How do you manage your period pain?
For most women, popping a few painkillers during their monthly period is a normal “necessity” in order to get through the week. In fact, you may have had to do this for so many years now that you even know the specific cocktail that works best for you— two paracetamol with two ibuprofen perhaps?!
For others, the pain is a little more severe and may require something stronger prescribed by the doctor.
Women don’t have time to be slowed down by period pain. In fact, watching any advertisement for sanitary items would leave you thinking this would be a weakness to slow down from your daily tasks. One sanitary company even states in their advertisements to “let nothing hold you back”!
So even on a subconscious level by the companies that “get women”, we’re told we need to keep going despite the discomfort you may be in. So you take whatever helps alleviate the pain and get you through the day.
With over 80% of women suffering some form of menstrual irregularity or concern (womenshealth.gov), it’s no wonder there has been an increase in the use of the pill, IUD (intrauterine devices) or the implanon. Each is prescribed by a GP for irregular periods, painful periods, to help manage severe acne, or simply for birth control.
Painful periods can be an indication of a hormone imbalance. When not addressed, a long term imbalance can begin to manifest into much bigger (and more painful) complications. Endometriosis, PCOS, cysts, fibroids and even uterine cancer, to name just a few. So learning to listen to your pain is important, rather than ignoring it.
In this article I’m going to discuss why each of these ‘quick fix solutions’ are actually detrimental to your health, and why some are even proving to be serious health concerns.
The problem with painkillers.
Whilst painkillers may be a necessity to help you manage the period pain and discomfort you currently experience, simply popping pills is not solving the underlying problem.
Our bodies are constantly communicating with us, and pain is an indication that something is not right. Whilst some cramping during your period is normal, period pain should not be crippling, nor severe. Taking a cocktail of painkillers simply masks the problem so you can forget about it for the time being, however the underlying cause is continuing to fester.
If you are someone that regularly takes painkillers, have you noticed the need to increase your dose? Painkillers don’t actually reduce the physical cause of the pain, they simply block the pain receptors in the brain so you no longer feel it. If you rely on painkillers regularly, the body (and brain chemistry) adjusts to this dose and you may no longer find it effective.
Many women will find they need to increase their dose to continue to take the edge off the pain, however this begins to put an added load on the liver, the kidneys and the digestive system— the organs involved in metabolising and detoxing the body from these artificial substances.
An overdose of paracetamol, a common over the counter drug, is one of the leading causes of liver toxicity and even liver failure.
The problem with IUDs, the pill and implanon
Studies have recently revealed the scary link between the pill, IUDs and the implanon with depression and other mental disturbances. For sometime, women have spoken of not “feeling themselves” whilst on these hormone therapies, however science is only now revealing just how detrimental they can be to our health.
On a bio-chemical level these therapies release synthetic hormones into the body to regulate the cycle and reduce pain severity. However the body is unable to metabolise these synthetic hormones adequately, so they become stored in the body and begin to contribute to the underlying problem of a hormone imbalance. As these chemicals build up in the body, they begin to affect the brain chemistry and many women may begin to experience symptoms of fatigue, depression, fogginess, and mental instability. More alarming physical concerns can include increased chance of stroke, liver tumours, decreased bone density, yeast overgrowth, infertility, migraines, risk of cervical cancer and breast cancer.
Whilst on these “therapies”, the body isn’t given the opportunity to correct the hormone imbalance naturally. When you decide to go off these therapies, the problem remains, or worse!
Many women notice a delay in getting their cycle back to normality of up to a year or even longer, and most women will notice a return of their symptoms that lead them to take the hormone therapy in the first place.
What’s A Girl To Do?
So what do we do? Are we as women just destined to suffer pain and discomfort for the most of our childbearing years?
No, not at all! The pain that women experience during their monthly period is a very real thing and taking pain killers may be a necessity to help you manage your day. These ‘quick fix solutions’ provide short term relief, however, learning to understand your body and how it is communicating with you is the first step in correcting the underlying problem.
If you currently suffer extreme pain and discomfort during your period, I strongly advise meeting with your doctor to rule out any further complications already discussed here. Even if you are diagnosed with a more severe case of a hormone imbalance in the form of endometriosis (for example), there are still numerous ways in which you can address the root cause of the problem naturally.
Working holistically with your body, making changes to your diet, lifestyle, the way you manage stress, sleep patterns and even the type of exercise you do can all significantly help to correct the body’s natural cycles and reduce the need for these ‘quick fix solutions’.
Once the body is capable of operating correctly and releasing the right hormones at the right time and in the right amount, there is very little need for painkillers, or hot water-bottles, or even sick days.
Periods, and period pain can be easy to manage when you know how.
If you’re interested in finding resources to help you naturally on this journey to better health, I offer private one-on one consultation. Please reach out to me directly for further discussion of your unique needs (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dr Alison Howes
PhD Applied Science | Registered Yoga Australia Teacher
Trauma Release Qualified
Level 1 Shaman
Specialising in Women’s Health