The Truth About Period Pain — Don’t ignore this
The science lesson in which we covered human biology focused primarily on puberty - things would change, we were told in a serious voice: hair would grow in new places, breasts would sprout, shoulders would broaden and voices would break. Girls were informed of the menarche - their first menstrual cycle - one of approximately 500 over the course of a lifetime. We were told to expect “some discomfort”, but given no hint that for some this pain would go beyond mild and descend into pretty damn awful.
Period pain is caused by contractions in the uterus. The blood vessels in the muscle wall are compressed by the contractions, which cut off blood supply to the womb, starving it of oxygen and adding to the discomfort.
Dysmenorrhea, as period pain is medically known, generally falls into two camps: secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by a specific underlying condition such as endometriosis (when cells that normally line the uterus are found at other sites in the body - usually the ovaries and fallopian tubes). The more common primary dysmenorrhea, which affects nine out of 10 women, has no specific cause. It is generally worst in the first few years after starting your period, with symptoms tending to improve with age or after childbirth. Yet many women who report having primary dysmenorrhea well into their 20s and 30s say their pain is dismissed.