Period pain is an insufficient description of the turmoil women go through every time they menstruate. There is no indication of the bloating, breast tenderness, low moods, stress, increase in appetite and generally feeling women have to go through. These symptoms generally only occur leading up to and during a period so there is a respite for most of the month.
Premenstrual tension (PMT) and period pain usually occur during the days leading up to a period. Sometimes women suffer from period type pain at other times in the month if it is a one-off it is not likely to be anything serious. If severe cramping persists it is possibly a sign of an underlying health condition. Visiting your doctor will provide a diagnosis and treatment if necessary.
Possible causes of cramping when you are not having a period include; endometriosis, ovarian cysts, fibroids, scar tissue, PCOS, stress or ovarian cancer. There is treatment available for all of these conditions so it is important to seek medical advice. Pregnancy is also a possibility especially if you have recently had unprotected sex.
There are a number of health conditions that cause women to feel cramping when they are not due a period. Here are some possible reasons why.
Endometriosis is a painful condition involving uterine lining existing outside the womb. It affects ovaries, fallopian tubes and pelvic tissue. On extremely rare conditions it affects tissue in other parts of your body. It is painful because the uterine lining behaves exactly as if it is in the uterus.
Symptoms include; painful periods, pain during sex, heavy bleeding, difficulty conceiving, nausea and constipation. Treatments include; painkillers, hormone treatments and surgery. There is no cure at the moment so managing the condition is the most effective way to treat it. (Source: NHS UK)
Ovarian cysts are a very common condition most women experience without even knowing about it. They are sacs of fluid that occur on the ovaries and disappear after a few months. Occasionally cysts grow very large, burst or cut off the blood supply to the ovaries.
There are two types of ovarian cysts, the first is a normal part of the menstrual cycle and the second is due to abnormal cell growth. Symptoms include; pelvic pain, painful sex, constipation, frequent urination, heavy periods and bloating. An ultrasound scan enables a proper diagnosis and in normal condition,s the cyst goes away by itself. They require treatment if they are large, you have lots of symptoms and have had the menopause. (Source: NHS UK)
Fibroids are benign growths occurring in and around the womb. They consist of muscle and fibrous tissue and are often symptomless. Women experiencing symptoms usually suffer from painful heavy periods, stomach pain, back pain, frequent urination and painful sex.
Fibroids don’t cause many problems but if they do medication to shrink them or surgery to remove them helps relieve the pain. (Source: NHS UK)
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS sufferers have many cysts in their ovaries causing an increase in androgens and irregular periods. This results in hirsutism, fertility issues. And weight gain and irregular periods. No one knows the exact cause and currently, there is no treatment for PCOS so it is a matter of managing symptoms. Losing weight and using hair removal products help to relieve symptoms and improve appearance. Fertility treatments may help sufferers to conceive although it is not always successful. (Source: NHS UK)
Ovarian cancer is very common women's cancer in older women but also affects young women too. Symptoms include; bloating, swollen stomach, pelvic pain, feeling full quickly, frequent urination. Many other conditions have similar symptoms so avoid assuming the worst if you are experiencing them. It is prudent to visit your doctor for peace of mind if you have any of these symptoms.
This type of cancer is incurable if it isn’t caught early and is likely to return after treatment. Treatment involves surgery and chemotherapy half of women who have this cancer die within five years of treatment. Don’t hesitate to go to the doctors if you suspect you have ovarian cancer because it is better to find out you have nothing wrong than leaving diagnosis too soon. (Source: NHS UK).
Diagnosing yourself over the internet results in panic and assuming the worst so if you are worried go to the doctor.
By Parv Sagoo (June 2018)