Baby Got Back (Pain): Back Pain During Your Period
Have you ever experienced shooting pains or a dull ache in your lower back during your period? Chances are, you’ve experienced lower back pain caused by your period and it’s actually more common than you think!
What causes back pain during your period?
Lower back pain during your period can be caused by an elevated amount of a hormone-like molecule called prostaglandins, which causes the uterus to contract and shed the uterine lining. People who experience stronger or more frequent uterine contractions might experience lower abdominal cramping in addition to back pain.
Is it back pain or something more?
Lower back pain is quite common and isn’t normally a cause for concern, but a number of underlying conditions can cause lower back pain. If you have concerns, talking to your doctor is a great first step to finding a solution that works for you:
If you experience back pain as well as severe fatigue, headaches, fainting, nausea, or leg pain during your period, you may have a condition called dysmenorrhea, a term used to describe extremely painful periods. Treatment might include over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen, and in more extreme cases, providers may prescribe birth control as a way to regulate your period and reduce its severity. The “period” that you experience while taking the pill– called withdrawal bleeding– is much lighter than a normal period, and the symptoms are generally not as severe.
Endometriosis is a condition that affects anywhere from 2 to 10% of people with ovaries aged 18-40 years old. It is a condition in which tissue that is similar to endometrial tissue grows outside of the endometrium (aka the uterine lining). As the body prepares to shed the endometrial lining, the tissue growing outside of the uterus also begins to do the same. This is extremely painful, as the tissue that is being broken down has no way to exit the body.
Depending on where the endometrial-like tissue grows, symptoms can include lower back pain and painful cramps, painful intercourse, painful urination and bowel movements during periods, and abnormal or heavy menstrual flow.
Endometriosis pain is not considered “normal” pain during your period. If these symptoms seem familiar, it’s worth discussing with your doctor. Your doctor might request a pelvic exam, ultrasound, MRI, or even a laparoscopy to correctly diagnose the condition.
During a pelvic exam, the doctor will physically feel for cysts on the uterine lining. In an ultrasound, the technician will capture images of the uterus and endometrium that will show the presence of cysts. Finally, in a laparoscopy, a surgeon will place you under anesthesia and insert a transvaginal camera to look inside the uterus. This is also extremely effective in determining the exact placement of the cyst or endometrial-tissue build up and is more commonly requested in cases where endometriosis is confirmed already.
What you can do at home to treat lower back pain:
Lower back pain is common, and there are many effective ways to treat it at home.
- Heat is your best friend! A hot water pack over your back or your lower abdomen will provide pain relief by relaxing the muscles of the uterus and increasing blood flow.
- Ginger tea or anything with ginger in it! Historically, ginger has been used for mainy anti-inflammatory and pain relieving purposes! Ginger contains an enzyme called zingibain which helps reduce the production of prostaglandins - the hormone-like molecule that causes cramping in the first place. (Fun fact: ginger also contains properties that help de-bloat, relieve gas, and improve bowel movements, which can also come in handy during your period!)
- Avoiding caffeine! For some, caffeine can cause muscle tension and worsen back pain. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, try to limit your intake during your period to avoid potentially worsening cramps and back pain!
- The Aavia app! Aavia allows you to track your pain over the course of your cycle, and can be a useful tool to bring to your doctor to help them understand any trends and patterns.
- Over-the-counter pain medications can provide relief from back pain for many. Your doctor may offer a more rigorous course of treatment if you are not finding relief from these at-home remedies.
Have you tried any of these tips? Let us know in the comments!