Period Pain Vector

Understanding period pain

A guide on what to expect and when to seek medical guidance

For many, period pain is a monthly inconvenience that is often manageable with over-the-counter pain medication or home remedies. However, not all pain is the same and it's important to understand what’s normal, and what might be cause for concern.

In our guide, we’ll explore the different types of pain and what level of discomfort is considered normal. We'll also delve into when to seek medical guidance, as pain can be a symptom of other problems like endometriosis or uterine fibroids. Don't let period pain disrupt your life; arm yourself with knowledge and take control of your health.

In this guide

An introduction to period pain

Periods are part of the menstrual cycle, which is the time from the first day of a period to the day before the next one starts. A menstrual cycle can last anywhere between 22 days to 38 days, but the average is 28 days.

People who have periods bleed from their vagina when the uterus sheds its lining. The length of a period is different from person to person, but is normally between two and seven days. Periods usually start at the age of 12, but you can start from as young as 8 and as old as 17.

How the menstrual cycle can vary

Research by Harvard published in 2022 found that a person’s age, weight, racial and ethnic background may affect the regularity of their period and the length of their cycle.

Age

Menstrual cycles were likely to be longer and less regular in people under 19, but shorter in people in their late forties, before getting longer again after the age of 50. The menstrual cycle became less regular after the age of 45, as people approached the menopause.

Worried concerned mother parent examining child stomach belly at home, teen girl daughter complaining of tummy pain, kid suffering from stomachache. Menstrual cramps dysmenorrhea in teens

Periods usually start at the age of 12

Weight

People with a higher BMI (body mass index) were more likely to have longer and more variable menstrual cycles.

BMI between
18.5 and 24.9

Average 28.9-day cycle

4.6 days variation in cycle length

BMI between
25 and 29.9

Average 29.2-day cycle

4.8 days variation in cycle length

BMI between
30 and 34.9

Average 29.4-day cycle

5 days variation in cycle length

BMI between
35 and 39.9

Average 29.7-day cycle

4.8 days variation in cycle length

BMI between
40 or above

Average 30.4-day cycle

5.4 days variation in cycle length

One theory for this is that since fat tissue can produce a little oestrogen, people with excess fat tissue are more likely to produce more oestrogen, which can affect their menstrual cycle.

Racial and ethnic background

Menstrual cycle length varied by race and ethnicity groups.

White participants: 29.1-day cycle (average)

Black participants: 28.9-day cycle

Hispanic participants: 29.8-day cycle

Asian participants: 30.7-day cycle

While this study suggests that there’s some correlation between race and menstrual cycle length, more research is needed to identify potential causes.

Symptoms of period pain

You may experience some pain throughout your period, often in the form of cramps, which can feel like a constant gripping pain or a heavy ache in the lower abdomen. Other common symptoms are:

Lower back pain - icon

Lower back pain

Headaches or migraines - icon

Headaches or migraines

Nausea - icon

Nausea

Diarrhoea - icon

Diarrhoea

Lower back pain - icon

Bloating

Bloating - icon

Acne or spots

Acne or spots - icon

Breast tenderness

Breast tenderness - icon

Low energy levels

Low energy levels - icon

Trouble sleeping

Trouble sleeping - icon

Mood swings

Mood swings - icon

Feeling irritable or upset

All this is normal, with 90% of people who menstruate saying they experience various symptoms, but these can be uncomfortable and frustrating.

For many, period pain can impact everyday life. For example, one study of students found that period pain affected concentration in class for 94.1% of respondents, and homework and learning for 94% of respondents. The study also found a correlation between menstrual pain intensity and its impact on academic performance. Older research suggests nine days of productivity a year are lost to period pain.

Another survey, this time focused on the workplace, found that 55% of respondents had to take time off due to period pain, but only 27% told their manager this was the reason why.

Causes of period pain

The lining of the uterus thickens to prepare for pregnancy. During ovulation, an egg is released from one of the ovaries. If it’s fertilised, it implants into the uterus lining. If not, the uterus sheds its lining and a period occurs. The uterus produces chemicals called prostaglandins, which make its muscles contract and release to shed the lining, causing period cramps. It’s thought that higher amounts of prostaglandins can cause more intense cramps.

Period pain can sometimes be caused by a contraceptive called an intrauterine device (IUD), especially in the first three-to-six months after insertion. The IUD (not to be confused with the IUS, or intrauterine system) is a T-shaped device that a doctor or nurse puts into your uterus. It contains a small amount of copper which inactivates sperm in the uterus.

The medical term for period pain is dysmenorrhea and there are two types.

Woman experiencing stomach pain

The medical term for period pain is dysmenorrhea.

1

Primary dysmenorrhea

Primary dysmenorrhea is the most common type of period pain. The term refers to cramps that happen every time you have your period, but aren’t related to another medical condition. These cramps can start a couple of days before your period, or when your period starts, and last for two or three days. They may get better as you get older, or after you give birth.

2

Secondary dysmenorrhea

Secondary dysmenorrhea is less common. The term refers to cramps related to a gynaecological condition or infection you have. These cramps can start before your period and continue afterwards. They may get worse over time, especially if the condition isn’t diagnosed or treated.

Who’s more likely to experience period pain?

You’re more likely to experience period pain if:

  • Your period started when you were 11 or younger
  • You’re under 30
  • You bleed heavily during your period
  • Your bleeding is irregular
  • You have a family history of period pain
  • You smoke

Medical conditions associated with period cramps

Significant period pain can be linked to a medical condition — this is called secondary dysmenorrhea. These conditions may have an impact on your everyday life.

Adenomyosis

Adenomyosis is where the tissue that lines the uterus grows into the muscular walls of the uterus. Some people may find it causes pain, while others might not have any symptoms. It’s more likely to be diagnosed in people over 30.

The symptoms of adenomyosis can be treated using some types of hormonal contraception, or medicines like NSAIDs and tranexamic acid. If these don’t make a difference, you can have surgery called endometrial ablation to remove the lining of the uterus, or a hysterectomy to remove the uterus itself.

Symptoms include:

  • Heavy, painful periods
  • Cramping
  • Pelvic pain
  • Bloating or heaviness in the abdomen
  • Fatigue
  • Pain during sex at any time in the menstrual cycle

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is where tissue similar to the type lining the uterus grows outside of it. It’s most commonly found in the reproductive organs, but can grow anywhere in the body and has been found in every organ except the spleen. It can irritate the surrounding tissues and cause scar tissue to form, or form bands of tissue known as adhesions. On the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas can form.

Endometriosis is a long-term condition with no cure, but the symptoms can be managed with treatment, including some methods of hormonal contraception. It can only be diagnosed with 100% certainty through a procedure called a laparoscopy, where the surgeon uses a thin tube called a laparoscope to see inside your abdomen while you’re under general anaesthetic. Diagnosis takes an average of just over 8 years, with 74% of respondents from a recent survey attending 5 or more GP appointments with symptoms prior to diagnosis.

Some people may experience painful symptoms but not have much tissue or adhesions, while others could get very mild symptoms and have lots of tissue and adhesions. There’s still a lot to be discovered about this condition. Worldwide, approximately 190 million people of reproductive age are thought to have endometriosis.

Symptoms include:

  • Heavy periods
  • Pain in the lower abdomen and back that may get worse during your period
  • Period pain that stops you doing your usual activities
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Pain when going to the toilet during your period
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Blood when you go to the toilet during your period
  • Trouble conceiving

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. It can be caused by different types of bacteria, including those that normally live in the vagina and those from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). PID is caused by STIs in 85% of cases.

Symptoms vary from person to person. It’s important to see a GP if you have symptoms of PID (go straight to A&E if you have severe pain). It can usually be treated with a course of antibiotics. They’ll also be able to treat any STIs you may have.

Without treatment, PID can cause long-term issues like infertility and chronic pelvic pain. It can scar your fallopian tubes and cause them to narrow, which increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy (where the fertilised egg implants outside the uterus). This can have dangerous complications if it’s not treated.

Symptoms include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain or discomfort during sex
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Pain when you go to the toilet
  • Heavy, painful periods
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Severe pain in the abdomen (in more serious cases)
  • A fever (in more serious cases)
  • Nausea and/or vomiting (in more serious cases)

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), where people have high levels of the hormone androgen, which can cause excess body or facial hair to grow, and lots of tiny little follicles on the ovaries. (Confusingly, these aren’t ovarian cysts, despite the name of the condition.) These follicles are harmless, but can stop ovulation from happening and make it difficult to conceive.

There’s no cure, but the symptoms can be managed with treatment, including lifestyle changes, the contraceptive pill, anti-androgen medicines (for excessive hair growth), or a type of surgery called laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD), which destroys the tissue that produces androgen.

Symptoms include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Excess body or facial hair
  • Weight gain
  • Thinning hair
  • Hair loss
  • Oily skin
  • Acne

Uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids, which are non-cancerous growths which attach to the wall of the uterus. There are three main types of uterine fibroid:

Intramural fibroids: which develop in the muscle wall of the uterus.

Subserosal fibroids: which develop outside of the wall of the uterus and into the pelvis.

Submucosal fibroids: which develop in the layer of muscle under the inner lining of the uterus.

They’re more likely to develop during reproductive age (approximately 15-50 years). Some people might not have symptoms and get diagnosed during an exam or ultrasound scan for something else.

Uterine fibroids can shrink without treatment after the menopause. They don’t need to be treated if they’re not causing symptoms. If they are, the symptoms can be treated through medicines, including the LNG-IUS (levonorgestrel intrauterine system), tranexamic acid tablets, and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Surgery can be offered if your symptoms are severe and don’t respond to treatment.

It’s thought that between 20% and 50% of people of reproductive age have uterine fibroids, and that 77% will develop them before going through the menopause. They are more common in Black people.

Symptoms include:

  • Heavy, painful periods
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lower back pain
  • The need to urinate frequently
  • Constipation
  • Pain or discomfort during sex

Managing period pain

Period pain can feel like an unwelcome encroachment on your daily life. It takes grit to carry on with routine tasks whilst managing the grips of menstrual cramps, and sometimes you may not want to (or be able to). In this section, we'll explore remedies to help you on those tough days.

Non-medicinal methods

Regular exercise

It might not be the first thing you think of, but exercise like swimming, walking, or gentle yoga can release endorphins (i.e. feel-good hormones) and reduce the impact of the prostaglandins that cause the uterus to contract.

Heat

There’ll be some days when the last thing you want to do is exercise. For those, it can help to apply heat to the areas you feel the pain in. This can be done safely using a hot water bottle, heat pads or patches, microwavable heat packs, or by taking a warm bath. Analysis of multiple studies has suggested that heat therapy can increase blood flow, reduce tension in muscles and help them to relax, which in turn reduces pain.

Stress relief

Period pain can be stressful, even more so if you’re also experiencing other common symptoms. Managing stress has a whole host of health benefits, including reducing tension in the body and improving your mental health. Ways you can manage stress include:

Woman exercising doing yoga
Heart icon
Relaxation techniques

Trying relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga

Sleep icon
Getting enough sleep

Getting enough sleep, and setting up your bedroom to encourage a good night’s rest

Drinking icon
Avoiding drinking alcohol

It’s a depressant, and can have harmful effects on your physical and mental health if consumed in excess

Smoking icon
Avoiding smoking

It’s been found to increase anxiety and tension

Caffine icon
Avoiding caffeine

It can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol

Massage icon
Massage

Massaging your abdomen and lower back (or getting regular massages if you’re able to)

Medication and supplements

Pain relievers icon

Pain relievers

Period pain can be reduced with over-the-counter medication like paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and can reduce the amount of prostaglandins your uterus produces, which in turn reduces cramps. It also reduces inflammation.

(Note that you can’t take NSAIDs if you’re allergic to aspirin, or have liver disease, bleeding problems, or stomach problems such as ulcers. Check with your doctor if you’re not sure.)

Paracetamol

Paracetamol can treat mild to moderate pain, by interrupting pain signals before they reach the brain. Most people can take it safely and without side effects.

Try to take pain relievers when you expect to have symptoms, before the pain breaks through, as they’ll be more effective.

Hormonal contraceptives icon

Hormonal contraceptives

Some hormonal contraceptives can be effective in reducing period pain. There are different types available, which your GP or gynaecologist will be able to talk through with you. It’s important to get guidance from them, as not everyone can use each type of contraceptive. Not all contraception can reduce period pain, but here are some of the best for minimising abdominal cramps and combatting other period symptoms:

Combined pill icon

Combined pill

The combined pill contains the hormones oestrogen and progestogen. It stops the ovary from releasing an egg each month and thins the lining of the uterus, which can make periods lighter and less painful. Some combined contraceptive pills also help to reduce acne.

There are two types of combined pill: the everyday pill and the 21-day pill. You take the everyday pill every day — 21 pills are contraceptives, while seven are inactive pills that don’t contain any hormones. You’ll have a period during this week. You take the 21-day pill for 21 days, then don’t take any pills for seven days, during which you’ll have a period.

No matter which type you’re prescribed, you need to take the pills at the same time every day in order for them to work as a contraceptive. They’re over 99% effective when taken correctly all the time.

Progesterone-only pill icon

Progesterone-only pill

Sometimes called the mini pill, this pill only contains one hormone: progesterone. This makes it suitable for people who can’t take oestrogen. It stops the ovary from releasing an egg each month and thins the lining of the uterus, which can make periods lighter and less painful. Your periods may become less regular or stop completely, but this isn’t harmful.

Most progesterone-only pills are taken continuously, with no break.

IUS icon

IUS

An intrauterine system (IUS) is a small, plastic T-shaped device that a doctor or nurse inserts into your uterus. It releases the hormone progestogen which prevents pregnancy and can make periods lighter, shorter and less painful. Once fitted it can last between three and eight years, but may be taken out at any time. The IUS is sometimes known as the hormonal coil.

Scroll to view »

Hormonal contraceptive Combined pill Progesterone-only pill IUS
What is it? A pill that contains oestrogen and progestogen. A pill that contains progesterone. A small, plastic T-shaped device.
How is it administered? It can be taken continuously, with 21 contraceptive pills and seven sugar pills, or you can take 21 pills and then have a week’s break. Both types are taken orally. Orally. Once you finish one pack of pills you immediately start another with no break. A doctor or nurse inserts it into your uterus, where it can last between three and eight years.
How does it work? It stops the ovary from releasing an egg each month and thins the lining of the uterus. It stops the ovary from releasing an egg each month and thins the lining of the uterus. It releases the hormone progestogen, which stops pregnancy from developing.
How effective is it at preventing pregnancy? 99% effective if taken correctly all the time. 91% effective with typical use. 99% effective if taken correctly all the time. 91% effective with typical use. Over 99% effective if taken correctly all the time. Over 99% effective with typical use.
Advantages
  • Non-invasive
  • Can treat painful periods
  • Can treat heavy periods
  • Can reduce symptoms of endometriosis
  • Different types of combined pill available
  • Non-invasive
  • Can treat painful periods
  • Can treat heavy periods
  • Different types of progesterone-only pill
  • An option for people who can’t take oestrogen
  • Works for 3-8 years once fitted, but can be removed at any time
  • One of the most effective methods of contraception
  • Can treat painful periods
  • Can treat heavy periods
  • Not affected by other medicines
Disadvantages
  • Can cause temporary side effects
  • Doesn’t protect against STIs
  • Not suitable for everyone
  • Can cause side effects
  • Can cause unreliable bleeding for the first 3-6 months
  • Doesn’t protect against STIs
  • Not suitable for everyone
  • Can cause side effects
  • Invasive
  • Having an IUS fitted can be painful
  • You need to check the IUS is still in place
  • Doesn’t protect against STIs

Alternative medicine and natural remedies

Although alternative medicine and natural remedies for period pain haven't been researched enough yet to come to any conclusions, anecdotal evidence suggests that the methods listed below might help some people.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture, where thin needles are inserted through your skin at specific points in the body. This technique is derived from ancient Chinese medicine and works by stimulating sensory nerves, prompting the body to produce endorphins, which can relieve pain. One systematic review of older research concluded that acupuncture might help with period pain, but that studies were limited. Further research is needed before conclusions can be drawn. Acupressure, where specific points of the body are stimulated with gentle pressure, is a similar treatment that doesn’t use needles.

TENS machine

TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine, where you stick adhesive patches to your skin. These patches contain electrodes, which stimulate your nerves through different levels of electric current. It’s thought that this changes your pain signals so you feel the pain less intensely.

Supplements

Some supplements are thought to help with period pain by reducing inflammation, including vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B-1, vitamin B-6, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Anti-inflammatory foods

Some foods are anti-inflammatory, such as leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach and watercress, ginger and nuts. Green tea also has anti-inflammatory properties.

A 2023 study comparing pain relief medication to herbal remedies found that 72.7% of those who used pain relief medication did so because they considered their pain to be severe, compared to 44.4% of those who used herbal remedies. The majority of both groups said period pain affected their everyday activities (92.9% and 88.9% respectively). Ultimately the pain relief you use depends on what works best for you — everyone is different. It can take some time to figure out the best combination of methods.

Woman cooking food in a pot

When is surgery an option?

Surgery may be offered if other treatments for your condition aren’t helping, or if a diagnosis needs to be made. For example, if you have uterine fibroids and the symptoms don’t improve with treatment, you can have them removed. Some conditions, including endometriosis, can only be diagnosed through surgery.

In extreme cases, the uterus can be removed (if you’re not planning to have children). This operation is called a hysterectomy.

We’ll talk more about surgery in the next chapter.

When to see a doctor

For some, period pain is often shrugged off as just a part of life. But, when it hampers your daily activities, seeking professional advice is key to getting answers and finding relief.

See someone at your GP surgery if:

  • Taking pain medication doesn’t help, and the pain is stopping you from your usual activities
  • Your period pain suddenly gets worse
  • Your periods become more painful, heavy, or irregular
  • You’re over 25 and get severe cramps for the first time
  • You’re in pain when you’re not on your period
  • You have a fever alongside your period pain
  • You bleed between periods
  • You experience pain during sex or when you go to the toilet

You can ask to see a female doctor if you’d feel more comfortable. Your GP will be able to refer you to a gynaecologist if your symptoms suggest you need specialist care.

How to prepare for your appointment

It can help both you and your doctor if you make a list of your symptoms, and whether they interfere with your daily activities, like work, school, exercise, or any hobbies you may have. Tracking your periods allows you to spot patterns — you can do this on paper, in a notes app, or using a period-tracking app.

It can also be useful to note any medical conditions you have, any medicines and supplements you take, and any stressful events in your life that have happened recently or are ongoing.

Questions to ask your doctor:

  • What could be causing my symptoms?
  • Could my symptoms change over time?
  • How can I treat my symptoms?
  • Are there any tests or scans I can have done?
  • Are there any helpful resources I can access?

During the appointment

It’s natural to be nervous about seeing your doctor. Having an idea of the questions they might ask you can help you feel more prepared, and give you time to think of how you would answer.

Questions your doctor might ask

  • How old were you when you had your first period?
  • How long do your periods last?
  • How many days are there between the end of one period and the beginning of the next?
  • How heavy are your periods?
  • Do you bleed in between periods?
  • Where do your cramps hurt?
  • Do you have any other symptoms with your period pain? (For example: back pain, dizziness, headaches, breast tenderness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, or low moods.)
  • Does your period pain stop you from doing everyday activities?
  • If you’re sexually active, is sex painful?
  • Have you tried any treatments? Have any helped?
  • Has anyone in your family experienced similar symptoms?
Female doctor examining a patient

Describing your pain

It can be difficult to describe pain — some will ask you to rate it on a scale of 1-10, but what one person considers to be a 7 might not be the same for someone else. Descriptive words can help you paint a more accurate picture so they understand it better:

Aching Burning Constant Dull Gnawing Hot Intense Nagging Sharp Spreading Stabbing Throbbing Tingling

Options your GP may recommend

Treatment

  • Prescription anti-inflammatory medication, such as tranexamic acid, mefenamic acid and naproxen, which reduces swelling and pain
  • A TENS machine (if you haven’t already tried it)
  • Trying hormonal contraception, if you’re able to take it, or switching to a different pill or method if you’d like to try another one
Black woman outside looking happy

Tests

Your doctor may perform a pelvic exam. During this, you’ll lay on your back, bend your knees, and let them fall open. The doctor will place one or two lubricated, gloved fingers into your vagina while pressing on the lower abdomen with their other hand. They’ll check your uterus, ovaries, and any tenderness. They’ll also insert a speculum to open the walls of the vagina, so they can see the vagina and cervix. This can be uncomfortable, but you can ask for a smaller speculum. A chaperone will be present throughout the exam.

They may also recommend further tests to get a more accurate picture of what’s happening in your body. These tests include:

Ultrasound scan

An ultrasound scan, where sound waves create an image of your reproductive organs. During an external scan, the technician will place cold lubricating gel on your abdomen and pelvis, then move the probe over your skin and transmit the resulting images to a monitor. You’ll probably be offered an internal scan, during which a thin probe with a sterile cover is inserted into the vagina and transmits images to the monitor. This may be a little uncomfortable, but it isn’t usually painful. A chaperone will be present.

You’ll normally be asked to arrive at your appointment with a full bladder, which can cause discomfort. You’ll be able to empty your bladder before an internal scan.

Female doctor

Hysteroscopy

A hysteroscopy, where a thin tube with a small camera is inserted through the vagina and cervix and into the uterus. It transmits images of the inside of your uterus to a screen so any issues can be diagnosed or treated. Sometimes the hysteroscopist will take a sample of tissue, carry out endometrial ablation to treat adenomyosis, or remove fibroids or polyps (small growths) during the procedure. You can’t have a hysteroscopy if you’re pregnant.

A hysteroscopy can be painful, especially if you’ve found previous examinations or cervical smear tests painful, or have experienced sexual assault. You can ask to be referred to a clinic that offers gas and air, local anaesthetic, sedation or general anaesthetic. You can also ask for the procedure to stop at any time. A chaperone will be present throughout.

MRI

An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan is more detailed than an ultrasound scan. It uses radio waves and a magnetic field to create images of the inside of your body. Sometimes you’ll be injected with a contrast dye to highlight specific tissues in the body.

An MRI scan is painless, but can be uncomfortable if you’re claustrophobic because your body will be enclosed by the machine. Let the radiographer know if you have claustrophobia. You can also ask to come out at any time by pushing an emergency button, and you’ll be able to talk to the radiographer throughout.

For an MRI looking at your abdomen, you’ll enter the machine feet first and may be able to keep your head out of the machine. You’ll be given headphones so you can listen to music, which dulls the clanking noises made by the machine.

You can’t have an MRI if you have any metal in or on your body.

A doctor looking at results with a patient

CT

A CT (computed tomography) scan is also more detailed than an ultrasound scan. It takes X-ray images from lots of different angles and uses them to create cross-sectional images of the organs and soft tissues inside your body. You may be given a contrast dye to show parts of the body in more detail.

A CT scan is painless but, like with an MRI scan, some people may feel claustrophobic. During the scan, you lay on a flat bed while the machine, which is shaped like a ring doughnut, moves around part of your body. Let the radiographer know if you have claustrophobia as they’ll be able to give you medicine to help you relax.

Having surgery

While surgery isn’t used to diagnose menstrual cramps as such, it may be recommended if your symptoms aren’t improved by initial treatments, or if a diagnosis needs to be made.

Laparoscopy

A laparoscopy is a type of keyhole surgery, which means small incisions are made and recovery time is reduced. It can be used to diagnose endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease, and to remove adhesions and endometriomas, fibroids, ovarian cysts, ectopic pregnancy, and even the entire uterus (hysterectomy).

A laparoscopy is done under general anaesthetic. During the operation, the surgeon makes a small cut near your belly button, then pumps air in so they can see better. They insert a thin tube with a camera, called a laparoscope, so they can show the images on a screen. They may make further cuts if you're having treatment to remove anything. Once everything is done, the air is released and the incisions are stitched, then covered with a dressing.

Laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD)

LOD is done if you have PCOS. While you’re under general anaesthetic, the surgeon will make a small cut, pump in air, and insert a laparoscope (as detailed above). They’ll then use heat or a laser to destroy the tissue that produces the androgens that causes the symptoms of PCOS.

Woman smiling with curly hair

Final thoughts on period pain

It's important to understand that period pain falls into two broad categories: primary and secondary. While primary period pain is common and can often be treated with over-the-counter medications and natural remedies, secondary period pain suggests there may be an underlying health issue. Be sure to reach out to someone at your GP surgery if intense period pain disrupts your daily life or if you notice a change in your usual symptoms.

No one should have to suffer in silence each month, and understanding more about period pain is the first step in the right direction. Your wellbeing is a priority, so be sure to see your GP if period pain is having a significant impact on your life.