5 Types of Menstrual Cramps That Could Signal A Serious Problem

5 Types of Period Cramps That Could Signal A Serious Problem

Cramps suck. But they’re nothing if not consistent. That’s why it can be so alarming when your cramps suddenly feel different. Maybe what was once tolerably painful is now incapacitating. Or the stabby feeling you’re used to continues even after your flow is over. Or you’re bleeding more—way more. Whatever the shift is, the fact […]

by | Mar 22, 2018

Cramps suck. But they’re nothing if not consistent. That’s why it can be so alarming when your cramps suddenly feel different. Maybe what was once tolerably painful is now incapacitating. Or the stabby feeling you’re used to continues even after your flow is over. Or you’re bleeding more—way more. Whatever the shift is, the fact that something has changed is a red flag you shouldn’t ignore, says Alyssa Dweck, ob-gyn in Mount Kisco, New York and author of V Is for Vagina. If you notice any kind of change, don’t blow it off. Let our guide give you insight into what your cramps are trying to tell you.

You could have: uterine fibroids. These benign growths stem from inside or outside the muscular uterine wall. What causes them is unclear, but fibroids are super common, especially in women in their thirties and forties. The actual pain you feel, which Dweck describes as “off the charts,” can be triggered by inflammation or simply the fibroid itself pressing against your uterus.

What to do: Check in with your ob-gyn and tell her your symptoms, recommends Dweck. She’ll likely run some scans, which can identify if you have a fibroid and better determine whether you should have it removed. That will depend on many factors, including where it’s located and how big it is (these buggers can be as small as a button and large as a grapefruit). In the meantime, since fibroids are sensitive to estrogen, getting an Rx for birth control pills can help dial back the pain. 

RELATED: 7 Things Your Gyno Won’t Tell You…But Really Wants To

...

Alyssa Zolna

You could have: pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a serious infection of the uterus, ovaries, and/or fallopian tubes. An untreated STD such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, both of which often have no symptoms, typically causes PID. “It’s kind of an indolent pain, and it’s not usually sharp or stabbing, but it’s not comfortable,” says Dweck. And when you get your period and your usual cramps get going, the pain from PID will feel even worse.

What to do: Make an appointment with your ob-gyn pronto. While PID is not usually an emergency, says Dweck, your doc will want to test you to find out the exact cause and get you on antibiotics ASAP. The infection is totally curable, but if left untreated for too long, scar tissue could form in your reproductive tract and mess with your fertility. 

...

Alyssa Zolna

You could have: an ovarian torsion. An ovarian torsion happens when something (like a cyst) causes your ovary to twist, choking off its own blood flow, says Dweck. “It’s a super intense, knock-your-socks-off kind of pain and a real medical emergency,” she says, that could result in loss of function in that ovary.

What to do: Hightail it to the ER. Doctors there will want to do an ultrasound and other scans. If they diagnose torsion, you’ll need emergency laparoscopic (a.k.a., minimally invasive) surgery to untwist it. “Sometimes the ovary can be untwisted and saved, however if the ovary looks black or nonviable it would need to be removed,” says Dweck. “Luckily the other ovary will take over with ovulation and estrogen production if this occurs.”

...

Alyssa Zolna

You could have: endometriosis, a condition that causes uterine tissue to migrate to other organs such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes, where it adheres. Over time, the runaway tissue can develop into benign cysts. Up to 10 percent of women are thought to have endometriosis, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, though it can take years to diagnose because most women assume their killer cramps are normal. “It’s the kind of pain that can really interfere with day-to-day activities,” says Dweck. And depending on where it is in your pelvis, it can also make sex painful.

What to do: See your doctor and relay your symptoms. She’ll likely schedule you for imaging tests and give you a sense of what your options are. Because endometrial tissue is hormonally sensitive, going on oral contraceptives or other hormonal meds can cut back the pain. But the only way to truly diagnose endometriosis is to undergo laparoscopic surgery, during which your doc may try to remove as much of the tissue as possible. (It can come back, unfortunately.)

RELATED: Most Popular Contraception

...

Alyssa Zolna

You could have: an ill-fitting copper (non-hormonal) IUD. In the first three months after your ob-gyn inserts this tiny T-shaped device into your uterus, some cramping is considered normal as your body adjusts.

What to do: “If this is persistent or new after having had no problem with your IUD, it warrants a follow-up exam and probably an ultrasound to insure good position,” says Dweck. Odds are there isn’t anything seriously wrong. But your M.D. will check things out and adjust the way it fits, and your cramps should ease up.

RELATED: Doing This Once A Week Will Cure Your Period Pain

This article originally appeared on Women’s Health.

Recommended to you

8 Of The Best Exercise Shorts That Will Power You Through A Summer Of Movement

It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 

Nagnata

Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.defineSlot(gamData.adUnit, [300, 250], 'gam_midarticle_pos2_3') .defineSizeMapping(gamData.sizeMap.midarticle) .setTargeting('pos', '2') .addService(googletag.pubads()); googletag.display('gam_midarticle_pos2_3'); });

New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 

Nike

Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

Few things are worse than heading out the door for a run and realising your shorts offer no pockets for those essentials you need. You’re left to hold your iPhone, keys, and anything else you might need in your sweaty palm. Thankfully, Naomi Osaka knows what we need when it comes to exercise shorts and these utility shorts from her collaboration with Nike offer all that and more with a relaxed fit and elastic waistband. 

Tracksmith

Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

Who said summer shorts have to be boring? Outdoor Voices brings fashion-forward style and playfulness to their collections with fun prints and exciting colours. We love the relay 3” shorts for their ultralight, quick-drying fabric that also happens to be made from recycled polyester. But more importantly, we love the print and Poppy Swirl is as good as it gets. There’s even a hidden pocket for your valuables, too. 

Lululemon

Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

These biker shorts from Spiritual Gangster move with you, thanks to a three-tiered compressive waistband that offers a flattering high waist that hugs you in all the right places, without proving constrictive. They offer medium compression but are built for all day comfort, and the colour is a true summer staple because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love tie-dye?