Endometriosis is a common condition that causes severe period pain. Nearly 10% of reproductive age women globally are estimated to have endometriosis, which is a common cause of infertility during childbearing years, but symptoms can also persist after menopause.
Common Period Symptoms
Women can experience a wide variety of symptoms each month associated with their menstrual cycle. Common symptoms include minor discomfort, cramping, spotting or mood changes.
Normal period symptoms do not interfere with daily activities. The use of over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help lessen the common period symptoms.
Abnormal Period Symptoms
Severe period pain is not normal. “Patients with abnormal period pain often report that their symptoms interfere with their daily activities. Women mistakenly believe that the pain is normal. I urge all women who experience extreme period pain to meet with their doctor for help,” said Dr. Anne Porter, obstetrician and gynecologist with University Health and assistant professor with UT Health San Antonio.
There are various treatments available to help minimize painful period symptoms. Women are encouraged to keep a journal of their experiences to share with their doctor.
Warning Signs of Endometriosis
Endometriosis occurs when the tissue normally only found in the uterus grows outside of the uterus. Each person is different and may experience a variety of symptoms, but people experiencing the following warning signs may have endometriosis:
- Excessive period cramping
- Heavy period flow
- Bleeding between periods
- Pain during or after intercourse
- Nausea or diarrhea during periods
“While these symptoms may be a sign of endometriosis, they could also be caused by other conditions,” Dr. Porter said. “It is important for women to share their concerns with their doctor for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.”
Period Pain Management
Using a heating pad on the abdomen or lower back can help relieve severe period pain. Exercise and eating a healthy diet can also contribute to less pain. Dr. Porter also recommends that patients talk to others with similar experiences. She said many patients find support groups very helpful when experiencing a condition that causes chronic pain.
Women’s Health Care at University Health
The providers at University Health are committed to caring for the unique needs of women, including painful periods or other menstrual concerns. Learn about women’s health on our website.