Period Pain

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Period pain can cause painful cramping in the lower stomach that can spread to the back and thighs. This pain can sometimes be intense and other times dull and constant. The medical term for painful periods is dysmenorrhoea.

You can order treatment for period pain relief from our UK registered online doctor service. We currently offer the painkiller mefenamic acid to help relieve period pain. Simply complete an online assessment for our doctors to check. If your order is approved by our doctors, a prescription is sent to our pharmacy team. From here, it is dispatched to your delivery address.

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Period pain, or dysmenorrhoea, is a common problem that many women experience. It can have a significant impact on a woman’s quality of life and well-being. As well as pain, women may also experience other menstrual symptoms like nausea, fatigue, bloating and headaches. There are two types of dysmenorrhoea: primary and secondary.

Primary dysmenorrhoea

Primary dysmenorrhoea is when a person experiences period pain regularly during their period. There’s no specific cause for it, and it usually starts towards the beginning of menstrual life. Primary dysmenorrhoea isn’t caused by any other medical conditions or diseases. This is a common type of period pain.

Primary dysmenorrhoea happens when the muscles in the wall of the womb contract. Mild contractions do occur in the womb usually, but they’re mild enough that most women won’t feel them. Around the time that your period starts, womb contractions get stronger to help the womb lining shed.

These contractions reduce oxygen and blood supply to the womb and trigger pain sensations. At the same time, levels of chemicals called prostaglandins rise in the body which causes the womb muscles to contract more and lead to more menstrual pain.

Certain factors can increase your risk of having primary dysmenorrhoea. This includes having your first period at an early age, heavy bleeding during periods, stress, and a family history of painful periods.

Secondary dysmenorrhoea

Secondary dysmenorrhoea is less common and happens when a medical condition is the cause of the period pain. This is usually seen in older women and usually starts after several years of painless periods. Conditions that can cause period pain include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), fibroids, adenomyosis and endometriosis

Your painful periods may be caused by a medical condition if you’ve never experienced painful periods until recently. Another sign is that you experience the painful sensation at other times, not just when you have your period. It’s important to be seen by your GP if you think your painful periods are caused by a medical condition.


Period Pain Relief

If your painful periods are caused by other medical problems, you will need to be treated for these conditions. Some women may need to be referred to a specialist or have surgery, depending on the condition that’s causing the pain.

There are several treatments for painful periods not caused by medical conditions. Women can use painkillers like ibuprofen, mefenamic acid, and paracetamol for period pain. These can be used as period pain relief tablets on a regular basis.

Mefenamic acid and ibuprofen belong to a group of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These are thought to reduce period pain because they can reduce prostaglandin levels in the body, as well as providing general pain relief. Your doctor may also prescribe another NSAID, naproxen, for period pain.

Some women may try hormonal birth control like combined pills or progestogen-only pills like desogestrel. Taking hormonal contraceptives can sometimes help women with painful or heavy periods.

There are also some tips you can try such as using a hot water bottle to soothe the area, having a back and stomach massage, and wearing loose-fitting clothing around the time of your period. Some lifestyle changes may help. See this leaflet on period pain from the Women’s Health Concern website for details about lifestyle changes.


Period Pain Symptoms

Painful periods usually feel like painful muscle cramps in the lower stomach. Sometimes this can spread to cause inner thigh and lower back pain on periods. This can be dull and constant or come in waves of intense spasms. Often women who experience painful periods will have other menstrual symptoms like vomiting, nausea, and diarrhoea.


What is the best painkiller for period pain?

The best tablets for period pain will differ from person to person. Some people will find taking paracetamol or ibuprofen is effective at providing relief. Others may need to speak to their GP to get stronger painkillers like naproxen and mefenamic acid. 

What self-help measures can I try for period pain?

Gentle exercising like swimming, walking or cycling may help to reduce the pain. A warm bath, or sleeping with a hot water bottle may also help soothe period pain. Having a back and stomach massage may be useful, and relaxation techniques like yoga or pilates can also help.

If you smoke, stopping smoking may help improve the pain. It’s thought that smoking increases period pain because it may reduce the supply of oxygen to the pelvic area.

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