When it comes to our periods, “life is like a box of chocolates,” which means life is unpredictable and full of surprises; you never know what will happen next. Whether this is your first period or your last, a monthly menstrual cycle is certain to be different for each person.
What’s in a name?
There have been so many names, over 5,000 to be exact, that women used to describe their period. It is doubtful that many women go around calling it menstruation or menstrual cycle, instead they use different nicknames to keep the experience of it light. Whether you call your cycle “your friend,” or “that time of the month,” period pain can be very real.
How many suffer from cramps?
You are not alone! Did you know there is actual data on cramps, letting us know how many women in the U.S. suffer from period pain or PMS? According to Statista Research Dept, the numbers were 31.31 million in the U.S. in 2020.
For teens just starting their monthly cycles, it’s important to know the facts, so they can be prepared before they start. Some teens and women are hesitant to talk to their doctors about cramps, but you should let your doctor know what you are experiencing.
What are cramps?
You may feel throbbing or cramping in your lower abdomen, feel pressure in your lower back or inner thighs. Cramps usually begin a day or two before your period, peaking around 24-hours after your period starts. They typically last for 2-3 days according to Healthline. There may be other causes for cramps, including:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Cervical stenosis
Be sure to talk with your OB-GYN regarding any period issues you may be experiencing.
Why are cramps worse some months?
Sometimes when we think we’ve got the cramp thing all figured out, here comes a rough patch of true PMS. A pain log is a great tool to let your doctor know that your symptoms are tied to your period. This will help your doctor determine a course of treatment for you. Be sure to note in your log:
- When your symptoms occurred
- The type of symptoms you’re having
- The severity and length of symptoms
What can you do to ease the pain?
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are steps you can take including pain relievers (over the counter), hormonal birth control or surgery if your cramps are caused by other disorders. If you suffer from severe period pain, talk with your doctor about possible treatments. They are there to support you and help guide your health.
How to take charge of your period?
You can embrace the beauty of it and take a positive attitude towards self-care. The Mayo Clinic outlines some steps you can take:
- Get enough sleep and rest
- Exercise regularly – physical activity, including sex, helps ease cramps for some women
- Use Heat – Soaking in a hot bath, use a heating pad, hot water bottle or heat patch on your lower abdomen
- Reduce stress
For those women who grew up in a certain era, periods were a taboo subject, not discussed outside the home and certainly not on a forum board. Twenty-first century teens and women should feel comfortable discussing their periods with their healthcare team or others.
Take the steps to ensure a positive attitude, remain active and remember not to let “your friend” cramp your style.
The information on this site is intended to raise awareness, and understanding of specific health issues. It should not be used for diagnosis, or a substitute for health care by your physician.