Most women expect to experience some lower abdominal discomfort when they menstruate, but many discover their backs ache, too, when the cardinal flies into town. What is up with suffering periodic pain in more than one part of the body? Why do periods hurt your back, and what can you do to remedy this condition?
Multiple factors contribute to the agony many women feel in their backs when they menstruate. Some women with mild pain alleviate their suffering through over-the-counter medications. However, since many menstrual difficulties can stem from an underlying disorder, women who find themselves debilitated monthly benefit from a trip to the gynecologist.
Why Do Periods Hurt Your Back — Not Just Your Abdomen?
Back pain during menstruation can result from a multitude of causes. One reason many women experience this phenomenon results from what medical practitioners call referred pain.
Referred pain occurs when injury or disease of one body part causes people to ache in other areas. The most classic example of referred pain is how many people who suffer heart attacks experience pain and clenching in their jaw as an early warning sign. When women ask, “Why do periods hurt your back?” referred pain provides the answer much of the time — after all, your back is much closer to your uterus than the mandible is to the heart.
Women suffering from various immune system disorders such as ulcerative colitis and certain forms of arthritis often find menstruation increases the severity of their symptoms, including lower back pain. Many medical professionals believe this also results from a process similar to referral pain — the physical stress of menstruation can trigger the immune system to attack the body in earnest, leading to severe flares.
Some women with dysmenorrhea, or excruciating periods, find their pain radiates even further from the uterus than the lower back. Some find the discomfort radiates down their legs as well. They may experience nausea and vomiting, and some black out from the distress.
Although the uterus normally tilts toward the abdominal wall, some women have a slightly different configuration down below. A retroverted uterus occurs when the organ tilts backward toward the spine. Although having a retroverted uterus can cause back pain, as well as discomfort during sex when her partner’s penis hits her cervix, the condition does not increase the risk of infertility.
Women suffering from disorders like fibromyalgia and migraines often find their symptoms increase when they get their periods. Many with these disorders already face misunderstanding from friends, family and employers who accuse them of exaggerating symptoms to get out of obligations. When coupled with the secrecy many women feel when discussing their period, these folks endure a double whammy of agony month after month.
Women experiencing severe back pain during their period do well to book an appointment with their primary care provider or gynecologist. Sometimes, an underlying disorder is causing the ache, and treating it brings sufferers relief.
Uterine fibroids, growths which impact the lining of the uterus, can exacerbate back pain during menstruation. Women with this condition often have particularly heavy periods, and because fibroids may lead to infertility, early treatment gives women the best chances of conceiving in the future.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) usually stems from a sexually transmitted disease and may impact a woman’s future chances of getting pregnant. Fortunately, treating PID usually involves little more than a course of antibiotics.
Endometriosis, a condition in which uterine tissue grows on organs other than the womb, can also cause back pain, especially during menstruation. Most women with this disorder respond well to treatment. Scarring from delaying care may render a woman infertile, so those who suspect endometriosis as the culprit benefit from seeing a doctor immediately.
Tips for Managing Back Pain During Menstruation
Depending on the severity of the pain, women have several treatment options when it comes to alleviating it. Those with an underlying health condition often find the aching subsides after receiving care. Those who cannot pinpoint a precise answer to the question “Why do periods hurt your back?” can enjoy relief nevertheless.
Working out may be the last thing a woman suffering from periodic back pain wants to do, but some forms of exercise can alleviate the ache. For example, many women swear by certain yoga poses, such as child’s pose, to ease their discomfort.
Some women discover eliminating certain foods from their diets or adding other foods to it makes the monthly bear return to hibernation. Many foods that fight inflammation also assuage menstrual pain, regardless of where a woman feels it.
Women have long used hot water bottles to ease cramps. Heat can alleviate back pain, too, so lying on a heating pad or taking a hot bath can make symptoms easier to bear.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Motrin and Advil do help many women kick their pain levels down a few notches. Those who also suffer certain stomach conditions like ulcers do well to exercise care when taking these medications, as they can intensify irritation in this organ.
Making Periods Free of Back Pain
The reproductive years of a woman’s life can prove a misery if she suffers from menstrual pain. Why continue to suffer in silence? Talk to a health care professional about the back pain you experience during menstruation, and take measures to treat it to reclaim a full week out of every month.