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Period Pain

Period Pain

Women of child-bearing age and who are not pregnant, menstruate. In other words, they bleed from their vaginas roughly once a month. This natural process is also known as having a period. Menstruation is the process through which a woman’s body, which has prepared itself for pregnancy, gets rid of – sheds – the lining of the womb. For some women, this can be painful.


What causes period pain?

When women menstruate, the muscular wall of the uterus tightens or contracts to expel the lining that has built up. The womb contracts all the time, but usually these contractions are so mild that most women rarely feel them. However, during a period, they are stronger. The contractions compress the blood vessels lining the womb, which temporarily stops blood and oxygen from getting to the uterus. It’s this lack of oxygen that releases chemicals that trigger pain.

At the same time, a woman’s body produces prostaglandins, which are hormones that encourage the womb to contract even more, which can cause more pain. Some women experience more pain than others, and in some cases, there is no obvious reason for this pain.1

Primary and secondary period pain

Painful periods are also known as dysmenorrhea and there are two types:2

  • primary dysmenorrhea which begins when the young girl starts having periods.
  • secondary dysmenorrhea which begins a while after the woman has started having regular periods.


What causes painful periods or dysmenorrhea?

There are some factors that indicate potentially a higher risk for having painful periods. Some of these include:3

  • a family history where the women suffer from painful periods
  • puberty before a girl is 11 years old
  • being under 20 years old
  • having heavy bleeding and/or irregular periods
  • never having been pregnant or had a baby
  • you are overweight or obese
  • smoking

What medical conditions could cause painful periods?

  • Premenstrual syndrome, also known as PMS, is relatively common. About a week or so prior to the start of a period, there are hormonal changes in the body which cause PMS. Symptoms can include, among other things, mood swings, feeling bloated and tender breasts. These usually disappear a day or so after the period begins.4
  • Endometriosis is a painful condition where cells from the lining of the womb grow outside it, and in other parts of the body, like the fallopian tubes, ovaries or the tissue that line the pelvis.
  • Fibroids often don’t cause symptoms and are noncancerous tumours that can grow in the uterus. They can cause pressure in the womb and severe period pain.
  • Adenomyosis is a rare condition: the lining of the womb grows into the muscle wall of the uterus. This can cause longer and heavier periods in addition to inflammation, pressure and pain.5


Treating Period Pain

There are a number of options for treating the pain of menstrual cramps, ranging from pharmaceutical to simple home remedies and dietary or lifestyle changes.

Pills for period pain

If your period pain is so bad, that none of the other remedies below, help, you can take ibuprofen, paracetamol or aspirin to relieve the pain. However, do not give aspirin to a girl who is younger than 16 years old.

For women who choose paracetamol to treat their period pain, Cipladon 1000 is an effervescent tablet that you dissolve in water. This means that the body absorbs it more quickly. Studies have shown that effervescent paracetamol works twice as quickly as ordinary paracetamol tablets.6 Cipladon 1000, therefore, offers faster and more effective relief from period pain.

However, if period pain persists and over the counter tablets do not help, please consult a doctor.

In severe cases of dysmenorrhea, your doctor might prescribe the pill. Contraceptives including the implant or injection can help to reduce period pain because they reduce the amount of prostaglandin that your body releases which thins the lining of the uterus.7

Home and non-medical help for period pain

Women have used some simple and effective ways to relieve period pain, for centuries. For example –

  • Lying on your back, and raising your legs to a 90° angle, resting them against a wall, or lying on your side, with your knees bent (foetal position)
  • Doing relaxing activities, such as yoga or pilates and/or gentle exercise like swimming, walking or cycling
  • Placing a hot water bottle on your stomach or lower back – even in the hottest of weather – can also help to reduce pain


Lifestyle changes and supplements

As with many things, diet and lifestyle can affect your health – and how you experience your period. Foods and/or supplements rich in the B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and magnesium may be helpful.
If you suffer from bloating associated with your period, try to eat less salt and sugar; drink less alcohol and caffeine. If you’re a smoker, try to stop smoking it could increase the risk of period pain.8

Disclaimer: The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.


  1. Period Pain.  National Health Service, UK [online] Available from <> 26/04/2022
  2. What is Primary Dysmenorrhea & What is Secondary Dysmenorrhea: Painful Periods. [online] Available at: <> (01/12/2020).
  3. Menstrual Pain. Neha Pathak. WebMD [Online] Available from: <> 26/08/2020
  4. PMS, Cramps, and Irregular Periods.  Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital [Online] Available from:  <>  27/04/2022
  5. What are some causes of secondary dysmenorrhea?. Painful Periods. [online] Available at: <>  (01/12/2020).
  6. Absorption of effervescent paracetamol tablets relative to ordinary paracetamol tablets in healthy volunteer.  Rygnestad, T. et al. s. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 56, 141–143 (2000). [Online] Available from <>  26/04/2022
  7. Period Pain.  National Health Service, UK [online] Available from <> 26/04/2022
  8. 25 Ways to Relieve Menstrual Cramps. Reviewed by M Conrad Stöppler, 2022.  On Health a division of WebMD [Online] Available from: <> 27/04/2022


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Please note the content on this website is not intended to be a substitute to a medical professional consultation.