Managing Menstrual Cramps

For many women, menstrual cramps are part of life. Whether pain levels are low, reasonable, or excruciating, they do still affect daily routines. Some women have gynaecological conditions that exacerbate menstrual pain; others may have dysmenorrhoea. Women with dysmenorrhoea experience painful periods, often without an identifiable cause for the elevated pain levels. Regardless of pain levels, there are great ways to manage menstrual cramps and improve your quality of life during your period.

How Pain Affects Us

While some women will experience mild to medium pain during the first days of their period, others may have excruciating or chronic pain for prolonged periods. Either way, the pain can have a ripple effect on one’s overall health. Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms to accompany pain, and when fatigued for extended periods of time, one’s quality of life decreases, and so does mental health. Other symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness, and headaches, may accompany the pain, but managing the pain can often help ease these symptoms.

Potential Causes of Very Painful Periods

Though dysmenorrhoea may cause intense period pain, there are various other potential causes. While some of these conditions are more serious than others, women who experience extreme menstrual pain or chronic abdominal pain need to discuss it with their doctor. A good doctor will listen to your concerns, work towards a diagnosis, and begin a treatment plan.

For women with less severe conditions, treatment options may range from home remedies and lifestyle changes, to over-the-counter pain medication or hormone-based medication. In instances with a more severe gynaecological condition, it is critical to address it and find a treatment that will prevent it from progressing and resulting in long-term complications.

Some of the most common gynaecological conditions associated with excessive menstrual pain are:

How to Manage Menstrual Cramps

There are various tried and tested pain management methods which are helpful for many women. Those who prefer not to take pain medication or don’t find enough relief from pain medication can try these methods.

Drink Water

While water won’t directly ease cramps, it can help reduce bloating, which often exacerbates the pain.

Ensure Adequate Sleep

Insufficient sleep makes it more difficult for the body to respond appropriately to any inflammation linked to the pain.

Watch What You Eat

Reduce the intake of salty, sugary, and processed food and replace them with vegetables and healthy fats. Avoid foods which may result in bloating or constipation.

Get Moving

Exercise can be challenging when in pain, so choose the activity based on what is manageable. Yoga and Pilates tend to be slowand focus on breathing, which helps ease cramps and reduce stress.

Use Heating Pads

Heat helps to relax and soothe muscles, so try holding a heating pad to the lower abdomen or taking a hot bath to relievemenstrual cramps.

Managing menstrual cramps may take more than these home remedies for some women. If you are experiencing menstrual pain so intense that these methods are unhelpful, or if you feel your pain levels are excessive, don’t hesitate to see a gynaecologist to identify the cause and explore solutions.

If your menstrual cramps have a negative impact on your quality of life, we suggest arranging a deep endometriosis ultrasound.

OMNI Ultrasound & Gynaecological Care

Condous performs Advanced Endosurgery procedures for women needing intervention for pelvic masses, adnexal pathology, severe endometriosis or hysterectomy. He also runs ‘Hands on’ Live Sheep Laparoscopic Workshops for gynaecologists at Camden Veterinarian School.
Having completed an undergraduate degree with the University of Adelaide, he left Australia in 1993 and moved to London where he completed his training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. From 2001 to 2003 Condous worked as a Senior Research Fellow at St George’s Hospital, London. At St George’s he set up the Acute Gynaecology Unit, the first in the United Kingdom. It was also during this time that he developed an interest in Early Pregnancy and especially the management of pregnancies of unknown location (PULs). Condous has developed many mathematical models for the prediction of outcome of PULs which have been featured in numerous peer review journals. In 2005, he returned to Australia where he completed his Laparoscopic Fellowship at the Centre for Advanced Reproductive Endosurgery, Royal North Shore, Sydney.

Condous was appointed as a Consultant Gynaecologist and Senior Lecturer at Nepean Hospital in 2006 and soon was made Associate Professor. In 2010, he was made Departmental Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Nepean Hospital. He obtained the MRCOG in 1999 and was made FRANZCOG in 2005. In 2009, he was awarded his Doctorate in Medicine (MD), University of London, for his thesis entitled: “The management of pregnancies of unknown location and the development of new mathematical models to predict outcome”.

Condous has edited three books including the “Handbook of Early Pregnancy Care”, published over 100 papers in international journals and is internationally renowned for his work in Early Pregnancy. He is the Associate Editor for Gynaecologic Obstetric Investigation, which is a European based journal, as well as the Australasian Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine (AJUM). He is on the organising committee and is an invited speaker at the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ISUOG) Scientific meeting in Sydney 2013. His current research interests relate to the management of ectopic pregnancy, 1st trimester growth, PULs and miscarriage and the use of transvaginal ultrasound (in particular sonovaginography, to predict posterior compartment deep infiltrating rectovaginal endometriosis).Condous is also actively involved with post-graduate education including the annual running of the Early Pregnancy and Gynaecological Ultrasound Interactive Courses for Sonologists, Radiologists, Sonographers and Gynaecologists in Australia.