Period pain: normal or not?
If you’re someone who suffers with period pain each month, it can be disheartening and overwhelming to hear, ‘period pain isn’t normal and we’re not supposed to get it’, from someone who’s supposedly ‘in the know’.
Well, what am I doing wrong, you might think. And why do I get it?
As a naturopath, I try to avoid strictly labelling something as ‘normal’ or not. What I do believe, though, is that signs and symptoms are the body’s way of communicating something to us – and that it is our job to listen.
I also believe that recurring signs and symptoms – such as period pain, which may happen every month in a recurring, cyclic way – are worth taking note of.
The body is biologically designed to operate quite flawlessly, and the blessing of physical discomfort – of whatever sort – is that it wakes us up to something that may need to change.
So, while I personally am reluctant to go around announcing to the women of the world that ‘period pain isn’t normal’ – I’ll be right in there with my clients trying to figure out how we can alleviate it.
Because – normal or not, common as it is – I don’t believe it’s something we necessarily have to live with.
And I know for a fact that there are so many things that can be done to help it – I’ve seen it time and time again, with myself and others.
I used to suffer period pain that was bad enough to make me take painkillers, just for the first day, really. And want to lie in bed in the foetal position – if life would afford me the opportunity to do so on that particular day. (Which, let’s face it, it normally doesn’t – so I understand that for so many women, painkillers are the only way of getting through).
But these days, after doing a lot of work on my hormones, I no longer suffer period pain – bar a few very mild cramps, definitely nothing I can’t handle. And, after all, the uterus is contracting to shed it’s own lining – so I almost expect a few twinges. This doesn’t alarm me at all.
BUT – at what point does the severity of period pain become too much?
At what point do we start taking action to create change?
When does period pain become ‘not normal’?
The technical term for ‘period pain’ is dysmenorrhoea, and it is divided into two types:
Primary dysmenorrhoea, and secondary dysmenorrhoea.
Primary dysmenorrhoea, or ‘primary period pain’, is the presence of period pain without the presence of another pelvic / reproductive disease. In other words, it’s not happening as the result of another condition. In a sense, it’s happening ‘on it’s own’, and it can often be resolved through somewhat simple dietary changes, lifestyle changes, and potentially some nutritional and herbal supplementation. It can be relatively ‘easy’ to shift. I’ve seen this for myself and many other women.
Secondary dysmenorrhoea, or ‘secondary period pain’, is the presence of period pain with the presence of another pelvic / reproductive disease. In other words, the period pain is most likely an outcome of that disease (which is often endometriosis). In this case, the more simple changes and treatments may not be as effective, or effective at all. At this point, further investigation most likely needs to be done. The most common pelvic inflammatory disease leading to secondary dysmenorrhoea is endometriosis. The pain is potent, unrelenting, and (can be) much harder to shift (although definitely not impossible!). Here, I am willing to say – this is not normal. This needs to be investigated.
In my personal opinion, period pain that significantly affects one’s life to the point that they can’t function properly for a certain amount of time, every single cycle, really needs to be addressed.
When I was experiencing this from month to month, I took painkillers because I didn’t know any other way to deal with it.
Then I studied naturopathy, and learnt the tips + tricks which I so often share with my clients. This completely changed my experience of my monthly cycle.
While I won’t cover such things in this particular blog, there are SO many solutions when it comes to bringing the hormones back to balance, and reducing inflammation to alleviate period pain.
If you’d like some 1:1 assistance with this, see me or another naturopath / natural health practitioner.
Many women are turned away from doctor’s offices when reporting symptoms of significant pain with their period.
This is not a jab at doctors, as there are many wonderful doctors out there addressing the WHY behind the discomfort that women experience each month.
But if you’ve ever been told that period pain IS normal – to just ‘deal with it’ – and your body is seriously telling you otherwise, seek help elsewhere.
Seek help so that your practitioner can do some investigating to find the roots of your period pain.
Is it primary or secondary in origin? Do tests need to be done? Do you need to be referred to a specialist? Do you need medical investigation into whether there may be something more serious present?
Above all – you know better than ANYONE, what is ‘normal’ or not, for YOUR body.
Pain that stops you from functioning – month after month – is worth questioning.
Consider that, and know that there are many people out there doing wonderful work to HELP women who curse their period every month because of the pain it brings them.
Lastly, I can’t help but continually question:
Is the menstrual cycle – the thing that brings us our babies – really meant to be excruciating?? Are women supposed to suffer immensely every month??
My instincts tell me not.
I invite you to question the same thing – and then, if you feel called to take action for your own reproductive health, do so.
Much love to you –
Naturopath / Women’s Coach
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