Be it short or long in duration, period cramps totally suck. It’s a common problem faced by many women around the world and also, often ignored as “usual period pain”. If your period cramps aren’t consistent, it’s not an issue at all. However, if the pain gets worse every coming month or the pain is still there when the flow is over, it might not be the “natural cramps” you get. It is also a serious problem if you are bleeding a lot more than usual. Whenever you notice a sudden shift in your cramps, you must not ignore it. It has been found that your period cramps could be trying to indicate serious health issues.
1. Uterine Fibroids
Period cramps could be the result of uterine fibroids. When the pain is way too agonizing and is accompanied by extremely heavy flow, they are a result of uterine fibroids. The cause of these fibroids is still unclear, but they are very common in women in their thirties and forties. The pain could be triggered by inflammation in the uterus or the fibroids pressing against the uterus.
It is always a good idea to check with your OB-GYN when you are suffering from terrible pain and heavy flow. A few scans can determine if you have a fibroid and if it needs to be removed. The removal of fibroids depends on many factors including the size and location of the fibroids. Uterine fibroids are generally sensitive to estrogen and this is why, a woman who gets an Rx for birth control pills feels better in these situations.
2. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
The Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is a serious infection that happens in the uterus, ovaries, and/or the Fallopian tubes. This conditioned can be determined by low-grade but constant pain in the lower abdomen. PID is often caused by untreated STD such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, which often do not have any symptoms at all. The pain in PID doesn’t stab sharply and is a type of indolent pain. When one gets one’s period and the usual cramps are occurring, the pain from PID is felt worse.
PID doesn’t need immediate treatment, but needs to be treated in the long run. The exact cause needs to be found if one is suffering from PID so that the infection is cured. Often, doctors recommend certain antibiotics to treat PID, and if it is left untreated for a long time, there is a chance of a long, scar tissue forming in the reproductive tract that could mess with your fertility.
3. Ovarian Torsion
If you often experience sharp pain on one side, you could be suffering from ovarian torsion. A woman gets ovarian torsion when something like a cyst in one of the ovaries causes the ovary to twist and choke in its own blood. This stabbing pain on one side needs immediate medical attention as it could result in the loss of functioning in the ovary that is affected.
An ultrasound is often recommended by the doctor to check if one is suffering from ovarian torsion. If torsion is diagnosed, an emergency laparoscopic surgery is done to untwist the ovary. However, if the ovary looks nonviable, it needs to be removed completely. In such cases, the healthy ovary takes over with the production of estrogen and with the process of ovulation.
Endometriosis is detected by painful cramps that are not even cured by medicines. It is a condition that makes the uterine tissue migrate to other organs such as the ovaries and Fallopian tubes. This runaway tissue forms into benign cysts over time and the condition takes many years to get diagnosed. This kind of pain interferes with a person’s daily activities and can even make sexual intercourse painful.
It is recommended to check with a doctor when these cramps occur. The endometrial tissue can be diagnosed only through laparoscopic surgery when the doctor might try to remove as much endometrial tissue as possible. However, the tissue can come back as well. Since this tissue is hormone-sensitive, oral contraceptives and other hormonal medicines can cut back the pain that arises from endometriosis.
5. An Ill-Fitting Copper IUD
Whenever a woman get a copper (non-hormonal) IUD inserted into the uterus, first three months of cramping is considered normal as the body takes time to adjust to the foreign device. This is not a very serious health issue but can be treated if there is pain after having no problems at all in the beginning.
You must check with your doctor for a follow-up examination and get an ultrasound done to insure a good position for the copper IUD. Once it fits properly, the cramps will reduce and you will feel easier.
Now that we know what all symptoms point out to what health issues, we must not always ignore our period cramps.