Navigating Why Do Periods Hurt With Intense and Crippling Pain?

Aarohi Batra
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Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
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why do periods hurt

Menstruation is a biological phenomenon that women tend to experience every month.

It can be a rollercoaster ride of hormone fluctuations, causing mood swings, fatigue, and irritation.

However, it often accompanies unbearable intense cramps and pain for many women.

But why do periods hurt some women more than others?

This article will cover aspects of a woman’s period life and uncover the reason behind crippling pains during periods.

You will also gain an insight into the hormonal changes in women’s bodies and safe self-care tips to lessen the period pain.

So, let’s delve into the topic and learn more in-depth.

Why do periods hurt so bad

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, more than half of women face painful periods for 1 or 2 days each month.

However, for some women, the pain is so severe and intense that it hinders them from doing their daily activities.

The medical term for the painful menstrual cycle is Dysmenorrhea, and there are two types of the condition: 

  • Primary Dysmenorrhea
  • Secondary Dysmenorrhea

Let’s discuss them in detail to understand the cause of your pain.

Primary Dysmenorrhea

Primary Dysmenorrhea is a period of pain that comes before and during menstruation.

The pain is caused due to natural hormone-like lipids called Prostaglandin.

Prostaglandin causes muscular contractions in the uterus.

Prostaglandin is high on the first few days of the menstrual cycle and causes intense pain.

As the bleeding continues with the shedding of the uterus lining, the Prostaglandin level naturally decreases and lessens pain.

In some women, period pain becomes less severe as they age. The period pain can also be relieved in women after giving birth.

Further, periods can result in intense pain and cramps in women’s bodies and affect the body parts, causing pain as:


pms headacheSource: Md_Ariful_Islam_from_Getty_Images

According to the National Migraine Center, more than half of the women notice a link between their periods and headaches.

This condition is called menstrual migraine and can be severe.

The menstrual migraine can start before the two days leading up to a menstrual cycle and during the first three days of the period.

Migraine during periods can be triggered by a drop in Estrogen levels during the menstrual cycle.

Moreover, studies have shown that some women may be susceptible to the effect of the hormone Prostaglandin, which can cause severe headaches. 

Breast pain

Breast pain associated with hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle is called cyclic Mastalgia.

According to NCBI, cyclic breast pain occurs more in young women and resolves on its own.

Some research suggests that some people with this condition have lesser levels of Progesterone than Estrogen during the second half of the menstrual cycle.

Abdominal and lower back pain

Prostaglandin causes severe abdominal and lower back pain in women during periods.

According to a 2014 report on 156 women, almost 55% experienced abdominal pain during their periods.

During periods, heavy contractions in the uterus can cause pain, as the pain radiates from the lower back to abdominal pain.

You should consult your doctor and administer prescribed pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen, to relieve this intense pain.

Secondary Dysmenorrhea

Secondary Dysmenorrhea occurs later in a woman’s life and is often caused due to disorders in the reproductive system.

Some other secondary causes of painful periods are as follows:


It is a condition in which tissue similar to endometrium grows outside the uterus, affecting the abdominal and pelvic area.

It causes pain in the lower abdomen.

According to the World Health Organization, Endometriosis causes severe pain, especially during the menstrual cycle.

Pain due to Endometriosis can get unbearable:
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There is uncertainty about the main cause of Adenomyosis.

However, this condition can certainly lead to severe and sharp pain in the pelvic region.

Adenomyosis is a condition in which the endometrial tissue grows into the uterus’s muscular wall (myometrium).

Uterine Fibroids

These are tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus.

Uterine Fibroids can also cause intense pain during periods accompanied by heavy menstrual bleeding.

Cervical Stenosis

It is a condition that causes the narrowing of the cervix.

Generally, this condition is asymptomatic but can show signs such as Dysmenorrhea.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic painSource: gokgakphotos_from_gokgakphotos
Pelvic pain

PID often results in painful periods due to scars in the endometrial and abdominal cavities.

Women with PID may suffer from intense pain in the abdominal and pelvic region.

Intense pain during periods can be an indication of a severe condition. It should not be mistaken for a menstrual irregularity. Consult your doctor and seek medical treatment to find the underlying cause.


Intense and unbearable pain during periods is uncommon and can be caused due to several conditions.

The medical term for painful periods is Dysmenorrhea; there are two types: primary and secondary.

Primary Dysmenorrhea is a pain that comes before and during the menstrual cycle and can lead to headaches, breast pain, and pain in the body’s abdominal and lower back regions.

On the other hand, Secondary Dysmenorrhea is a condition that occurs due to disorders in the reproductive system and needs medical treatment.

This type of pain can occur due to Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, Uterine Fibroids, Cervical Stenosis, and Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases.

Knowing the underlying causes of your menstrual pain is crucial, as it can lead to severe complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why periods are so painful?

The pain during the periods is caused by the release of hormone-like lipids called Prostaglandin. It causes contraction in the uterus (often required for shedding the endometrium), which causes intense pain in the lower and abdominal region. Prostaglandin is high during the initial days of periods and causes pain.

Is period pain good or bad?

Period cramps and pain during your menstrual cycle are common and occur due to the high release of Prostaglandin during the initial menstruation days. However, if your pain is severe and unbearable, you should consult your doctor to find its underlying cause.

What type of pain can I feel during my periods?

You can feel mild to severe headaches, breast pain, and lower abdomen and back pain. The pain is caused due to Prostaglandin, and its level remains high during the initial days of your cycle. However, you should consult your doctor to know the reason behind your pain to avoid complications.

Why do periods hurt so much on the first day?

During the first day of your period, the level of Prostaglandin is high and causes intense pain. As the bleeding continues with the shedding of the uterus lining, its level decreases and lessens the pain. However, you should consult your doctor and know the reason behind it.

Why do some periods hurt more than others?

Your periods may hurt you more than others because of a high level of Prostaglandin that causes pain during periods. However, severe pain can indicate an underlying complicated condition and may need medical supervision. Therefore, you should consult your doctor and seek treatment.

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