Why does my pelvic floor hurt during my period/menstrual cycle?
Menstrual pain happens when the muscles in the uterus contract, causing cramping. The pelvic floor and back can also feel achey.
More women and young girls experience these symptoms than we might think. Minor discomfort at the onset of your period is considered normal. If your pain is lingering for longer or affecting your ability to carry out everyday routines, you might want to check in with your doctor or naturopath or functional medicine practitioner.
Other symptoms that may occur include nausea and diarrhea.
High levels of a chemical we naturally produce in our bodies, is called prostaglandins which are a group of lipids made at the site of inflammation. They contribute to pain due to direct action on the nerve endings and also by increasing sensitivity to pain.
How does ‘normal’ menstrual pelvic pain feel?
Many women experience cramps and/or pelvic pain during the first couple of days of their menstrual cycle. If the pain fades with pain management medications or does not interfere with work, exercise, and routine activity, that would be considered fairly normal.
As women, we are gifted with a monthly menstrual cycle from our teenage years to our fourth or fifth decade. Unfortunately, education about our cycle is limited and the perimenopause and post-menopause years are often left out of the conversation. It would benefit women and people with a uterus worldwide if more education was provided by our healthcare providers when we start menstruating, when we become pregnant, in the postpartum period, and in perimenopause when it is common for the the cycles to become heavier, more painful and more erratic.
Let’s look at a few more reasons for pelvic pain during your menstrual cycle:
- Dysmenorrhea is a term for cramps during the menstrual cycle, and as mentioned above, can be caused by the pelvic floor muscles contracting or tightening in response to prostaglandins.
- Adenomyosis happens when the cells lining the uterus grow into the muscular wall of the uterus. It can lead to heaviness in the pelvis, painful abdominal distension and strong to severe cramps.
- Endometriosis is when tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus (endometrial tissue) grows outside of the uterus. It can be anywhere in the body and contributes to significant pain especially during menstruation.
Ways to Get Relief.
Heat in the form of a bath or hot water bottle or heating pad can provide welcome relief for some.
Photo by Joshua Oluwagbemiga
Resting on a couch or floor with the feet elevated can help reduce stress which can heighten sensations of pain.
Gentle exercise and movement such as walking and yoga are essential.
While you may not feel like it, you can absolutely do Kegels while on your period and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can often reduce the severity of cramping. Your sense of motivation may be lower, and your perception of ‘engaging’ the muscles may also be less, but that doesn’t mean the muscles aren’t working.
Vitamins such as magnesium, Vitamins E B-1 and B- 6, along with omega-3 fatty acids, work well to reduce discomfort during your period.
Stress affects everything in our lives, and during your menstrual cycle, when you feel bloated, tired, and crampy, stress can elevate. During your period is an excellent time to be mindful of your body and how it functions, do some deep breathing such as the core breath – and focus on lengthening the exhales to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Other alternative healing methods may include acupuncture, massage, or using kinesio type tape such as that from Mobility Tape For Her.
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