Arlanda’s Corner: HELP! Why Do I Have Painful Periods?

August 7, 2018

Arlanda Smith, MSN, WHNP-BC

The cramps you feel during your period are due to chemicals your uterus releases called “Prostaglandins.”  Prostaglandins cause the uterus to contract or tighten.  It’s the same kind of contraction that happens in childbirth.

Contractions during a period are normal, but they can be painful.  Most women who have painful periods have low back pain and cramping in their lower abdomen that can start 1-2 days before their period and last 2-4 days.  Some women may also have other symptoms during their period such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, headaches, and/or lightheadedness, all due to high levels of Prostaglandins.

What Can I Do For My Painful Periods?

For women who have painful periods that make it difficult to do normal household activities, a job, or school activities they may need to try:

  • Taking Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID’s) such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen
  • Using a heating pad or water bottle
  • Drinking warm beverages
  • Meditation or Yoga
  • Exercise
  • Acupuncture

If these self-care measures do not work you may need to see a medical provider who can  prescribe:

  • Birth Control Pills
  • Mirena IUD
  • Prescription NSAIDs


If you need further testing to evaluate if you have other conditions that can cause painful periods such as:

  • Endometriosis
  • Fibroids
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Sexually Transmitted Infection
  • Stress and Anxiety

I would be glad to discuss with you treatment options for your painful periods.

Arlanda Smith is a certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner with Memorial Healthcare’s Health Partners for Women. She is accepting new patients with most insurance. To reach Arlanda, contact (989) 729-4300.


Sources: Up To Date, Medline Plus, and Center for Young Women’s Health