Dysmenorrhoea (period pain) is a very common complaint that refers to painful menstrual cramps in your abdomen. Period pains can be uncomfortable and are usually felt as painful muscle cramps in your lower tummy. These can also spread to your back and thighs. The pain comes in intense spasms or dull but more constant. The pain usually starts when your bleeding begins, and normally lasts for 12-24 hours.
Symptoms associated with periods can be treated with over the counter medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Ibuprofen) have been used successfully for treating period pain. Some women also find the combined oral contraceptive pill can help reduce pain and discomfort.
Conventional methods to treat period pain works for approximately 75-80% of women. For some women this may not be suitable or there may be contra-indications of taking this medication alongside other medications already taken. In addition to traditional medicines, there are a number of herbal treatments available too that may help. Chinese herbal medicine has been used for centuries in China and it is currently used in public hospitals in China for the treatment of period pain. There are now also practices in the UK who treat period pain and other health conditions using traditional Chinese Medicine.
There are some simple treatments that can easily be administered at home including using a hot water bottle against the abdomen, taking a warm bath or shower, massaging the area and using relaxation techniques.
Occasionally, period pain can be caused by an underlying medical condition such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease. If you are concerned about your period pain it is worth checking this with your GP so they can ensure there is no underlying medical condition.
Sources used in writing this article are available on request
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Information written by the talkhealth team
Last revised: 11 June 2014
Next review: 11 June 2017