What is normal period pain?

Five days of agony is not normal period pain.

You may have caught the news last week that a British company has decided to introduce “period leave” for it’s female clients. This new policy means that women are given time off to deal with the pain or discomfort they experience during their monthly menses.

To be honest, this revolutionary allowance for women leaves me with some mixed feelings. Yes, it is great that we are finally talking about periods and understanding that these days of the month can be really difficult for women.

On the other hand I think-“well, hang on a minute, why are all these women having such horrible painful periods? Can’t we do more to help them? Maybe we need a bit of education about what normal period pain looks like”

There are many reasons why women have congested, painful periods. Known as dysmenorrhea, it can range from the mild cramping and discomfort to full-blown “I can move from pain and painkillers aren’t touching the sides of this beast exploding in my belly!”

It is important to know why your period is painful, and yes ask yourself “can I do more to reduce this pain apart from necking painkillers all day?”

Why We Have Period Pain:

During our period inflammation markers in the body, called prostaglandins are set alight. This is a normal process that should occur monthly. These prostaglandins start working and cause contractions of the uterine muscles. The higher the levels of prostaglandins the more chance you’ll experience painful periods. Inflammation is a natural process in the body – but it needs to be kept in check so it doesn’t take over. There are plenty of ways you can keep your periods less inflammatory.

Other causes for normal period pain are endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids and cervical stenosis.

There has been a lot of press about endometriosis over the last few months. High profile women such as the actress from the excellent TV Show Girls, Lena Dunham have been discussing their struggle with this debilitating condition.

It is suggested that 1 in 10 women suffer from endometriosis – if you think this is you please speak to your doctor, get a pelvic ultrasound and start the investigative process to reduce the symptoms of this condition. But not every women has endometriosis, some of the key signs are:

  • Intense burning, throbbing cyclic pain before and during your period, lasting for more than 3 days.
  • On-going chronic pelvic pain
  • Ovulation pain
  • Pain when urinating, passing stools or during sexual intercourse
  • Shooting pains down legs and lower back
  • Complications that affect your digestion and urinary systems as well
  • These pains are not relieved by painkillers

So what should your period look like:

The ideal period should come and go without you really noticing it. Too many women think that suffering with period pain is normal. Necking anti-inflammatory medications to be able to function is a regular occurrence. An ideal cycle should be:

  • NO PMS

So when the conversation about allowing women to take time off work to deal with their period pain I worry that all these people are needlessly suffering. As a naturopath, herbalist and nutritionist I see a lot of women in my clinic with painful periods, and through the work we do they see real lasting change in their cycles. Less pain, less discomfort and healthier cycles.

There is so much you can do to naturally reduce heavy, painful, irregular cycles. Please get in touch if you need help. The naturopaths at New Leaf Naturopathic Health are experts in regulating cycles, reducing period inflammation and helping you live a happier and healthier life.

I really like this infographic from Lara Briden as it sums this up really well. If you want to learn more about your period I suggest reading The Period Repair Manual


If this article has made you think about your period please speak with a health professional today to start exploring what can be done to reduce your discomfort and uncover the reason for normal period pain.