Understanding period pain: Causes and symptoms

No, it’s not just in your head – periods can be extremely painful. Here’s what causes period pain and how to tell if your pain is normal or something more serious. 


The medical term for period pain is dysmenorrhea. There are two types of dysmenorrhea – primary and secondary.


There are two types of dysmenorrhea – primary and secondary.

Primary dysmenorrhea refers to pain that happens before and during your period and that is typical for you.


Secondary dysmenorrhea refers to pain that occurs later in life, after a history of mild or pain-free periods. If period pain is unusual for you, it could be related to a condition like endometriosis or uterine fibroids. It's important to consult a medical professional if you start experiencing abnormal or excessive period pain. 


For many women, period pain is worse when they are under 20, and sometimes can disappear altogether after they have a baby. Other factors such as family history, weight, smoking, and reaching puberty before age 11 can play a part in the severity of period pain. 


What causes dysmenorrhea (period pain)?

Everyone experiences menstruation differently, with varying levels of pain and discomfort. Causes can sometimes be hard to pinpoint. However, it’s thought that a hormone called prostaglandin plays a key role. 


Prostaglandin triggers the muscles in your uterus to begin contracting and preparing to release the lining (your period). If you have higher levels of prostaglandin, you may experience more intense or painful uterine contractions compared to women with lower levels. Intense uterine contractions may also put pressure on surrounding organs, increasing pain and discomfort. 


Increased levels of prostaglandin can also trigger other less-than-pleasant period pain symptoms for some women, such as nausea, headaches, or diarrhea. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen, can help to reduce painful inflammation by suppressing prostaglandins. Paracetamol can also help to ease period pain and soothe symptoms. 


Maxigesic combines both paracetamol and ibuprofen to provide fast, effective, double action relief. The paracetamol in Maxigesic helps to reduce pain, while the ibuprofen has an anti-inflammatory effect. 


Other possible causes of painful periods include endometriosis, premenstrual syndrome, fibroids in the uterus, pelvic inflammatory disease, or ovarian cysts. If you are worried about period pain or it’s interfering with your life, please speak to a medical professional to seek out an official diagnosis. 


Periods can be pesky – as can prostaglandin! If you’re worried about your period pain or it’s making it difficult for you to go about your daily life, it’s important to seek medical advice so you can identify the root cause of your pain and treat it effectively. In the meantime, pain relief like Maxigesic can help you feel more comfortable.

Disclamer: This content is for informational purposes only and should not substitute advice from your healthcare professional. If symptoms persist or you require specialist advice, please consult your healthcare professional.