When is period pain NOT normal?

Cramps are a part of life for the majority of people with ovaries–it’s something that 80% experience throughout their lifetime. It’s not a fun part of having a period, but most people are able to go to work and school, exercise, and have a social life even when they have cramps. 

But for some people (including many Aavia members!), cramps are keeping them in bed for days every month, particularly the week before and during your period. When are cramps severe enough to warrant a call to your doctor? 

Let’s dive in!

What causes period pain?

During your period, your body releases hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which contract the uterus and help shed your uterine lining. This lining is the blood and tissue that you see during your period!

Researchers have found that severe period pain– a condition called dysmenorrhea– happens when your body produces too many prostaglandins. Prostaglandin levels increase at the end of the luteal phase, just before your period, which is why many people experience painful cramps just before your period as well.

Many conditions can also cause severe period pain, like:

  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

These conditions are severe and can seriously affect your quality of life! A doctor can diagnose and treat these conditions, which can make it easier for you to go to work and school, and socialize!

When are period cramps not normal?

Some period cramps are a normal, expected part of having a period, but period pain that is so bad that you find that you are missing out on your life ISN’T normal.

If you find yourself regularly missing work and school or feel bad that you are having to miss out on fun activities and time with friends and family because of your cramps, you might be experiencing abnormal period pain. 

“Some of my patients come into my practice and tell me that they are missing 2 or 3 days of school a month because of period cramps, and I’m the first person to tell them that’s not normal!” says Dr. Uma Lerner, Aavia’s Medical Advisor.

Talking to your doctor is the first step to feeling better. Together, you and your doctor can develop a plan to start feeling better, fast.

How should I prepare for my doctor’s appointment?

We know that it can be hard to advocate for yourself to your doctor, so preparing for your appointment can help you feel more confident, and help your doctor come up with the right treatment plan for you. Remember, it’s their job to help you feel better!

Dr. Uma tells her patients to bring a few months of tracking data to their appointments to see if there is a connection between their symptoms and their cycle. This helps her determine if there are any patterns– do you only get cramps the week before your period? Are your cramps so severe that you miss school? The more data you can bring, the better, but Dr. Uma suggests bringing at least 3 month’s worth of tracking data to get the best picture of any trends in your cycle.

How can Aavia help me see patterns in my cycle?

Tracking your period, as well as symptoms like headaches and cramps in Aavia helps you and your doctor see patterns in your cycle. The more you track in Aavia, the more data for your doctor to see, and the smarter Aavia gets!

Aavia’s new cycle trends will alert you when your symptoms might be something more serious, like premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) or endometriosis. Bringing this data to your doctor is a great first step to getting a diagnosis and the right treatment plan for you!

You deserve to live your healthiest, happiest, most pain-free life. If period pain is getting in the way of that, talk to your doctor to start your journey towards feeling better!