Close

We use cookies to give you the best possible online experience. If you continue, we'll assume you are happy for your web browser to receive all cookies from our website. See our cookie policy for more information on cookies and how to manage them.

Painful Periods

Many women experience mild cramping pain in the lower abdomen during menstruation. This pain is considered normal unless it interferes with everyday activities; it can usually be relieved with painkillers. If you regularly have severe pain or if your periods become more painful than usual, you should consult your doctor.

  • How does the pain you are currently experiencing compare with that of previous periods?

    • No worse than usual
      • Possible cause Some menstrual pain is quite normal; it is known as primary dysmenorrhoea.

        Self-help Take a painkiller. Make an appointment to see your doctor if pain interferes with normal activities.

    • Worse than usual

      Have you had an unusual vaginal discharge between periods?

      • No discharge

        Have you had any of the following symptoms?

        • Abdominal pain that persists between periods
        • Low back pain that persists between periods
        • Fever
        • None of the above

          Do you have an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD)?

          • IUD
            • Possible cause An increase in menstrual pain is often a side effect of IUDs (see Contraception).

              Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor.

          • No IUD

            Have your periods become heavier or longer as well as more painful?

            • Heavier
              • Possible cause You may possibly have a gynaecological disorder such as fibroids or endometriosis.

                Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor.

            • Longer
              • Possible cause You may possibly have a gynaecological disorder such as fibroids or endometriosis.

                Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor.

            • Neither
              • If you cannot identify a possible cause for your painful periods from this chart, make an appointment to see your doctor.

      • Discharge

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

Back to top

Search the
Medical Encyclopedia

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.