When should I be worried and go to my doctor about period
Most people who get their period have experienced period pain, otherwise known as cramps, proper term dysmenorrhea, occasionally referred to as “my uterus is on fire and it’s not fair, why me, oh please make it stop!” – but how do you know when enough is enough? When should you start to consider that the pain you’re experiencing might not be “normal”?
It’s advised that if you have severe or unusual cramps during your time of the month, or period pain that lasts for more than 2 or 3 days, you should tell your doctor. Let’s break that down into more detail.
What constitutes severe period pain?
Pain is really subjective, we each have our own threshold and experience of what is normal. Medical News Today details that dysmenorrhea can range from dull to extreme, with some women experiencing different accompanying symptoms than others too - nausea, dizziness, headaches to name a few nasty ones.
That’s why it’s important to think about your pain level on your own personal experience and what can be treated or controlled with regular measures. Take that ‘dull and annoying’ type, usually you can get on with whatever you’re doing and push the aches and pains to the back of your mind. Then, sometimes the pain can be more acute, or have a deeper burning feeling and can’t be ignored, you probably need a sofa (stat!) and ibuprofen to ease the cramping. But if your period pain is completely sidelining you, causing you to double over, interfering with you being your normal self once a month, you should speak to your doctor. Especially if the hot water bottle and an anti-inflammatory aren’t working.
How to know what’s unusual?
Tracking your period through an App (or in your diary if you’re old school) can be really handy to help you learn about what is your “normal”. Some of us can time our period to the hour, others have periods that are reliably unreliable. Identifying a pattern of when you experience pain, for how long and at what stage of your cycle each month is important so you can see when something isn’t quite right, and when you might need to ask for a second opinion. Apps allow you to keep track of when your period starts, how long it lasts, when you have cramps, as well as other symptoms – for more info on these. Apps and our round up of the best ones, read this.
What could my severe period pain be indicating?
Pain that is new, worsening, or changing over time, can be a sign of an underlying condition. A rapid or significant shift in the level of pain you’re in is definitely something you want to talk to your doctor about, some common causes are:
- Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus grows outside your uterus. Read more info and hear one woman’s experience with this common condition
- Fibroids and adenomyosis have similar symptoms, including abdominal pain and in general terms are described as non-cancerous (benign) growths in the uterus. See our blog here.
- Ovarian cysts are closed, sac-like structures within the ovary that are filled with a liquid or semisolid substance, usually the pain caused by this would be on one side only and quite sharp.
It’s important not to jump to conclusions when you’re experiencing pain and to
speak to your doctor as quickly as you can. They can assess your situation and recommend the best course of action.
Don’t Panic! Most causes for cramping can be managed. Fibroids can be removed. Endometriosis and adenomyosis can be managed with things like hormonal medications, pain medication, and minimally invasive surgery.
There’s also lots of natural ways to help manage and ease pain – despite it being the last thing you want to do, exercise helps to release endorphins that provide pain relief, yoga can relax and strengthen your pelvic muscles to improve over time and vitamins can do wonders to lower inflammation in your
So for a final note, our rule is – if in doubt, don’t ignore period pain, see a
Want to know more? Check out our blog What causes period pain?