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How much Period Pain is "Normal"?

A women clutching on her stomach due to period pain

Someone once said “Menstrual cramps are just free samples of what giving birth feels like.”
And, this thought has been living in my head rent-free ever since…

Experiencing pain during periods is quite normal, but sometimes the pain feels so much that you might wonder, is it normal or should I visit a doctor?

If you feel the same, I might have answers for you.
But before starting with anything, let’s understand what causes pain. 

In the uterus, a hormone called prostaglandin is released. It is responsible for the contraction of the blood vessels. When it is produced more, the contractions increase, and blood vessels compress vigorously, reducing the oxygen supply. The lack of oxygen leads to the release of several chemicals that further increase the cramps and pain.

Some other reasons include smoking, dehydration, obesity, and sometimes, it can be genetic too.

In medical terms, this pain is referred to as dysmenorrhea. This can further be classified into two types: Primary dysmenorrhea and Secondary dysmenorrhea.

What we call ‘normal pain’ is primary dysmenorrhea.

If your symptoms look like these, then it’s primary dysmenorrhea:

  • You feel pain in your lower abdomen, lower back, and sometimes, in your thighs. 
  • You might suffer from nausea, vomiting, and headache.
  • Painkillers offer relief from pain.
  • The effects last for three days and then things start getting better.

Since there is no underlying disease behind the pain, some self-help measures can relieve your pain:

Exercise
We know talking about exercise during period pain is infuriating. But it can do wonders.
Stretching exercises, yoga, and floor exercises can be helpful. Child's pose, knee to chest pose, and Shavasana are the most impactful poses.

 A girl doing yoga

Food with anti-inflammatory properties
Consume magnesium-rich food like green leafy vegetables, bananas, and avocados. For beverages, opt for ginger tea, cinnamon tea, or Herbal PCOS Tea.

Anti-inflammatory food: Cabbage, banana, broccoli and ginger tea

Massage
Massaging your lower abdomen and back with essential oils also releases your muscles and soothes your body.

Girl getting massage and essential oils


Heat Therapy
Hot showers and heat bags can help in relaxing your muscles, increasing the blood flow and easing out the pain. Place the heat bag on your lower abdomen or lower back. Do not overheat it; otherwise, it might cause decolorization of the skin.

Women with heat bag


Ayurvedic and Herbal Supplements
While painkillers come with side effects, opting for ayurvedic and herbal supplements can be a safer choice. Try For PMS & Cramps by The Basics, which is designed particularly to relieve PMS symptoms. It is composed of 12 natural ingredients making it a healthier replacement.

For PMS & Cramps Product image

However, if your signs look like these:

  • Painkillers have lost their touch. You can’t go through the day without having 2 or more painkillers. They have no relieving effects.
  • You cannot carry on your daily activities with ease. You have to skip going to school, college, or office.
  • The pain either starts way before the period or continues days post menstruation.
  • You have unusually heavy bleeding that lasts for more than a week, or you counter irregular cycles.
  • You experience pelvic pain while urinating or having sex.
  • You have pain on one side more than the other.
  • You have spotting between two cycles.
  • There is a pelvic mass or bloating in the abdomen. (This indicates there is some internal condition or growth in the pelvic region.)

Then, the pain might not be “normal”. It is possibly secondary dysmenorrhea where the reason for the pain is an underlying disease. It could be one of the following:

Endometriosis
Adenomyosis
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Uterine fibroid

If your symptoms resemble secondary dysmenorrhea, it is time to visit a doctor before things get out of control.