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.

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.

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