Painful Periods and Heavy Periods
Pain and heavy bleeding are among the most common of menstrual complaints. These problems can turn your monthly period from a minor hassle into a major, debilitating inconvenience. Menstrual issues such as painful and/or heavy bleeding can range from mild to severe, be sporadic or persistent, and can cause physical and emotional issues that may disrupt your life for days or weeks at a time.
Painful and heavy periods are associated with several common menstrual disorders, including premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), uterine fibroids, and endometriosis. These and other menstrual cycle disorders can cause signs and symptoms such as:
- Heaving bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mood swings
While these disorders are not usually serious, they are often very painful. Fortunately, there are treatment options. These methods range from over-the-counter medications to surgical solutions. Treatment, depending on the cause of your symptoms, is almost always successful in providing relief and transforming that “time of the month” into something much less dreadful.
Painful abdominal cramping that occurs with your menstrual period is called dysmenorrhea.
In many cases of dysmenorrhea, it occurs without any cause other than menstruation. This is called primary dysmenorrhea, meaning it has no primary underlying cause and is just part of the regular menstrual cycle for many women.
In other cases, dysmenorrhea occurs as the result of a specific medical conditions, such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or pelvic inflammatory disease. When other conditions are the cause of painful periods, it is called secondary dysmenorrhea.
Most cases of primary dysmenorrhea can be successfully treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, to help lessen the contractions of the uterus and reduce pain. Treating secondary dysmenorrhea will depend on what is causing your symptoms.
Heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding is a common problem that most women experience at some point in their life. Excessive menstrual bleeding – which requires changing a pad or tampon every couple of hours or periods that last 7 days or longer – is called menorrhagia. It may also involve spotting between periods. Menorrhagia is fairly common, and many women experience this on a monthly basis.
Heavy periods can be caused by a hormonal imbalance, uterine fibroids, IUD use, the side effect of certain medications, and other causes.
Some hormone-based birth control methods can help relieve menstrual symptoms like heavy or painful periods. Iron supplements may be required if you develop anemia as the result of blood loss. If conservative treatment methods are unsuccessful, surgery may be required to treat menorrhagia. This includes procedures such as dilation and curettage (D&C), endometrial ablation, and a hysterectomy.
With the proper support, however, most women can control the symptoms of menorrhagia without the need for surgery.
Heavy, Painful Periods? See the OB-GYN Specialists at Women’s HealthFirst
If you suffer from regular, recurrent abdominal cramps during your period or heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, ask your Women’s HealthFirst OB-GYN provider what type of treatment may help alleviate your symptoms.
Are you an established Women’s HealthFirst patient? Simply contact your provider for more information about what can be done for painful and heavy periods. You can also use our convenient online patient portal to request an appointment, message your provider team, and more.