Anyone can have painful periods. But there are some risk factors to know. For example, women under age 20 or who have never had a baby may have more painful periods. Women who have irregular cycles, reached puberty before age 11, or smoke may also be at higher risk for dysmenorrhea. Consider these 3 additional reasons why painful periods may be an issue.
This condition occurs when a woman’s uterine lining grows outside the uterus. The lining may grow in the ovaries, pelvic tissue, or fallopian tubes. Extremely painful periods are a common symptom of endometriosis. Many women take hormonal birth control or have surgery to treat endometriosis.
2. Uterine fibroids
Fibroids are growths in the uterus. These growths are typically noncancerous. But fibroids do put pressure on the uterus. Many women who have fibroids are unaware of the condition. In some cases, however, fibroids may cause painful or abnormal bleeding.
3. Ovarian cysts
Similar to fibroids, ovarian cysts are abnormal growths. However, these growths are fluid-filled sacs that grow in or on the ovaries. Ovarian cysts usually form during a woman’s menstrual cycle. A woman may have follicle cysts, corpus luteum cysts, or even cysts caused by endometriosis.
Some women can manage painful periods at home by taking warm baths, using heating pads, or practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation. Others find that changing the diet to eat more nutritious foods can help. Women may also take anti-inflammatory medicines or supplements such as magnesium, B vitamins, calcium, or omega-3 fatty acids. Refraining from caffeine, sugar, and alcohol leading up to and during a period can also help.
When to seek treatment
If home remedies fail to bring relief, many women can take hormonal birth control to manage period pain. If there is an underlying condition such as a fibroid, women may have surgery to remove the growths. In rarer cases, women may opt for a hysterectomy to treat severe pelvic pain. For more information about painful periods and treatment options, speak with a healthcare provider.