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Period pain (dysmenorrhoea)

Period pain, also called dysmenorrhoea, is very common. Most women experience period pain at some point, though it's more common in teenagers and young adults and occurs less frequently as you get older.

Your feelings of pain can vary with each period. Sometimes you'll have no pain at all, and other times, it will be more painful. You can have different types of pain. The pain can feel:

Causes of period pain

Period pain is caused by the muscular wall of your uterus (womb) tightening (contracting), and is not usually caused by an underlying medical condition. But occasionally it can be, especially if you're in your 30s or 40s.

Medical conditions that can cause period pain include:

If your doctor suspects you might have a medical condition, you might need some tests to find the cause. Any treatment will depend on what the tests show.

Treating period pain

There are several treatments you can try to reduce the pain.

You can try taking over-the-counter pain relief medication, such as:

NSAIDs help with pain and can also reduce how much you bleed. You can buy ibuprofen over the counter. Other NSAIDs need a prescription. It's important to take NSAIDs with food.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist to check these tablets are safe for you to take.

There are other self-help methods to help with your period pain. You can:

Getting help with period pain

You should see your GP if:

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed September 2021.

Page reference: 47492

Review key: HIPER-53354