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Salt Lake City, UT — (ReleaseWire) — 04/19/2022 — Menstrual cramps are common for women who experience periods. Sometimes, the range of normal discomfort may interfere with daily life, and leave some wondering if or when they should see a provider, or if what they are experiencing is normal.
Leah Moses, a certified nurse midwife with Intermountain Healthcare, offers suggestions on navigating through the pesky aches that menstrual cramps can bring, what they could mean, and ways to manage them.
About menstrual cramps
"Menstrual cramps are also referred to as dysmenorrhea," said Moses. She said this can include pain in the hips, lower back, inner thighs, and abdomen. Abdominal pain may also be accompanied by pressure and even loose stools, an upset stomach, nausea, headaches, as well as vomiting in severe cases.
During a period, the uterus sheds its lining. Hormones released during this time can sometimes cause pain and inflammation, also causing cramps.
Although most menstrual cramps are manageable, some common conditions may cause normal menstruation cramps to become more painful. These include pelvic inflammatory diseases, uterine fibroids, polyscystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and endometriosis.
Period pain without an underlying cause tends to improve with age, and sometimes menstrual cramps improve after a woman has had children.
For those who are dealing with the discomfort that menstrual cramps can bring, there are various types of home remedies that may help alleviate pain, including:
– Exercise, stretching, or sexual intercourse
– Heating pad, hot compress or warm baths
– Over-the-counter pain relievers (Motrin, Tylenol)
– Consider Midol and Pamprin for bloating and muscle aches
– Acupuncture or chiropractic adjustments
– Herbal teas
– Natural supplements such as magnesium, fish oil, vitamin B1 and B6
– Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and stress
"If women experience other underlying health conditions, it's important to check with their providers to know which medication may be best. Following the dosage directions on the label of over-the-counter medication is also important," said Moses.
When to see a provider
"If full doses of over-the-counter medicine is needed more than a few times a day for several days in a row, then women should see their provider to review their symptoms," added Moses.
Another reason to see a provider is to discuss birth control options. Birth control can be an option to help alleviate normal to severe cramps and may be pursued when home remedies don't relieve the pain. These methods may include an intrauterine device (IUD), an implant, or birth control pills. Most women don't have to wait until things get severe to consider using birth control as an option to reduce menstrual pain.
"Consider seeing your provider when your menstrual cramps are unusual or severe, or if your monthly flow lasts much longer or is much heavier than usual. Painful period cramping can be treatable," said Moses.
It's important to seek immediate care if cramping becomes dramatically worse such as severe abdominal pain that isn't going away, or menstrual flow is filling a regular sanitary pad in as fast as one hour.
Additionally, pelvic and physical exams may be performed to help identify abnormalities or infections of the reproductive areas. Often, an ultrasound or other imaging will be needed to know more.
Sometimes women don't realize they may be experiencing cycle or menstrual cramp irregularities until discussing their symptoms. Find out what is physically normal by discussing symptoms and concerns with a women's healthcare provider at an annual exam.
For more information or to find a provider, visit https://intermountainhealthcare.org/services/womens-health/
About Intermountain Healthcare
Based in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,800 employed physicians and advanced practice providers, a health plans division with more than one million members called SelectHealth, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information about Intermountain, visit intermountainhealthcare.org. For helpful advice for expectant moms and new parents, see Intermountain Moms online or follow us on www.facebook.com/intermountainmoms, www.instagram.com/intermountainmoms, or https://twitter.com/IntermtnMoms.
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Email: Click to Email Holly Nelson
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