What Causes Period Pain?
Period pain is a normal part of life for many women. But, do you know why it happens?
The menstrual cycle
Before you find out what causes period pain, it might help to understand a little bit more about the menstrual cycle.
The menstrual cycle is the natural process that happens every month as your body gets ready for pregnancy. The typical menstrual cycle is 28 days long. At the start of each cycle, the uterus begins to develop a soft lining of blood-rich tissue in preparation for an egg that will be released from the ovaries (this is called ovulation). If fertilised, the egg would develop into a baby. If fertilisation does not occur, then the blood-rich lining of the womb is shed, as it’s no longer needed. This is called a period, or menstruation.
Why period pain happens
During the time that the lining of the womb is being shed, you might experience some cramping pain in your lower stomach, your lower back and at the top of your legs – this is period pain or menstrual pain.
The reason you feel pain is that your womb is contracting (or squeezing) to remove the lining that it no longer needs because you are not pregnant. It’s thought that pain-causing chemicals, called prostaglandins, are involved in helping the womb contract. Unfortunately, they also make you feel pain.
For some women their menstrual pain can be mild, but in others the pain can be more severe and interfere with life. No one really knows why, but it could be that if you have more severe pain you may have too many prostaglandins making the contractions stronger and causing more pain.
Period pain is a perfectly natural part of being female. For most women, period pain is nothing to worry about – all you have to do is learn how to manage it. However, if you feel the pain persists for more than a few days, is getting worse or interferes with your life you may want to see your doctor or pharmacist. For more information on ways to manage period pain, go to the article Tips for Managing Period Pain.