Plagued by agonising periods? The 7 causes and when to see a GP

PERIODS aren't known to be the most pleasant thing to go through every month.

Most women they are able to crack on with daily life while they are "on".

But some suffer with horrendous pains and very long periods, meaning they dread their monthly ordeal and end up taking dozens of painkillers.

It's known medically as dysmenorrhea and affects up to 20 per cent of women.

If you are struggling with aches and pains in your cycle, you could be suffering with one of these seven conditions.

It's worth keeping a note of your exact symptoms and visiting the doctor if you are finding it hard to cope with your period pain.

They should be able to offer support, give a diagnosis or send you to a specialist and hopefully provide some much-needed pain relief and answers.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a chronic condition which occurs when tissue from the lining of the womb is found outside of the womb – in areas of the body including the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, the abdomen and the bladder.

It can sometimes cause damage to the Fallopian tubes or ovaries, leading to fertility problems.

Other complications can include painful ovarian cysts and adhesions – areas of tissue which can fuse organs together.

If you are suffering from painful and heavy periods, long periods, pelvic pain, nausea or chronic fatigue you should go and see your GP.

Fibroids

Fibroids are non cancerous tumours that can put pressure on the uterus or cause abnormal periods and pain.

They can be as small as a pea or grow as large as a melon.

Also the symptoms can be nasty, they usually aren't known about as they don't produce any.

They also aren't a worry, but worth keeping an eye on and important to diagnose if you have symptoms.

If you have dull pelvic pain, lower back pain, abdominal swelling or pain with periods or sex go and speak to a doctor.

Varicose veins

This is something you will usually associate with your legs, but can actually happen anywhere.

They can develop in your pelvic veins, and can results in pelvic congestion syndrome.

This is when veins and blood vessels in the lower abdomen stop working well, with blood starting to build up.

The veins can enlarged and change shape, like varicose veins.

This can cause chronic and severe period pains, affecting up to 13-40 per cent of women in the UK.

Signs you might be suffering from it include pain during sex, while standing for a long time, or pain when you change your posture.

Some women also get pain before or during their periods, a sudden need to urinate or enlarged and distorted veins on the buttocks, genitals or thighs.

Pelvic inflammatory disease

This is an infection of the female reproductive organs, which includes the fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix and uterus.

Bacteria enter the vagina and cause an infection, with it eventually moving to the pelvic organs.

It can become life-threatening if the infection spreads to the blood.

Symptoms can include pain in the abdomen, fever, painful urination, irregular bleeding, tiredness or painful sex.

Closed cervix

The cervix is located between your vagina and uterus. It largely remains closed.

But when you ovulate it will open to try and help you get pregnant by allowed any sperm to enter the uterus.

Sometimes it is too narrow and cannot open, which causes irregular or painful periods.

If you get painful periods and are struggling to become pregnant, or you also feel a lump in your pelvic area – you may have a closed cervix.

Adenomyosis

This is a condition that makes the uterine walls (that line your uterus) grow thicker.

It can cause heavy or longer bleeding, with pain during the cycle or sex.

It's thought to be linked to increased levels of estrogen, and usually disappears after menopause.

Symptoms including longer menstrual cramps, spotting between periods, blood clots between periods, tenderness in the abdomen and long cycles could indicate the condition.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormone disorder that's thought to affect as many as 1 in 5 women in the UK.

It occurs when the sacs the ovaries sit in are unable to release an egg, which means ovulation doesn't happen.

For many, the only hint of PCOS is irregular periods, while in more severe cases sufferers can be left with embarrassing hair growth on their faces, chest, back and backside.

But it can also cause heavy and prolonged periods.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director, Patientaccess.com, says many women with PCOS will gain weight – but also struggle to lose it as well.

She told The Sun: "The relationship between PCOS and weight is complicated.

"Being overweight increases your chance of getting PCOS, but in some cases having PCOS can lead to weight gain, especially around your tummy.

"Many women with PCOS find it hard to lose weight, too."

Medics don't yet know what causes polycystic ovary syndrome.

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