Dealing to Painful Periods
Too many women believe that painful periods are simply part of being a woman – and so they just, well, deal with it. The reality is there are many things a gynaecologist can do to improve women’s periods, from recommending evidence-based self-care practices to more significant interventions.
If pain levels are at the stage where you can’t participate in life as usual or need to take time off work, it’s probably time to see a gynaecologist.
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
What can a gynaecologist do to help with painful periods?
Ok. So what kind of conditions might cause painful periods?
The most common underlying cause of excessively painful periods is endometriosis, a disorder suffered by one in ten women. This is where endometrial-like tissue – similar to the tissue lining the womb (uterus) – grows in other parts of the body, usually the pelvis. At its worst, the condition can be debilitating for women; and even at its mildest, extremely disruptive to life.
Other underlying causes could be an inflammation of the fallopian tubes or growths in the uterus, called fibroids. There are also some types of intrauterine devices (IUD) used for contraception that can make periods painful.
What will the doctor need to know about my periods?
The first consultation is likely to include a lot of discussion about your cycle and what happens to your body during your period. A gynaecologist is a specialist in women’s health so their questions will be more comprehensive than your GP’s. Give as much information as possible about your period cycles, including when the pain starts, how long it lasts and when it is most severe. It’s useful to note down your symptoms against a calendar or use a period tracker app to record what’s going on for you.
What tests will the doctor run?
What kinds of treatments are there for painful periods?
For mild dysmenorrhea, the doctor can recommend a range of self-care practices that are proven to reduce pain and discomfort. This includes gentle exercise, pressing a heat source against the abdomen and reducing caffeine and alcohol. Making tweaks to your usual diet can really help, and your gynaecologist might refer you to a dietician for specific recommendations for diet and supplements. Anti-inflammatory pain relief like ibuprofen is also proven to help.
Taking contraceptive pills or having an IUD fitted (intrauterine device – such as the Mirena) can reduce the frequency and intensity of periods, which in turn reduces pain. This works by changing hormone levels to suppress ovulation and menstruation.
In cases of secondary dysmenorrhea, where period pain is linked to an underlying condition, your gynaecologist will talk you through the options available through surgical treatment. Often these surgeries are minimally invasive and can be conducted in the comfort of our clinic.