During our #NoBigDeal campaign for Menstrual Hygiene Day, we talked about how health professionals focus often suggest that if your periods are so painful that you just can’t carry on with your daily-life activities, there probably is an underlying health condition responsible for it. Because periods are not supposed to bring your life to a complete halt.
Today, let’s figure out what those underlying causes could be. So, here’s looking at five possible conditions that could be responsible for your excruciating period cramps:
1. Uterine fibroids
Fibroids are benign tumours of smooth muscle that are a very common occurrence in the uterus of several women. According to a study, uterine fibroids are “usually multiple, and can range in size from a few millimetres to massive growths of 20cm diameter and more.”
The study goes on to highlight that these tumours are very less likely to turn carcinogenic; however, they can cause a variety of unmanageable symptoms such as abnormal uterine bleeding, pelvic pain, dyspareunia, obstructive effects on bladder or rectum, and infertility. And because these abnormal growths increase the surface area of the uterine lining, the amount of cramping and bleeding during your period may become extremely intense.
The line of treatment for uterine fibroids involves prescribing hormonal birth control pills to relieve cramping or simply surgically removing the tumours if they’re too big or perceived to be dangerous by the doctor.
2. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
You should be particularly cautious if you’ve had/have multiple sexual partners or have sexual intercourse without using protection, because in a majority of cases, PID occurs due to untreated sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia as per the Centres for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), U.S.
The bacteria that cause these STIs enter and infect the vagina first, gradually making its way into the female genital tract and causing inflammation in the female reproductive organs including the fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and the uterus. However, it can also be caused due to an intrauterine device (IUD) that is inserted in the uterus for contraception or through practices such as vaginal douching.
CDC also mentions that PID is characterized by pain in the lower abdomen, fever, burning sensation while urinating, spotting between periods, experiencing pain during sexual intercourse, and an unusual vaginal discharge with a bad odour.
Needless to say, intense period pain is yet another side-effect of PID and if you experience it alongside the symptoms mentioned above, you’ve got to see the doc immediately.
3. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOD)
This is hands down, the most common underlying health condition responsible for a super-painful period in most women. PCOD is a result of a hormonal imbalance in the body due to your genetic history or simply because of a poor, sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle, which results in excess production of the male sex hormone called androgen and in the formation of cysts in the ovaries, hindering the process of ovulation.
As per a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, PCOD symptoms include acne, irregular periods, spotting between periods, painful menstrual cramps, excessive facial hair, and extreme mood swings. In fact, it can lead to diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and infertility if left untreated.
Though the usual line of PCOD treatment involves the use of hormonal birth control pills to balance out the hormones in the body, it can be controlled by following a healthy lifestyle to a great extent.
According to a study published in the journal Reproductive Sciences, endometriosis affects an estimated 10% of women in the reproductive-age group and is an “oestrogen-dependent disorder”, wherein a tissue similar to the one that forms the lining of your uterus (endometrium) grows outside of your uterine cavity. In fact, this endometrial tissue can grow so much that it can reach and grow over the ovaries, bowel, intestines, and tissues lining your pelvis.
It can make your life hell, sex painful, period cramps excruciating, and bowel movements and urination uncomfortable. With no definite cure or treatment, the case of endometriosis can only be solved by a qualified gynaecologist.
Adenomyosis is common in perimenopausal and premenopausal women and happens when the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus (the myometrium). The displaced tissue continues to act normally and thickens, and breaks down during each menstrual cycle—only causing way more pain than a normal period would usually cause.
According to a study published in a journal regulated by the German Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics, its symptoms include heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, knifelike pelvic pain during menstruation, and chronic pelvic pain. The study also prompts at the fact that even though the causes of adenomyosis are still unknown, prior uterine surgery for fibroid removal or just a C-section can make a woman more vulnerable to this condition.
So if your periods hurt like hell, then perhaps its time to visit a gynaecologist to rule out the possibility of these health conditions.