Most women experience period pain at some point in their life—it’s a common symptom among menstruating women and it’s part of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). However, as you approach menopause period pain may worsen. One worrying symptom of perimenopause is experiencing period pain, while not having a period. However disconcerting this may be, it’s a common experience.
Period pain occurs when the muscles of the womb contract, compressing the blood vessels and reducing oxygen levels in the tissues. This then causes you to experience pain in the lower abdomen, and sometimes in the back and thighs.
During perimenopause, the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle, in particular estrogen, begin to fluctuate. Naturally, this causes changes in your menstrual cycle: your periods become irregular and eventually stop. At the same time, you may also experience period pain. However, you could experience period pain even when you’re not having a period. Although no one knows exactly why this is, it’s thought to be the result of conflicting messages being sent by your hormones. Eventually, as your hormones settle again, these symptoms should go away.
It’s important to remember that period pain may also be an indication of a more serious health condition, such as endometriosis or ovarian cysts, so if you’re concerned, it’s important to speak to your doctor.
Generally speaking, if period pain doesn’t last for more than a day or two and isn’t severe, then you should be able to treat it at home.
- Exercise – Although the last thing you probably want to do when suffering from period pain is get up and move, exercise can sometimes be beneficial, as it helps stretch and relax your muscles. Moreover, aerobic exercise gets the blood pumping around your body faster, releasing endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller.
- Heat pad or hot water bottle – Heat is an excellent relaxant, and applying heat to your tense uterine muscles can bring the quickest relief. You need to be careful, however, that you don’t burn your skin, particularly if you’re using a hot water bottle.
- Warm bath or shower - Much like the heat pads, warm water helps relax all your muscles, while giving you a chance to de-stress.
- Diet – Certain foods, particularly those high in bad fats, are likely to cause abdominal bloating and cramps. If your tummy is already feeling tender, you should avoid any foods likely to make things worse.
- Magnesium – This mineral has been shown to help reduce muscle cramps. It acts as a muscle relaxant and also lowers the level of prostaglandins, a group of compounds that cause pain.
If your period pain is mild and accompanied by other perimenopause symptoms, start by trying a supplement containing soy isoflavones. This can help with a variety of general perimenopause symptoms.
TIP: MenoSupport Complex contains isoflavones from soy, as well as hibiscus and magnesium. Use it as a general supplement to help you through every stage of menopause.
If your periods are still regular and period pains are your main menopause symptom, give Agnus castus a try. While this is the herb of choice for PMS in younger women, it can also be very useful for women in the early stages of menopause, the phase known as perimenopause.
TIP: Use Vitex Agnus Castus throughout the month, rather than only just before your period. It isn’t a painkiller and needs a little time to get into your system to balance your hormones.
Unless your period pain is severe and interferes with your everyday life, you shouldn’t need to resort to conventional medicines. However, if you’re concerned speak to your doctor to rule out any underlying health conditions, such as endometriosis or cysts.
Generally, your doctor will suggest pain killers or the contraceptive pill. Discuss with your doctor which type of treatment is best for you, as you may find some to be more effective than others.