Why are PCOS cramps so painful?


The discomfort and cramps that come with menstrual cycles are well known to most women. Period discomfort, might vary widely depending on the individual. During the menstrual cycle each month, some women endure mild discomfort that is manageable, while others experience pain severe enough to interfere with daily activities (1 in 4 women). Menstrual cramps, while normal, can be an indication of a more serious underlying illness, especially if it is severe on a regular basis.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition that affects a large number of women of reproductive age. is a hormonal imbalance that can impact women in a variety of ways. It has an effect on the skin, hair growth, fertility, menstruation, and other aspects of life. Despite the fact that PCOS is a very common illness, the many symptoms can make it difficult to identify, leading to up to 70% of women with PCOS being misdiagnosed.


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Why are cramps caused by PCOS so painful?

To answer this, you need to first understand what PCOS is and how it affects a woman’s body. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a hormonal disease that affects 12 to 21 percent of reproductive-age women. PCOS is a disorder in which the ovaries generate an excessive quantity of androgens, male sex hormones that are normally present in minimal levels in women. The term polycystic ovarian syndrome refers to a condition in which the ovary develops a large number of tiny cysts (fluid-filled sacs).

It has a range of effects on women. It has an impact on the skin, hair growth, fertility, menstruation, and other aspects of life. Hair loss, ovarian cysts, chronic tiredness, and changes in a woman's menstrual cycle are among the symptoms of PCOS. PCOS patients have high amounts of androgens (male hormones) and low estrogen levels (a female hormone). However, some women with this disease do not develop cysts, whereas others who do not have the disorder do.

The primary reason why PCOS cramps are so painful is because of the common underlying symptom among PCOS patients, that is, pelvic pain which resembles menstrual cramps. It is described as pain in the lower abdomen, right above the pelvic bone, that is dull or throbbing. There are two forms of pain: spasmodic and congestive. Spasmodic pain is more severe, with cramping or a defined "stabbing" feeling in the lower abdomen that comes and goes in waves; congestive pain is a more constant dull aching.

PCOS causes painful periods

PCOS causes irregular periods in certain women, which can be infrequent and/or extensive. Women with PCOS typically have excessive bleeding, clots, and significant period pain when they have their period. Symptoms such as period pain will worsen as PCOS progresses. Weight gain, fatigue, painful intercourse, excess facial and body hair development, acne, male-pattern baldness, ovarian cysts, and infertility are all signs of PCOS.

The contractions in your uterus produce discomfort. The muscular wall of your uterus tightens during your period so that it may lose its lining, the endometrium, which exits your body through the vaginal canal. Strong contractions are considered to produce discomfort by interfering with the uterus' blood flow. When the uterus contracts aggressively, it can press against blood arteries, temporarily interrupting blood flow. The oxygen supply is also shut off when there is no blood flow. The tissues of the uterus also produce chemicals that cause discomfort when they are deprived of oxygen. This is the normal period cramps and is called “dysmenorrhea”. 

However, in the case of PCOS these cramps are severe attributing to the condition. Heavy bleeding and clots occur, as well as significant period pain. The reasons why PCOS cramps are painful:

  1. Periods are consistently irregular

It's common to miss a period now and then, but if they're frequently late or non-existent, PCOS might be to blame. Many women will have irregular periods at some point in their lives (Dr. Garcia-Faura). In many situations, irregular periods aren't a sign of PCOS because they can be caused by a variety of reasons such as changing hormones (especially during adolescence and pre-menopause), weight gain or loss, stress, over-exercising, or contraceptive prescription. However, if you don't get your period every month or it comes at different times each month, this might be a symptom of PCOS.

  1. Flow changes from heavy to light

Many individuals believe that a 'irregular period' occurs when a period is late or early. However, a 'irregular period' can also refer to a very light or heavy menstrual flow, a missing period, an inconsistent cycle, severe cramps, bloating, or nausea. Because women with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance that affects ovulation and hence menstruation, menstrual abnormalities are frequently linked with the disease. Menstruation will be different for everyone with PCOS, therefore it's essential to be aware of the irregularities you may be experiencing month to month.

  1. During periods, the symptoms are painful

PCOS can cause painful periods. PCOS is characterised by immature follicles that develop on the ovaries, resulting in a hormonal imbalance. Periods may be quite uncomfortable due to this hormonal imbalance, which can cause cramping and bloating. "Uncomfortable and unpleasant menstruation" is frequently exxperienced by women with PCOS. PCOS is associated with painful periods. If you're having pelvic discomfort during or between periods, it's critical to figure out what's causing it. There are several alternatives for treating the underlying illness and managing your symptoms so you don't have to suffer any longer.

  1. Struggles with getting pregnant

It's because irregular periods are a "indicator of an underlying reproductive issue" for those with PCOS. PCOS is linked to a hormonal imbalance that impairs ovulation, making it harder for women with the illness to conceive.

  1. Very heavy periods

During their menstrual cycle, women with PCOS may experience heavier bleeding. Menorrhagia is the medical term for this condition, which is caused by low progesterone levels linked to PCOS. Menorrhagia is characterised by heavy bleeding that lasts at least seven days. During a normal period, the average blood loss is 40-40ml. Menorrhagia causes women to lose more than 80 millilitres of blood every period, as well as clotting. While periods tend to be heavier in adolescence, excessively heavy periods may indicate an underlying problem that should be addressed.

  1. Other unusual symptoms

The presence of irregular periods isn't the only sign that you could have PCOS. Weight gain, hair loss on the head, excessive hair growth on the rest of the body (such as chin hair), and acne are some of the other symptoms. The hormonal abnormalities that PCOS patients experience produce these symptoms. While these symptoms can be suggestive of other illnesses, if you have irregular periods in addition to one of the above, it might be an indication of PCOS.

Period discomfort, cramps, and bloating can be caused by hormonal abnormalities induced by PCOS. PCOS, on the other hand, produces irregular periods, thus one may have severe cramps without actually bleeding, leading to confusion.

If your period discomfort is interfering with your everyday life on a monthly basis, you should consult your doctor. They can tell if your period discomfort is secondary or primary dysmenorrhea. PCOS is managed with hormonal birth control and pain relievers, although it may require further therapy such as other medicines or surgery. Each woman's anatomy is different. The above-mentioned menstruation symptoms aren't always indicative of PCOS, although they can be. The only way to be sure is to consult with a woman's health professional. If you're concerned, see a doctor or qualified expert, as previously stated.They'll be able to advise you on the best course of action.

Sources:

https://www.raleighob.com/painful-periods-when-to-see-your-gynecologist/
https://www.naturesbest.co.uk/pharmacy/polycystic-ovary-syndrome/understanding-your-period-pain-is-it-a-sign-of-pcos/
https://www.northsidegynaecology.com.au/what-are-periods-like-when-you-have-pcos/
https://kaldascenter.com/blog/why-do-i-get-cramps-without-a-period



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