How to relieve menstrual pain?

It is quite common to have a number of symptoms during menstruation that can become uncomfortable. From period pains to the inability to concentrate on a task, not to mention the lingering discomfort of bloating and irritability. 

An excess of prostaglandins, substances that help the endometrium shed and leave the body, cause menstrual cramps. Prostaglandins stimulate the uterus to contract, allowing the uterine lining to shed through contractions, which feel like cramps. This is a natural physiological procedure and necessary for the menstrual cycle to be completed.

Why do menstrual cramps occur?

Menstrual cramps usually occur before or during the onset of menstruation. They can last for a single day or up to three days. These pains will be felt in a variety of ways, sometimes they will be quite severe and terrible, and at other times they will be almost undetectable.

According to a study published in 2016, one in ten women have severe menstrual pain that interferes with their daily activities for one to three days throughout each cycle. Menstrual discomfort, which can range from mild to severe, is most common two to three days after the onset of menstruation, according to the study, and may subside after turning 20 or following pregnancy and childbirth.

More acute or intense menstrual pain, on the other hand, is related to pelvic diseases such as endometriosis, adenomyosis or even hormonal imbalance. 

Menstrual pain so intense that it prevents you from doing your daily activities is not normal. If this is the case, it is essential to consult with menstrual health professionals who take a holistic approach.

Tips to eliminate menstrual cramps

Menstrual health encompasses not only the proper use of sanitary products, but also the ability to have pain-free periods. For this reason, it is strongly advised to have healthy habits that help avoid menstrual pain. For example:

  • Menstrual inflammation and pain can be reduced by using heat in the pelvic area.
  • To relieve menstrual pain and minimize pelvic inflammation, use menstrual infusions.
  • Use anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen if the pain is severe.
  • Magnesium, vitamin B1 and zinc supplements can help relieve menstrual discomfort and reduce the use of anti-inflammatory drugs as a prophylactic measure.
  • Use a cream for menstrual cramps in the morning and evening.
  • The use of hormonal contraceptives to regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce menstrual pain is only indicated by a menstrual health specialist for a very particular case of debilitating menstrual pain.
  • Reduce salt and fat intake through dietary adjustments.
  • Every day, go for a walk.
  • If menstrual cramps make your life miserable, you should see a menstrual health specialist.

Menstrual cycle

The reactivation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, as well as the growth axis, is the most significant shift. The adrenal and thyroid glands have previously undergone maturational changes. The levels of estrogen and LH (luteinizing hormone) do not start to rise until 9-12 years of age. Socioeconomic level, geographic origin, exposure to substances or other environmental factors, genetic effects, psychological factors, and physical activity all influence pubertal development and menarche onset.

The regular menstrual cycle is the product of the hypothalamus, pituitary, ovaries, and uterus interacting: it is a complicated link between hormonal secretion and physiological activities that prepare the body for a future pregnancy. The ovarian cycle and the endometrial cycle are distinct. The ovarian cycle has two phases: follicular and luteal, while the endometrial cycle has three phases: proliferative, secretory, and desquamation (menstruation).

The follicular phase lasts from the first day of the cycle (the first day of the period) to the fourteenth day of the cycle, albeit this duration can vary, and this variability is what causes monthly abnormalities. It necessitates the pulsatile but sustained release of hypothalamic GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone), which stimulates and regulates FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH secretion in the pituitary gland. Increased FSH and hormonal feedback promote the formation of primordial follicles and an increase in E2 by ovarian granulosa cells. This raises the level of LH, and a dominant follicle emerges in the middle of the cycle to mature and prepare for ovulation. Under the trophic impacts of estrogen, the endometrium begins its proliferative phase with an increase in the thickness of its arteries, stroma, and glandular structures during this period.

Around day 14, ovulation occurs after 34-36 hours of peak LH secretion, followed by atresia of the other follicles and evacuation of the egg from the dominant follicle. The corpus luteum, responsible for estrogen and progesterone production, begins to form during the next three days.

The luteal phase is the period between ovulation and the start of menstruation. Because of the increased amounts of E2 and progesterone, LH and FSH release is drastically reduced. The endometrium enters its secretory phase, during which it thickens, experiences spiral artery vascular growth, grows its glandular structure, and matures its stroma. If there is no pregnancy, the corpus luteum atrophies after 10-14 days. This will decrease ovarian hormones (E2 and progesterone) and promote GnRH, FSH, and LH release in the hypothalamus and pituitary, kicking off a new ovarian and endometrial cycle.

Menstruation is the normal monthly shedding of the endometrial mucus as a consequence of hormonal deficiency, and its remains, along with blood, mucus and vaginal cells, are expelled through the vagina. These cyclic variations are crucial because they serve as the basis for an indirect technique for monitoring the endocrine function of the ovary.

The menstrual cycle verifies a young woman's normalcy (in most circumstances) in terms of her future reproductive health and should be considered a vital sign on par with pulse, breathing, and blood pressure.

The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, the bleeding period lasts 5 to 8 days, the amount of menstrual fluid produced every cycle ranges from 30 to 80 ml, and the time between menses is 24 to 38 days. Some authors believe that cycles between 21 and 45 days are normal in adolescents, while others believe that this could postpone the detection of a problematic situation.