Period Pain

period pain
Certain chemicals within the body - specifically certain prostaglandins - make the womb contract to dislodge its lining and start the period. This contraction is what causes the majority of discomfort and pain for women on their period.

A hot water bottle or a self-heating pad on your tummy might help to make it more comfortable and alleviate some of the pain. Speak to your Pharmacist to find the right painkillers for you.


What is Period Pain?

Period pain is usually felt as painful cramps in the lower tummy, which can sometimes spread to the back and thighs. Sometimes the pain can be dull and constant, while at other times can be intense spasms. Pain can vary with each period; sometimes you may have little or no discomfort, while other periods may be very painful.

As well as period pain, other symptoms you may experience during your period include:

  • Headaches
  • Feeling sick
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Diarrhoea
The good news is that many women find that period pain improves as they get older and some also notice an improvement after they have had children.

Period pain is caused by chemicals called prostaglandins that are released by your body. Prostaglandins cause your womb to contract in order to shed the lining of your womb as part of your monthly cycle. These contractions can cause pain and cramps. Some women produce higher levels of prostaglandins compared to others, which causes more vigorous contractions, with more severe pain and cramps.


Managing Period Pain

Period pain can be managed at home using painkillers. There are a number of painkillers available from your local pharmacy.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can help relieve pain. These painkillers also slow the release of prostaglandins by your body and can make your cramps less severe.

Paracetamol is another painkiller option. However, studies have shown that paracetamol doesn’t manage period pain as effectively as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

Speak to your local Alphega Pharmacy for advice on what would be most suitable for your symptoms.


Other Period Pain Remedies

If you have particularly bad period pain and heavy periods, your GP may prescribe a contraceptive pill for you. This treatment has been shown to reduce the amount of prostaglandins released by the body, resulting in lighter periods with less pain and cramps.

There are other practical things you can do to help relieve period pain, such as:

  • Having a warm bath or applying a hot water bottle to the tummy or back
  • Gently massaging the tummy and/or back
  • Keeping active and doing gentle exercise such as walking, cycling or swimming
  • Trying to relax through yoga or pilates


Period pain infographic

Occasionally, period pain can be caused by underlying medical conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids or pelvic inflammatory disease. This is known as secondary dysmenorrhoea. If this is suspected, speak to your GP, especially if pain is severe or treatments have been tried with no success.


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