What Causes Period Pain

For girls and women, the menstrual cycle is the natural process that happens every month as the body prepares itself for pregnancy. During this time when the lining of the womb is being shed, it’s perfectly normal to experience some cramping pain in the lower abdomen. Occasionally, there may be some pain in the lower back and the top of your legs.

What is the menstrual cycle?

The menstrual cycle is the natural process that happens once every month as a woman’s body prepares itself for pregnancy. 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 fertilized, the egg may develop into a baby. If fertilization 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 menstruation, it’s normal to experience some cramping pain in the lower abdomen, the lower back and the top of your legs. This is often referred to as period pain.

The pain occurs as a result of the womb contracting (or squeezing) to remove the lining that it no longer needs. Chemicals called prostaglandins are known to cause pain and are involved in helping the womb contract.

For some women and girls, menstrual pain is mild, but in others, the pain can be more severe. No one really knows why, but it could be that some women produce more prostaglandins or are more sensitive to pain than others. This can make the womb squeeze especially hard, briefly reducing the blood supply to the womb which causes even more pain.

As a rule, menstrual pain is nothing to worry about – all you have to do is learn how to manage it, perhaps with a pain killer such as Panadol®, or other tried and tested methods including exercise or applying heat.

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