A whopping 70–90% of reproductive age women in Australia are estimated to have experienced period pain.
Yet it has only been examined in Australian women in a small number of studies (we can thank the research gap for that).
What is period pain (dysmenorrhea)?
Period pain occurs when the muscles of the uterus (womb) contract or tighten. The pain often feels like cramping or a heaviness in the pelvic area, lower back or stomach. Dysmenorrhea can be categorised as either primary or secondary.
Primary dysmenorrhea: Refers to recurrent period pain with no obvious cause.
Secondary dysmenorrhoea: Refers to period pain caused by certain reproductive disorders, such as adenomyosis, endometriosis or fibroids.
It typically starts when your period begins or even earlier, with the first 24 hours usually being the most painful. How painful? Well, for some patients...
Dysmenorrhea is equal to the pain of a heart attack, meaning women and people who menstruate experience pain equivalent to a heart attack every 21-35 days.
What other symptoms can you experience in relation to period pain?
On top of the period pain itself, you may also experience the following symptoms: