Painful periods are another very common complaint that I hear as a gynecologist.
My job as the physician is to listen to a patient and to trust her on her report of how painful her periods are, and how interfering they are with her lifestyle.
What Causes Painful Periods?
The most common cause is what we call “essential dysmenorrhea.”
This simply means that the periods hurt, but there no underlying problem or cause.
When a woman has a period, the uterine muscle itself is cramping, and it’s doing so in order to shed the lining of the uterus. When this muscle is cramping, it can be painful.
There are also other medical conditions that can cause periods to be painful. One of these is fibroids.
Fibroids are benign tumors of the uterus itself.
If a woman has a fibroid, they’re more likely to have both painful periods and heavy periods.
Another common condition is endometriosis.
Endometriosis is when the lining of the uterus is actually outside the uterus. This lining can be on the outside surface of the uterus, or it can also be in other places of the pelvis, possibly even covering the bowels.
While a woman is having her period and she is bleeding, this endometriosis outside the uterus is also bleeding, which causes pain in the pelvis and causes some women to have periods that are very painful.
Exam and Treatment Options
When a woman comes in to discuss this condition, I begin with a good medical history, and then talk about the specifics of their symptoms.
I will also do a physical exam, and may even order an ultrasound.
Then we can examine different treatment options based upon what we discover.
The good news it that there are very good treatment options available.
Some women will respond simply to taking non-steroidals such as ibuprofen and Midol.
Other women will respond to birth control pills.
For some women, a visit to the operating room may be required to look and see if there is endometriosis, and to treat it if present.
You Don’t Have To Live With Painful Periods
A woman should not accept painful periods as just normalcy.
If you’re experiencing pain during your periods, please schedule an appointment to come in and see if we can help make your life more comfortable.