A Holistic Approach to Painful Menstrual Cycles
For some women, period pain can be so bad they miss work, miss classes, and stay home in bed with a heating pad, waiting for it to be over. We understand how debilitating period pain can be. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We believe one of the best ways to find long-lasting period pain relief is to understand your pain and what’s causing it.
Period Pain Symptoms
Every woman is different, and every woman will have different types and levels of period pain. But here are some of the most common symptoms:
- Severe cramping
- Back pain during period
- Leg pain during period
Risk Factors for Having Painful Periods
Again, not every woman has painful periods. You may be at risk if:
- Your mother or sisters have (or had) painful periods.
- You’re under the age of 30.
- You had your first period at age 11 or before.
- You have heavy bleeding during your period (menorrhagia).
- You have irregular periods (metrorrhagia).
- You smoke.
That last one is something you can do something about right away. Quit smoking. Studies show a strong correlation between smoking cigarettes and painful periods.
What Causes Period Pain?
During your period, your body is shedding off the inner lining of the uterus, which built up in preparation to nourish a fertilized egg from conception to birth. But since your cycle didn’t result in a pregnancy, your body starts the cycle over, resulting in your menses.
This process happens because of the production of inflammatory chemicals called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are chemicals that cause mini contractions of your uterus, expelling the tissue that built up during your cycle. For many girls and women, the contractions are small enough that the process isn’t very painful.
Dysmenorrhea = Painful Periods
The medical term for painful menstrual cramping is dysmenorrhea. The cramping is the culprit behind painful periods. The most common cause of painful cramping is due to increased amounts of prostaglandins or increased sensitivity to them. Higher levels of prostaglandins result in stronger cramping. Studies show that primary dysmenorrhea can affect up to 91% of women of reproductive age; with 2-29% of the women studied reporting severe symptoms that affected their quality of life.
The increased inflammation with dysmenorrhea can cause more than severe cramps. It can also cause all those period pain symptoms we mentioned above, including:
- Back pain
- Leg pain
Other Causes of Dysmenorrhea
There are other causes of painful periods that are less common, including:
- Endometriosis (affects 10% of women globally)
- Uterine fibroids (affects 25% of women of reproductive age, and 70-80% of women over 50)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (affects about 1 million women in the U.S., mostly under age 25)
- Cervical stenosis (affects about 10% of women)
Period pain that gets worse after the age of 40 is called secondary dysmenorrhea. It could be a sign of endometriosis or uterine fibroids. You should discuss your symptoms with your gynecologist.
Period Pain FAQs
Q: Can birth control pills help with painful periods?
A: For some women, yes. But the hormones in birth control pills can come with side effects, and might not be appropriate for young girls with period pain. You would need to consult with your gynecologist or family doctor to see if this is a good option for you or your daughter.
Q: Can a chiropractor help stop my painful periods?
A: Yes. Poor spinal health can only increase headaches, bloating, muscle aches, and joint pain and exacerbate cramping. But regular chiropractic care to improve spinal health not only effectively reduces menstrual symptoms, but can also increase fertility during childbearing years.
How Cima Health Can Help
Cima Health provides restorative, lifelong solutions that target the root cause of your period pain. Your care will start out with a comprehensive evaluation to assess the pain. We will also ask questions about your health history, home life, lifestyle, and habits before making recommendations for an integrative plan of care. Together, we come up with conservative and alternative treatments that can help you have a healthy and active pregnancy and increases your odds of an uncomplicated delivery.
Treating and preventing painful periods involves several treatment modalities, all of which you can receive in one location. They include:
Dr. Natalie specializes in helping women, expectant moms, as well as new moms, by providing chiropractic care and alternative medicine options tailored to the unique needs of women. She has special training in techniques to help reduce painful periods, help with PMS symptoms, and even increase fertility if you’re hoping to get pregnant.
The functional medicine team at Cima Health can help create a healthy diet and nutrition plan for you. Certain foods can help reduce inflammation, and reduce cramps and reduce fatigue and irritableness We may also recommend supplements to reduce inflammation and help with cramping, bloating, fatigue, and period-associated headaches. If you remove prostaglandin-promoting foods from your diet, you can reduce inflammation and realize a pain-free period.
Massage therapy can relax you and relieve stress. Massage during your period can focus on relieving abdominal cramps, but can also be a full body massage. As you know, stress can exacerbate a painful period. If you spend intentional time relaxing, you can reduce period pain, and promote better sleep. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep not only makes you feel more rested, and energized, but it can also lower your level of pain associated with your period.
Self-care is important, especially during your period. Pamper yourself. In addition to regular massage, take advantage of our Aesthetic Services while you’re here. Schedule a facial, brow and lash tint, brow shaping, facial waxing, or other treatment. You deserve to look and feel your best!
The physical fitness team of personal trainers at Cima Health can tailor an exercise and stretching program to you to help increase your core strength, endurance, and flexibility – all of which help you feel better all month long. Exercise during your period can also help reduce period pain. Exercise produces endorphins, or the “feel good hormones,” which reduce any pain you might be feeling.
The team here at Cima Health all work closely together to help relieve and prevent your period pain, and inspire you to achieve whole-body wellness.
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Book an Appointment
If you’re looking for a non-invasive, medication-free, and integrative approach to treatment for your painful periods, book an appointment today. Dr. Natalie will do a comprehensive examination to get to the root cause of your pain and develop an integrative plan of care to relieve your pain, prepare you for giving birth, and inspire you to achieve whole-body wellness.