Period pains: 3 menstrual conditions you should never ignore

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Period pains: 3 menstrual conditions you should never ignore

Most women experience symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) during their period, such as mood swings and feeling bloated – but for others it can be extremely painful.

Periods usually last between three and eight days, but on average they continue for five days, with heavier bleeding usually experienced on day two.

However, for women who have painful periods, don’t have them at all, or have never experienced one, this could be down to a certain condition.

Dr Bella Todd has urged women to consult a medical professional if you experience persistent problems.

Disruptive cycles and painful periods could be down to three reasons, claims the doctor.

Dysmenorrhea

Women who experience painful periods could be suffering from dysmenorrhea – and there are two different types of this illness.

The first involves cramps and pains that are caused by strong contractions in the uterus, this causes areas of the uterus to not get enough blood flow for a short duration.

Meanwhile, the second occurs when pain is caused by another disease, such as endometriosis, adenomyosis or fibroids.

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Three quarters of women experience discomfort during sex

Women who experience painful periods could be suffering from dysmenorrhea

If the pain doesn’t subside after medication, Dr Todd recommends visiting your doctor.

She told The Sun: “Usually, primary dysmenorrhea gets better as you get older. There isn’t really a cure, until you stop having periods altogether.”

To treat the primary illness, accessible treatments such as warm baths, heat packs, and even exercise are advised.

Medical treatment is another option, including anti-inflammatory medications, and a form of contraception such as the pill.

Amenorrhea

Similarly, there are two types of amenorrhea that women can experience.

The first involves someone who has never had a period by the age of 15, or shows no signs of sexual development alongside never having a period by the age of 13.

Sexual development signs include pubic hair growth and breast development.

It is advised to visit your GP for an assessment if this happens.

Dr Todd, who is working with period underwear brand Modibodi, explained: “They may well suggest you just wait a bit longer, or, if there’s no evidence of other sexual development, tests might be recommended.”

The second type involves women who have had a period at some point, but this has since stopped.

“If you’ve previously had regular periods, but haven’t had one for three months, or if you’ve previously had irregular periods and haven’t had a period for six months, then see your doctor to find out why,” says Dr Todd.

“The first obvious cause that we need to rule out (or in) is pregnancy, and this is actually the cause much more often than people realise.

“Other common causes are weight loss or gain, over-exercising, being extremely stressed, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and other hormonal problems, such as thyroid issues.”

Fibroids

Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in or around the womb.

According to the NHS, they are made up of muscle and fibrous tissue, and can vary in size.

Dr Todd added they can grow in different layers of the uterus wall, while some can grow as big as a rockmelon.

She said: “By the age of 50 (around the time of menopause), 70 percent of women will have had fibroids.

“Since female hormones stimulate fibroids to grow, they are common during reproductive years when these hormones are higher, especially in your later reproductive years before menopause.

“After menopause, when these hormone levels drop, fibroids tend to shrink or even go away completely.”

The doctor explained that your risk of developing fibroids can increase if you have a family history of the condition, are obese, have polycystic ovary syndrome, have never given birth, or had your first period young.

If the fibroids are causing you painful periods, they will be treated in the same way as dysmenorrhoea – however if they are not causing issues, your GP won’t usually do anything about them.

She added that the hormonal therapy GnRH can be used to shrink fibroids, but this would need to be discussed with your gynaecologist first.

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