Why are my cramps hurting so bad?

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re probably curled up in the fetal position with a hot water bottle pressed against your uterus wondering why the universe has cursed you with such unbearable cramps. Fear not my friend, for I am here to explain why exactly those cramps are causing such agony.

A Brief Overview of Menstrual Cycles

Before we dive into the mysterious world of menstrual discomfort, let’s recap how menstruation even happens in the first place. The menstrual cycle is a complex sequence of events that occurs over an average period (pun intended) of 28 days. Each cycle is controlled by hormonal fluctuations and aims to prepare the body for pregnancy.

Phase One: The Follicular Phase

The follicular phase kicks off on day one when our uteri decide they don’t need their current lining anymore and begin shedding it along with blood cells through our cervixes and vaginal canals – hence our good friend Aunt Flo coming down for her monthly visit. During this time, hormones start signaling follicles (sacs containing immature eggs) in our ovaries to start growing and competing for dominance.

Phase Two: Ovulation

Once one dominant follicle emerges victorious at around day 14-15, it ruptures and releases a mature egg into the fallopian tube where it awaits sperm inviters from neighboring male reproductive organs who want nothing more than to fertilize said egg so it can implant itself into your uterine lining and grow into an adorable little human being.

Phase Three: Luteal Phase

Instead of puppy-like miniature humans growing within us however, if no sperm penetrates that egg then its partying days come to an end while estrogen levels decrease as another hormone called progesterone takes over trying to thicken up that uterine lining once again just in case any other eggs want to come visit and stay awhile. This is the luteal phase that lasts about two weeks until the whole process starts over again.

What Are Cramps?

Now onto the main event! Cramps are a common side effect of this wonderous cycle – one can only be in awe at how intricate our bodies are. Cramping itself occurs due to prostaglandins, hormone-like substances produced by cells lining the uterus when they start contracting to expel its lining, pushing out blood and tissue through that cervix and vagina we spoke of earlier.

Primary vs Secondary Dysmennorrhea

It’s important to know there’s actually two types of cramps: primary dysmenorrhea which is menstrual pain with no apparent underlying medical condition besides typical hormonal changes; and then secondary dysmenorrhea which may be caused by several different factors like endometriosis or fibroids for example.
If you’re experiencing extremely painful cramps every month or if your symptoms have suddenly started getting worse even though you’ve been menstruating for years now, it might be time to get checked out by an OB-GYN just in case.

Why Do My Cramps Hurt So Badly?

Everyone’s pain tolerances are different but I think we can all agree that some months it feels like those uterine contractions are trying their damnedest best to break free from your body altogether in order live a life independent from you because why not (it very much sucks). Here’s why:

Prostaglandin Overload

Earlier on we mentioned prostaglandins as being responsible for initiating uterine contractions however what makes these prostaglandin -induced pains more intense varies between people. Some women have higher levels of these molecules due genetic factors meaning their cretions reach higher than average levels during periods causing increased contraction frequency leading towards severe pain experience during menstrual cycles.

Hormones Are Unpredictable

Hormonal fluctuations can also tinker with pain levels more than usual for some people. For instance, progesterone is thought to lessen the severity of menstrual symptoms while estrogen on the other hand increases it.

Stress Hormones & Cramping

Cortisol, a stress hormone our bodies produce when under pressure, has been linked to worsened PMS. A 2018 scientific paper posted in The Journal of Women’s Health affirmed “stress-induced cortisol release during the luteal phase or erratic cortisol profiles” could lead cyclical pain problems like dysmenorrhoea (cramps) high intensity and frequency coupled with fatigue and lower back problems.

Wrong Foods In Our Diet

Notice that gory scene from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was less disturbing than your cramps? It’s time to think about what you’ve eating! Food choices make an impact studies have confirmed dark chocolate — rich in magnesium – is great at reducing discomfort caused by periods. On the flip side there are certain diets which might exacerbate cramp pains; these typically include fatty foods so take this as another reason/excuse to stay away from donuts!

Tips on Easing Menstrual Pain

While complete alleviation of menstrual pain may come about temporarily but it’s always good practice employing below techniques can help soothe severe cramp paings:

  1. Local Heat – applying moist heat directly over our uterus eases tension within uterine wall muscles
  2. OTC Medications – taking medication with ibuprofen tablets reduces prostaglandin production which then reduce muscle contractions resulting into relieving period related pain.
  3. Massage therapy – Improves blood flow around contracted muscles reducing menstrual cycle distressess : such as:
    • Lymphatic Drainage Technique
    • Swedish massage
      4.Mindfulness Meditation – Reduces anxiety, distraction, depression and psychological conditions that trigger menstrual distresses.
  4. Ginger Tea – ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory agent thus, lessening inflammation within the uterine wall muscles.

Inconclusive Thoughts

If your period pain continues to be excruciating or debilitating no matter what you try, it might be time to check in with an OB-GYN as we talked about earlier. While being bedridden for 3-7 days every month isn’t fun, know millions of women are going through the same thing – some even worse than us! We feel ya and hope helpful tips discussed help make Aunt Flo’s visit more bearable until she goes back home till next month – cheered!

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