
I also treat women for acne, digestive conditions, weight gain and improving energy levels. If you are interested in working with me, please contact me here.
I am a naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and certified wellness coach.
I welcome clients to my clinic in Gladesville, Sydney.
This blog contains information from my Bachelor of Health Science degree, continuing research, and from experience gained from working with women in my clinic.
The blog is not intended as individual health advice and you should seek assistance for medical conditions.