No, we didn’t sign up to the Bad Cramps Club, either.
But for lots of us, painful period cramps show up as a mandatory add-on to our monthlies.
These cramps are usually caused when the muscles of your uterus tighten, due to hormonal signals.
Now, if it’s at an intensity that makes you want to hug a hot water bottle and binge-watch a series for a couple of hours, that’s not exactly fun, but it’s pretty normal.
But if the pain is seriously cramping your style, affecting your daily activities, and making you want to reach out for the painkillers more often not, you might be wondering: Is this normal?
And if not, are painful periods a sign of good fertility?
Or maybe not?
We get it.
Painful periods can make anyone question if things are fine in the egg-producing arena.
So let’s shed some more light on these monthly ughs.
In this article: 📝
- What do painful periods mean?
- What do heavy periods say about fertility?
- Are painful periods a sign of PCOS?
- Do painful periods mean infertility?
- Do period cramps mean high fertility?
- Why is my period more painful than usual?
- How to have painless periods
- Can painful periods affect fertility in the long term?
What do painful periods mean?
Painful period cramps (also called dysmenorrhea) are unfortunately a pretty common experience for many of us.
But did you know that there are two types of dysmenorrhea?
The first is aptly named primary dysmenorrhea, where the pain is due to the contraction of the uterus (imagine the muscles of the uterus tightening) as it sheds its lining.
The endometrium (inner lining) is what gets shed every month.
While some discomfort is normal with periods, excessive pain could be indicative of an underlying issue like endometriosis or fibroids.
This excessive pain is secondary dysmenorrhea — the type of period cramps that get in the way of you going about your daily routine.
If you think you have secondary dysmenorrhea, it’s best to reach out to your healthcare provider to work out a diagnosis and/or a solution.
What do heavy periods say about fertility?
Heavy periods (AKA menorrhagia, in science-speak), is when your period lasts for more than 5 days or you notice bleeding of 80ml or above.
For reference, a normal period lasts 1-5 days, with a blood loss of about 30-40ml.
But if it’s menorrhagia, it’s definitely something worth visiting the doctor about.
And for some people, menorrhagia is accompanied by our mortal enemy, dysmenorrhea (bad period pain).
But does it indicate infertility?
Well, it depends.
If the cause behind your heavy periods is hormonal imbalance, this can be treated with the right medication.
But if the underlying cause is a larger issue like adenomyosis, uterine polyps, rare bleeding disorders, or hyperthyroidism, it could affect your fertility in the long run.
It’s always best to rule out the cause behind heavy periods.
If it can affect your fertility, the earlier it’s addressed, the better.
Are painful periods a sign of PCOS?
In a word, maybe.
But here’s the thing — not all people with painful periods have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).
Ultimately, it comes down to you and your symptoms.
Knowing this can help you differentiate between PCOS-related painful periods and primary dysmenorrhea (painful periods caused due to hormonal imbalance).
Do painful periods mean infertility?
Well, there’s no direct correlation between painful periods and infertility.
But it’s more about the causes of these painful periods, that may indicate infertility.
Or something like endometriosis could be muddying the waters.
Endometriosis is a condition where the inner lining of the uterus grows beyond, and extends to the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
This is a type of secondary dysmenorrhea.
Endometriosis can cause painful periods and infertility.
If this is case, painful periods aren’t the main cause of infertility, but a symptom of the underlying culprit: endometriosis.
So it’s best to debunk the cause behind your painful periods to figure out whether they affect your fertility or not.
Do period cramps mean high fertility?
No, period cramps do not necessarily mean you’re extra fertile.
Your period pain could be the result of a normal menstrual cycle, or there are times when it could be a little heavier than usual.
But the fact that there are cramps doesn’t indicate high fertility, contrary to those popular myths!
Cramps originate from either pelvic pain, hormonal changes, or just the natural contractions of the uterus during the menstrual cycle.
And all of these? Sadly, not an indicator of high fertility.
Do regular periods mean good fertility?
The good news is, that regular periods mean that you are ovulating well and on time, for every cycle.
The tough part? That alone doesn’t indicate good fertility.
That’s because there are lots of other factors at play when it comes to your fertility — your hormones, ovarian reserve, age, and the presence or absence of any underlying issues.
Ultimately, it’s a mix of factors that decide good fertility, apart from just regular periods.
Why is my period more painful than usual?
If your period is more painful than usual, then it’s likely that there are a few different reasons why.
Maybe you were more stressed out this month.
Maybe you caught a sickness bug.
Maybe you ate something that doesn’t agree with you.
Maybe you didn’t sleep well around your period.
Even underlying medical conditions (shout out to endo and PCOS again) could affect your period cramps for the month.
So it’s best to keep an eye out for the intensity of period pain each month.
If you see a consistent increase in pain over time, reach out to your healthcare provider.
How to have painless periods
Isn’t that just the dream? 😭
We get it.
Period pains make you want to just cuddle up with your favorite blanket or take painkillers to alleviate the pain.
But there are a few things that you can try during your period, and throughout the month to lessen period pain, like:
- Eat a diet high in antioxidants — nuts, seeds, high-fiber vegetables, etc.
- Try to steer clear of inflammatory foods, like junk foods — or just cut down on them a bit.
- Take multivitamins (based on blood tests and doctor’s approvals, of course — you don’t want to be dosing up on something your body’s already great at metabolizing).
- Stay hydrated — it can help prevent bloating during periods by flushing out water retention.
- Drink warm water, herbal tea, and nutrition-packed soups — the warmth helps increase blood flow and may relax cramping muscles.
- Try gentle exercises like walking and yoga can help release endorphins and help relieve the stress and tension, which can cause pain during periods.
- Avoid (or cut down on) caffeine — coffee narrows down blood vessels, which can increase water retention and bloating.
- Get plenty of sleep — around 7-9 hours, generally.
And there may be some cases where a painkiller is your go-to choice, if the cramps are getting super crampy.
That’s okay, but it’s important to make a note of the intensity over time.
If the intensity of the pain doesn’t lessen with the pills, it’s worth speaking to your healthcare provider.
If your game plan is to reduce period pain in the long term, smaller goals could help here, too — lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments, and relaxation techniques.
But important to remember: every body is unique, and some of these might work for you, and some might not.
Yep, it’s trial and error.
Over time, you can try these techniques, to know which ones help make your period more manageable.
Can painful periods affect fertility in the long term?
No, painful periods don’t affect your fertility in the long term, if there’s no underlying issue.
But if your painful periods are due to conditions like endometriosis, adenomyosis, or fibroids, they can affect fertility.
The only way to know is to regularly monitor, and check for persistent, intense pain as a symptom.
If the pain worsens over time or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, timely medical attention is key.
This way, the issue can be addressed at the earliest, avoiding or minimizing the effect on your fertility in the long term.
Painful periods or not, fertility is a complex thing.
There’s no one indicator of good fertility, but rather a mix of indicators.
Among these, is period pain that’s normal, as long as it’s not too painful.
But if painful periods are something you’re familiar with, it’s worth going down the route of diagnosis, with tests that address and resolve the underlying issue.
Keep an eye out for any prolonged or extreme period pain, keep track of your menstrual cycle, and note any symptoms as they happen.
Painful periods could be your body’s way of telling you hey, there might be an issue here.
Navigating period pain isn’t always easy.
But if you want to talk to other women who get it, with tips to reduce pain, personal stories, or simply moral support and a listening ear, you’re always welcome to join us on Peanut.
You’re not alone in this.