Roughly 9 out of 10 women get period pains, which happen when the muscles of the uterus (womb) contract to help shed the womb lining, which is what you experience as a period. The pains usually feel like cramping in the lower abdomen, though may also cause an ache in the back, even an ache at the top of the inner thighs.
The cramps may happen for 2-3 days, can start just before a period – a warning of their arrival. Often the first day is the worst.
Exercise can ease the pain, even a walk may do the trick, or stretching exercises. Exercise produces hormones called endorphins – nature’s natural painkillers.
Heat can help the muscles relax, so taking a hot bath or hugging a heated wheat bag or hot water bottle may be comforting. The most useful painkillers for this type of pain are ibuprofen, though always take those after food, or with milk to help protect the stomach lining.
The medical name for period pain is dysmenorrhoea. If it’s really bad every month then talk to your GP who may prescribe stronger painkillers, or suggest tests to check all is well.
The good news is that period pain often gets easier with age, or after having a baby – though that may be small comfort if you’re a teenager and are doubled up each month.
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