Why do Periods Hurt? The science behind Menstrual Cramps

Why do Periods Hurt? The science behind Menstrual Cramps

As much as periods are important, they can be very overwhelming. Several factors make periods daunting, including heavy flows, mood swings, food cravings, and worst of all, menstrual cramps. Dealing with menstrual cramps may be the hardest part of a monthly period for most women. But why? Let us understand why menstrual cramps happen in the first place. While we’re at it, we’ll go over ways to ease or prevent these cramps according to research.

Why do Periods Hurt?

The female reproductive system prepares the uterus for fertilization of the egg every month. The walls of the uterus become more strong and elastic for the development of the embryo.

When no fertilization takes place, it disrupts the lining of the walls. This is what causes your period. The uterus contracts itself to shed and expel the lining. Hormones like prostaglandins trigger contractions in the uterine muscles. However, these hormones can cause inflammation and pain. This is the reason why periods are painful for most women. Higher levels of prostaglandins cause severe cramps.

Normal Cramps Vs. Severe Cramps

It is normal to experience cramping to a certain extent during menstruation. These cramps usually feel like a throbbing pain in the lower abdomen. The pain may also reach the lower back and inner thighs. The problem arises when these cramps get severe. Menstrual cramps are severe when they:

·      Don’t improve after taking OTC medications

·      Affect daily routine activities

·      Are accompanied by heavy bleeding or clotting

What causes Severe Menstruation Cramps

The following conditions cause menstruation cramps.

·      Adenomyosis

 This condition occurs when the endometrial tissue lining of the uterus grows on the muscles of the uterus. This further thickens the uterus.  Shedding of the endometrial lining from both the walls and muscle of the uterus will cause more pain than in normal conditions. 

·      Endometriosis

In this condition, the endometrial tissue lining grows outside the uterus—the tissue lining deposits on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or the lining of the pelvis.

·      Uterine Fibroids

 Fibroids occur when there is a noncancerous growth of cells in the wall of the uterus. The size of a cluster of abnormally grown cells from fibroids can range from seed-like structure to large masses. Uterine fibroids cause not only cramps but also heavy bleeding and constipation.

·      Cervical Stenosis

Some women have a small opening of the cervix to allow menstrual flow to expel freely. A narrow or almost closed cervix passage causes pain in the lower abdomen.