Menstruation is a natural part of a woman’s life. Like it or not, this is the utmost sign that your body is healthy and that you can have children.
It may be uncomfortable, and sometimes it may be downright painful. But in the end, it is something women accept as it is and live with it.
Menstrual cramps can get very annoying and, at times, they can be quite severe. However, you should know that, in most of the cases, they are normal. Although only 15% of the ladies out there claim that their cramps are severe, the truth is that even when they are “just” mild, they can still be painful and hard to deal with.
In addition to the pain felt in the lower belly, many women experience other symptoms as well. Pain in the lower back and sometimes even in the hip area, vomiting, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, loose stools, constipation, weakness and bloating are all symptoms typical of menstruation.
While some ladies experience them 1 or 2 days before the actual menstruation occurs, other ladies experience them during the first days of menstruation or even both before and after it.
Why do you get menstrual cramps, though? What is it in a woman’s body that causes this pain?
Why Women Get Menstruation
To understand exactly how it is that you are feeling in pain when your menstruation occurs, you should first start by understanding very precisely how your body works and why menstruation occurs in the first place.
When women reach the age of puberty their hormones start sending signals to the body according to which it will “generate” the first menstruation. The first day of menstruation is also the first day of the menstruation cycle. Usually, one cycle lasts for about 28 days, but do not worry if the time between the first day of one menstruation and the first day of the following one is longer than 28 days – generally speaking, variations in between 21 and 35 days are normal. Also, do not worry if your menstruation cycle is not fully regular – for some women, it takes many years to regulate as well.
This cycle is split into 4 main phases. The first one is actually the end of the last one, so the fact that you have had your first menstruation means that your body has already gone through a cycle and that it is ready to get pregnant and bear children (or at least it is so at a physiological level).
The first part of the menstruation cycle is the actual menstruation itself and it means that the body is eliminating the lining it has built around the uterus walls to prepare for pregnancy. During the second phase, this lining will start to thicken again.
The third phase is the most fertile phase and it is now when you stand most chances to become pregnant (somewhere around day 14 for a 28-day cycle being the absolute peak of the fertile period – but do bear in mind that this may differ a lot from one woman to another and that you can get pregnant in any of the other phases of the menstrual cycle as well).
During the 4th phase, the ovule released in the 3rd phase will start travelling down the Fallopian tubes and the lining created on the uterus’ walls will thicken even more. The fourth phase brings you back to point 0 and it ends with the first day of the menstruation, when the blood lining is eliminated together with many other residues (so not everything you eliminate during the menstruation will be 100% blood).
Why the Cramps, Then?
If everything is as easy as 1-2-3-4, why is it that women get menstrual cramps even when everything is normal? After all, the digestive system works in phases as well and it will not give you cramps – unless there is something wrong, right?
Yes, right. But when the lining built by the uterus falls down off it, it will do so because the uterus contracts itself – which is actually why menstrual cramps appear. Again, some women feel this in the lower abdominal area, other women feel it in the lower back area and for some women the pain goes as far as their legs.
The other symptoms related to menstruation are connected both to menstrual cramps and to other things that happen to the woman’s body when menstruating. For instance, bloating occurs as a result of water retention (and this is why you may feel your breasts bigger and more sensitive as well).
Furthermore, headaches may occur as a result of the effort your body has to put in making sure that the “leftovers” are properly eliminated. Even more than that, hormones can play an important role.
Can You Alleviate Them in Any Way?
Yes, menstrual cramps are treatable. Most of the women take over the counter pain killers and other pills that help them alleviate the pain. Depending on the degree of intensity, you may need stronger pills or not.
Also, massages, heated pads, warm baths, Yoga, stretching a bit, aromatherapy, acupuncture and meditation can help. Sometimes, even relaxing for a bit or listening to soothing music can help. Each woman is different and you may react differently to the various treatments out there, but try to find something that works for you and apply it when the pain gets too much to handle.
In some cases, the physician may recommend taking hormone-based birth control pills. Most of the people out there believe that these are not safe to be taken, but most of the professionals in the field do not have any arguments against not taking them either.
As long as you follow the instructions and as long as you don’t take them for many months consecutively, things should get better. If you don’t feel comfortable with the idea of taking contraceptives though or if you actually want to get pregnant then this solution is obviously not a good one for you though.