This Is How To Tell If Your Period Pain Is A Sign Of Something More Serious

Ashley Batz / Bustle

Most people who have a uterus have been dealing with period pain since at least their early teenage years, so it’s easy for some folks to write off extreme pain as part of what comes with having a period. But not all period pain is normal. Sometimes, a painful menstrual cycle can be a sign of serious health complications that shouldn’t be ignored. The medical term for excessively painful menstrual cramps is dysmenorrhea, and it’s most common amongst teenagers and people in their 20s. Dysmenorrhea is often a symptom of underlying issues like uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), but it could be a symptom of many other issues — all of which should be taken seriously.

A lot of the time we try to just soldier through our pain, but depending on the underlying cause, it could be dangerous — not to the mention the fact that you really don't need to be in pain. Women have been socialized to just deal with pain, especially period pain, but if you think about it, that doesn't make much sense. If you had a debilitating pain in your head, wouldn't you see a doctor about it? There is some discomfort is associated with menstrual cycles, but it's time to debunk the idea that any pain (no matter how intense) is "normal."

Your body can tell you when something isn’t right. You just have to make sure you’re paying attention to the warning signs, and for people with periods, that time of the month can be a major indicator of your overall health. These five potential signs of abnormal period pain are only a few of many things that could be causing your period to be painful, so be sure to contact a health professional if you have concerns.


Period Pain Stops You From Completing Daily Tasks

Your period shouldn’t disrupt your life to the point where you’re cancelling meetings or calling out sick. So if you’re regularly missing work or school because of your period, definitely contact your doctor to discuss pain management options. Birth control is a popular option to manage the pain over the longer term. Heating pads and massaging your abdomen can also be helpful in the short term.


Over-The-Counter Meds Don’t Help You At All

Your period pain is not normal if over-the-counter medication (like a pain reliever) doesn't offer any relief. It’s important to not take too much OTC medication, though, even if you feel like the recommended dose isn’t helping.


You Experience Pelvic Pain Throughout Your Cycle

A little bit of pelvic pain right before and during the first days of your period are normal. But if you’re cramping at other times throughout your cycle, it may be a sign of a more serious problem like endometriosis. You may also feel cramping during ovulation when your ovary releases an egg. Normal ovulation cramps shouldn't last longer than a few minutes, but if they do, set up an appointment with your doctor.


You Experience Other Troubling Symptoms During Your Period

Intense period pain coupled with other symptoms, such as spotting between cycles or heavy bleeding, should be taken seriously. This could be a sign of ectopic pregnancy, toxic shock syndrome, acute PID, or even appendicitis. If you’re cramping and vomiting or feeling dizzy, call your doctor immediately.


You’re Worried Your Period Pain Isn’t Normal

At the end of the day, you know your body best, and if you think your period pain is abnormal, that’s a good enough reason to talk to a professional. Don’t wait for something to go wrong before consulting a doctor.

While a little discomfort during your period is normal, extreme pain should be taken seriously. Contacting a doctor tell help you manage period pain doesn't make you weak, and it could potentially save you from dealing with more complications from other medical conditions.