Do you have painful periods? You’re not alone! Most women feel some discomfort during that time of the month. Let’s learn more about it.
Menstrual pain (also called “dysmenorrhea” or “algomenorrhea”) refers to cramping (or throbbing) in the lower abdomen, sometimes accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:
• Pain or heaviness in the legs
• Lower back pain
• Tender, swollen breasts
• Fatigue or weakness
The length and timing of menstrual pain varies significantly from one woman to another. They can start before or during your period and, at times, last a few days after the end of bleeding.
The majority of research on PMS and menstrual pain has identified the following as possible risk factors:
• Lack of exercise
• Insufficient sleep
• Drinking alcohol during the menstrual period
• Nutritional deficiencies in vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium and magnesium
• Consuming too much caffeine, salt, sugar and red meat
• Carrying excess weight
• Significant stress, anxiety
• Early onset of puberty (before 11 years of age)
• Use of an intrauterine device (IUD), especially copper
Prevention and treatment
Preventing painful periods involves a healthy diet and lifestyle. This can include:
- Consuming only moderate quantities of red meat, coffee (especially during menstruation), sugar and salt
- Getting enough sleep
- Exercising on a regular basis (preferably aerobic-type activities)
- Doing relaxation exercises
The following methods can also help to reduce menstrual pain:
- Heat: hot water bottle placed on your stomach, hot bath
- Mild exercise (walking, stretching, cycling, etc.)
Depending on the severity and intensity of the pain, doctors can prescribe or recommend certain options: over-the-counter pain reliever (e.g. ibuprofen), prescription pain medication, certain oral contraceptives, and in very severe cases, medication that triggers the temporary onset of menopause.
Do you experience painful periods? Speak with your family pharmacists for answers to your questions and expert advice! Your pharmacists can also prescribe* medications for certain minor health problems, such as dysmenorrhea, when the treatment and diagnosis are known. A consultation will be required so the pharmacist can make sure you meet the prescribing criteria.
To avail yourself of this service, you may need to book an appointment with your family pharmacist. Ask a member of the pharmacy team for more details. Some Uniprix-affiliated pharmacies also offer an online appointment booking service. To locate the store nearest you providing this service, click here.