If your period pain has ever made you lie to your boss, you’re not alone. Recently, an Australian study found that 77% of women surveyed admitted menstrual difficulties affected their work. Only over a third honestly admitted the reason to their bosses, while 43% fibbed, using some other excuse. Almost a quarter of those surveyed stoically worked through the discomfort which ranged anywhere from mild to excruciating.
Almost every woman has suffered from menstrual cramps or heavy bleeding at least once since her first period. For many, a simple over the counter pain reliever, heat applications, or a soothing hot bath can alleviate the discomfort, but for others this can be a debilitating experience month after month, often interfering with enjoyment of daily living.
Our professionals at Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists encounter this problem on such a frequent, regular basis that our skills are honed to immediately recognize the symptoms and provide help. We know the physical limitations and psychological impact chronic pelvic pain and heavy bleeding have on your life. Our physicians take menstrual pain very seriously and are very aware of the limitations it may put on you if you suffer from its distressing effects.
Menstrual pain is different from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in that PMS usually occurs within 7 to 14 days before actual menses. Symptoms associated with PMS are bloating, irritability, weight gain, and fatigue, whereas menstrual pain occurs during your period.
Symptoms include cramping and a throbbing dull ache or pressure low in your abdomen. It can radiate to your lower back, hips and inner thighs. Other more extreme symptoms may be nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. It can be annoying, but tolerable for -or so severe that it limits functionality.
Different Types of Menstrual Pain
Menstrual pain is called dysmenorrhea, and there are two types –primary and secondary.
Most women suffer from primary dysmenorrhea, which is usually linked directly to menstruation itself without any other underlying conditions. Contractions of the uterus push against neighboring blood vessels, briefly cutting off blood supply to the uterine tissue, thus resulting in menstrual pain. It generally lasts 2 to 4 days.
Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by a medical disorder of your reproductive system which may require testing to identify the source. It is typically treated with either medication or surgery. Some causes may include conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), fibroids, adenomyosis, cervical stenosis, or endometriosis. There can also be diarrhea, nausea, fatigue or vomiting. Accompanying pain lasts longer and begins earlier than primary dysmenorrhea.
Another menstrual disorder that can lessen the quality of life, interfere with regular activities, and is often cause to call into work to take the day off, is heavy bleeding or menorrhagia. It affects a whopping 10 million American women and is one of the complaints gynecologists hear most often. This excessive bleeding can last longer than a full week. Sanitary napkins or tampons need changing every hour or two and, often, throughout the night. There can be leakage, even with precautionary double padding. Some women with severe menorrhagia can pass large, quarter-sized clots. This condition can cause serious anemia if left untreated for too long.
Causes of menorrhagia can include:
- Hormonal disturbances or imbalances
- Dysfunction of the ovaries
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Bleeding diseases-hereditary or other
- Thyroid disorders
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Ovarian cancer
- Cervical stenosis
- Kidney disease
- Cancer of the ovaries
- Liver disease
- Cervical cancer
If you suffer from menstrual pain that is not relieved by over the counter medicine, rest, heat application, or soothing hot baths- or if experience heavier than normal bleeding, you should seek the advice of an accredited practitioner familiar with women’s reproductive wellness, especially if your discomfort interferes drastically with day to day life.
At Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists we are familiar with every aspect regarding a woman’s exclusive health issues. Doubly accredited Drs. Haley, Gandhi and Litrel, our urogynecologists, hold certification in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS) and OB-GYN. They were among the first to receive this special recognition by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) in recognition of their ability, proficiency, and training. This qualifies them to diagnose and treat any and all disorders pertaining to your feminine health. Furthermore, they are three of only a limited number of doubly accredited physicians in private practice in Atlanta.
When you choose our facility for your care, your first consultation will probably consist of in-depth questions in order to determine what your possible complications might be. A pelvic examination may reveal the problem immediately. If not, our state-of-the-art facility and our close affiliation with Northside Hospital Cherokee, with access to all its amenities, enables us to perform all additional testing necessary such as:
Laparoscopy: A tiny fibro-optic telescope can be inserted through a minuscule incision to examine internal reproductive organs, and take a small sample of tissue for biopsy.
Hysteroscopy: A fibro optic telescope is introduced into the womb via the vagina to look for any abnormalities.
Urine and blood tests: These pinpoint and accurately identify any medical disorders or diseases
Pelvic ultrasound study: This detects physical irregularities painlessly via high-frequency sound waves.
Pap smear: A quick swab rules out any cancer, infection, dysplasia or inflammation.
Sonohysterogram: After the uterus is infused with fluid, ultrasound is used to find any anomalies.
Dilation and curettage: Though this is usually a treatment, it can also be used to pinpoint any physical abnormalities.
Normally, invasive intervention is unnecessary. We do our best to avoid any treatment that makes you more uncomfortable. We analyze results carefully, taking in all factors such as your age, general health, weight, etc., and use our combined expertise and decades of accumulated knowledge to decide on the most effective management for your dysmenorrhea or menorrhagia.
Treatment Options for Severe Period Pain and Heavy Bleeding
The first option we look into is oral hormonal or non-hormonal therapy such as contraception, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), or other medications that can reduce bleeding and pain. If you suffer from anemia as a result of your condition, folic acid or iron supplements might be prescribed. In some cases, a hormonal intrauterine device (IUD), patch, vaginal ring or injections can be helpful.
Should you require a surgical alternative to alleviate your pain or bleeding, our FPMRS, OB-GYN specialists have the most current medical knowledge to do everything possible to treat your individual problem.
Severe period pain and heavy bleeding do not have to keep you from living the life you want. With the proper help, you can get better and no longer have a reason to lie to your boss.
If period pain or prolonged, heavy bleeding is interfering with your life, call today to schedule an appointment at 770.720.7733.