Ways to Relieve Period Cramps | Gleneagles Hospitals
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Ways to Relieve Period Cramps

01 March 2024 · 3 mins read

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Read our guide on the causes of period cramps and tips to ease them.

Menstruation is regular vaginal bleeding that occurs every month as part of a woman's menstrual cycle. Period cramps are extremely common, but they occasionally affect a woman's day-to-day life. They can be painful and, for some, even debilitating. The medical term used to describe a painful period is “dysmenorrhea”.

A significant percentage of women experience cramps in the lower abdomen during their periods. The pain can be throbbing, sharp or spasmodic and sometimes mild but persistent.

Pain levels vary, and some women may have better tolerance towards it compared to others. Additionally, the intensity of the cramps could vary with each period as oestrogen and progesterone hormone levels fluctuate.

Cramping pain usually occurs in your lower abdomen and may spread to your back and legs. Other symptoms may include lower back discomfort, nausea, diarrhoea, and headache.

Types of Dysmenorrhoea (Painful Period)

Primary and secondary dysmenorrhea are the two forms of painful periods.

Primary dysmenorrhea: Menstrual pain that arises without any specific underlying health issues. The discomfort typically starts with the onset of your menstrual period, possibly starting a bit before.

Secondary dysmenorrhea: Menstrual pain triggered by an underlying health condition. Some women may encounter more intense menstrual pain after years of experiencing what is considered "normal" period discomfort.

Causes of secondary dysmenorrhea:

  • Endometriosis: Tissue resembling the womb’s lining grows in other areas, such as in the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
  • Uterine fibroids: Non-cancerous growths that develop in or around the uterus can cause painful and heavy periods.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): Bacterial infection in the womb, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
  • Adenomyosis: Period cramps are especially painful as the endometrial tissue in the uterus lining grows into the muscle wall of the uterus.

Period Cramps Relief

Consider the following to find some relief from milder period cramps.

  • Various over-the-counter pain relief medicines can be taken for managing period cramps. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most effective for period cramps because they target prostaglandins. This, in return, makes menstrual cramps less severe. NSAIDs such as naproxen and mefenamic acid are most effective when taken at the onset of your period or at the first signs of pain. Typically, these medications are taken for a short duration, usually 1 or 2 days, to provide relief from menstrual discomfort.
  • For women not desiring pregnancy, contraceptive pills and other hormonal birth control methods can also serve as treatments for dysmenorrhea.
  • Ensuring an adequate amount of sleep before and during your menstrual period is crucial. Sufficient rest can help you manage discomfort and improve your ability to cope with the pain.
  • Yoga is a beneficial exercise that can ease menstrual cramps, improve flexibility, and strengthen abdominal muscles. Even mild physical activity, such as walking, can boost overall health and enhance mood.
  • A heated pad applied to your lower abdomen might help you feel better by relaxing the muscles causing your cramps.
  • Reducing stress levels is essential for obtaining relief from period cramps. You can do yoga, deep breathing techniques, meditation, or anything else that helps you to reduce stress.

The treatment for secondary dysmenorrhea varies depending on the underlying cause. Your doctor will provide guidance on the most suitable course of treatment tailored to your symptoms and specific condition.

Make an Appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals

If you find yourself dealing with severe period pain that hinders your daily activities or causes concern, it is advisable to consult with your doctor. Get in touch with us to find out more about our Obstetrics & Gynaecology Services at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital.


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