Understanding Pelvic Pain During Periods: Causes and Symptoms

Today we are dispelling the myths and misconceptions on the pervasive belief that pelvic pain during periods is normal and expected. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s delve into the reality of pelvic pain during periods, why it matters, medical causes of pelvic pain during periods and how pelvic floor physical therapy can help.

Defining Pelvic Pain During Periods

Pelvic pain during periods refers to any discomfort felt between the hip bones, down toward the navel, and into the pubic bone. This pain can manifest as a dull, constant ache or a sharp, throbbing sensation. Additionally, pelvic pain during periods may radiate to the lower back and hips, often accompanied by abdominal pressure.

What Causes Pelvic Pain During Periods?

Menstrual cycles are so crucial that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) considers them the sixth vital sign. Addressing pelvic pain during periods is essential because pain is a signal that something is wrong. Despite being common, pelvic pain during menstruation is not normal.

A key factor in menstrual pain is prostaglandin, a hormone-like substance that causes the uterus to contract. Higher prostaglandin levels during menstruation often lead to stronger contractions, which can cause significant discomfort. For many, pelvic pain peaks before the onset of their period and diminishes a few days into the cycle.

Medical Conditions Related to Pelvic Pain 

They can work with your medical provider to rule out other potential causes of severe pelvic pain, such as endometriosis, fibroids, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or congenital conditions

Endometriosis and pelvic pain

Endometriosis is the presence of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. There is not a known cause of endometriosis. Some theories include retrograde menstruation and alter immunity. When the endometrial cells are outside of the uterus, there can be intense pain during your period. 

Adenomyosis: Symptoms and treatments

Adenomyosis is when the endometrial cells are found in the muscle lining of the uterus. Again, there is no known cause of adenomyosis. Some theories include altered lymphatic pathways and displaced bone marrow cells. During your period, the endometrial cells disrupt uterus stretching and mobility contributing to pain.

Fibroids and their impact on menstrual cycles

Severe Period Pain and physical therapy

For the 5-15% of people who experience debilitating pelvic pain during their period, this pain is more than an inconvenience. It can significantly interfere with daily life and activities. Unfortunately, many people under-report their severe pelvic pain, known as dysmenorrhea, due to embarrassment or shame. 

Signs that you should reach out to your provider

  • Fatigue limiting you to bed rest
  • Heavy bleeding, soaking through a tampon in less than 1 hour 
  • Pain that over the counter pain medications do not alleviate

If severe pelvic pain is a regular occurrence, please see your OBGYN and get a referral for  pelvic floor physical therapy.

Pelvic floor physical therapy for period pain

Pelvic floor physical therapy can make a significant difference in managing period pain. Therapists can provide individualized treatment plans based on each person’s symptoms, addressing dysmenorrhea through various methods, including:

Manual Therapy Pelvic pain treatment San Jose, CA.
  • Breath work: Period pain contributes to shallow breathing which limits normal mobility of the abdominal that is required to improve blood flow and lymphatic drainage. 
  • Adhesion and scar tissue breakdown: Adhesions can occur from prior surgery or abdominal diagnoses such as endometriosis and PCOS. This limits tissue mobility, increase nerve sensitivity and decreased blood flow.
  • Organ mobility and ligament treatment: Every organ has it’s own mobility, including uterus and ovaries. With increased strain to the organ, mobility is limited contributing to pain.
  • Pelvic floor muscle: The pelvic floor muscles can tighten as a response to pain in the abdominal area. Pelvic floor muscles should contract and release in response to the body. The increased tone in the muscles will limit it’s mobility contributing to more pelvic pain and dysfunction. 

Seeking Treatment for Pelvic Pain During Periods

If you experience pelvic pain during your period or at any time of the month, a pelvic floor physical therapist can help alleviate your discomfort. Many people suffer in silence, feeling ashamed to discuss their pain with employers or teachers. However, relentless period pain can disrupt everyday life, affect well-being, and impact professional and academic success.

You don’t have to endure this pain. A pelvic floor physical therapist can assess your pelvic floor and period pain symptoms, recommending a personalized treatment plan to help you become the healthiest version of yourself.

If you are experiencing any symptoms, please contact us today to begin your healing journey. Your pain matters, and we are here to help you find relief.

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