Painful periods, known medically as dysmenorrhea, affect millions of women and can have a major impact on your daily life. For some women, the pain is severe enough that it leads to missed work and school days, canceled social plans, and problems taking care of your regular responsibilities.
If period pain is limiting your daily activities, it’s time to discuss it with a health care provider. Board-certified OB/GYN Lillian Schapiro, MD, and the team of compassionate women’s health providers at Ideal Gynecology aim to help women and girls thrive through comprehensive health and wellness care. Our providers diagnose and treat a full range of women’s issues, including painful periods. Keep reading to learn how birth control can help you get relief from period pain.
What causes painful periods?
Up to 90% of women experience some level of period pain. If you’re in the group that experiences severe period pain, it’s wise to discuss options to manage your symptoms.
Prostaglandins are a group of inflammatory compounds that play a role in painful periods. These are natural compounds produced by cells in the inner lining of the uterus and other parts of the body.
When the uterus secretes prostaglandins, the uterine muscles contract. This helps to remove the built-up uterine lining. If this did not happen, the uterine lining would become too thick. Painful periods can happen if your uterus produces too much prostaglandin.
Noncontraceptive use of birth control
Birth control is helpful for more than preventing unwanted pregnancy. Hormonal contraceptives can be helpful in managing:
- Irregular periods
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Period pain
- Premenstrual syndrome
Hormonal birth control is also helpful in managing certain gynecological disorders linked to painful periods, such as:
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS),
Hormonal birth control is more effective at reducing period pain than over-the-counter pain relievers. Additionally, hormonal contraceptives typically make periods lighter and easier to manage.
Choosing hormonal birth control
Your Ideal Gynecology provider will discuss different options and help you choose the option that’s best for you. Hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs) are the most effective treatments for uncomfortable periods.
Nearly all women experience lighter and shorter periods with significant pain reduction because of IUDs, and many women stop having periods after just one year of usage. The longer you use it, the more likely you are to cease having your period.
During the time you use an IUD, your periods should be light or nonexistent. If you decide you want to become pregnant, your provider can remove the IUD, after which fertility returns.
Other options for birth control to manage painful periods include:
- Birth control pills: Oral pills taken daily.
- Vaginal ring: Small flexible device placed into the vagina once a month.
- Birth control patch: Delivers hormones through the skin. Typically worn on the stomach, upper arm, back, or buttocks once a week.
- IUD: Inserted while in the office. Releases the hormone progestin gradually.
The option that is right for you will depend on your personal health history, lifestyle, and tolerance to potential side effects.
Period pain doesn’t have to control your life. To discuss options for managing period pain, give our team a call at our Atlanta or McDonough office to schedule a visit with Dr. Schapiro.