We get it - periods are necessary for a healthy cycle, but let’s face facts - we’re pretty sure that no women actually enjoys their period.
It’s not even just that week that it puts you out for - it’s the build up, the spots, the tiredness. You name it and most women probably suffer from it during their time of the month.
But for some women, their symptoms go above and beyond and as such, we’ve sat down with Dr Preethi Daniel, Medical Director at London Doctors Clinic to find out what’s considered normal pain, the reasons behind certain period symptoms and when it’s time to chat to a professional.
Why do I get back pain on my period?
Back pain is a common symptom for most women on their periods. Most commonly, it’s because of aching muscles which is a result of chemical messengers in your body. Prostaglandins - which are hormone-like chemicals - act as messengers to make your womb contract in order to rid your body of the lining, causing period blood. It’s also able to stop itself from bleeding too much.
However, this can be passed on via nerves in the pelvic area to the lower back, causing back pain.
What causes pain during a period?
Period pains are a result of fluctuation in hormones. Your levels fluctuate and therefore affect blood supply, your nerves in your pelvis, as well as your breasts. These hormones also make your womb contract in order to get rid of the lining (which causes the bleeding) but it’s also designed to stop itself from bleeding too much. This in turn causes cramp like pain.
Why do I feel pain before my period starts?
This is again, due to hormones.
If the egg has not met a sperm during that cycle, then the body prepares to get rid of the lining of the womb in order to start your period.
This preparation causes a change in certain hormone levels, which causes pain.
Why do I feel pain after my period has finished?
So, your period is over and you’re probably thinking ‘thank goodness’… only to continue to suffer from period pain. This is normally due to the ovary changing in order to prepare making another mature egg in anticipation of a sperm arriving.
However, it could also be your womb trying to expel the last of the blood. Another option might be down to your birth control pill because this can cause an artificial change in hormone levels.
Can I be pregnant and still get period pains?
Simple answer - yes.
Whilst concealed pregnancies are rare, they’re not entirely uncommon.
Implantation is when the egg and sperm embed into the pre-prepared thick bed of the womb lining and this can also cause a bleed, which can be mistaken for a period.
Why do I have period pains but no period?
This is almost certainly down to a hormone imbalance and could be due to external hormones such a the pill.
When should I be worried and go to my doctor about period pains?
Period pains should never stop you from losing one or two days of normal functioning. You should still be able to go to school, college or work as normal with the help of a painkiller or two.
However, if the period pains are associated with much heavier periods where you are changing your pad or tampon more often or if you’re passing clots, then it is advisable that you go to the doctor.
What are the symptoms of period pains?
They normally include cramping in your tummy, as well as irritability, breast pain, back pain, nausea, migraines and severe headaches.
Why do my boobs hurt when I’m on my period?
Your chest is probably painful due to a surge in hormones, specifically oestrogen. This also causes breast tissue to swell.
Can period pains be a sign of early pregnancy?
Yes, a lot of the symptoms of periods mimic early pregnancy. You can have cramping in your lower tummy, as well as nausea and breast pain - symptoms which are often associated with both periods and pregnancy.
However, it’s always worth taking a pregnancy test if you have the above symptoms but no bleeding.