WUKA experts discuss why some women experience period pain with no period and how to relieve period pain when no period is apparent.
Why do I have period pain but no period?
Ever experienced those familiar dull, aching cramps at weird stages during your cycle? You’re days or even weeks away from your period, yet your tummy is cramping and if you didn’t know any better you’d swear your period was on the way…
You’re not alone. And in fact, there are many reasons why this could be happening.
Ovulation takes place around the middle of your cycle - usually around day 14, two weeks after the start of your period. During this phase, an egg is released by the ovaries to travel down the fallopian tube for fertilisation.
If no pregnancy occurs, the egg is reabsorbed into the body and eventually shed along with the uterus lining and other tissues and fluid, as part of your period.
Some women experience tummy cramps and bloating during ovulation. Its thought that this could be down to both the change in hormone levels and by the egg breaking through the ovary as it starts its journey down the fallopian tubes.
Most women experience mild ovulation pains, and lots don’t notice them at all. If you find that you regularly feel pain during ovulation, and its interfering with your usual activities, make an appointment to discuss this with your GP.
Lots of changes happen during pregnancy; some women experience cramps in the abdomen and lower back, especially in the early stages. Try not to panic. In most cases, period cramp type pain isn’t a cause for concern.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’re pregnant, take a test to rule it out.
Ovarian cysts are common and most will go away on their own without treatment. A lot of women don’t experience any symptoms either, but in some cases you might feel period pain type cramps in the abdomen.
Ovarian cysts only really cause an issue if they rupture, or if they grow so large that they block the blood supply to the ovaries. If this happens, you might experience the following symptoms:
- Pelvic pain- ranging from a dull, heavy pain in the pelvis, to more sudden and sharp pains
- Cramps in the abdomen- much like period pains
- Pain during sex
- Pain and difficulty with bowel movements
- Feeling the need to pee more often
- Heavy periods
- Irregular periods
- Bloated tummy
- Problems conceiving
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, your doctor can refer you for a scan to determine whether or not you have a cyst that might need treatment. Your doctor might also arrange for blood tests to be done to rule out cancer.
Bear in mind that in most cases, these symptoms can be a sign of other, less serious conditions- but its always better to get them checked out as soon as possible. Find out more about ovarian cancer from the NHS.
Constipation is really common, affecting all people of all ages. You’re constipated if you’ve not been to the loo for at least three days, and when you do go, your poo is hard and difficult to pass. It’s not pleasant!
Constipation can cause a range of symptoms, including tummy pain that can feel a lot like period cramps. If you suspect you might be constipated, try some home remedies to get things moving along again:
- Stay hydrated- drinking plenty of water can help to make your bowel movements softer and easier to pass.
- Eat plenty of fibre- this will help to aid digestions and keep your bowel movements regular.
- Avoid alcohol and excess sugary, salty processed foods. What you eat is important; if your diet could do with some improvements, it could make all the difference to your toilet habits.
- Take regular exercise
- Avoid stress
- Use the loo when you feel the urge
If these natural remedies don’t work, speak to a pharmacist about over the counter medications that could help.
Stress can be a major reason for tummy pain and can even slow down digestion, causing constipation and bloating. The NHS advise that reducing stress can help to keep symptoms such as period cramps at bay, and if you’re experiencing tummy cramps at other times during your cycle too, then taking steps to alleviate stress will be hugely beneficial.
Try mediation, yoga, or other acts of self care that you know will help you to relax.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome is a really common condition that affects the digestive system, and can be another major cause for period pain without a period. According to the NHS, IBS can be a lifelong condition, so its important to know how to manage your symptoms.
Symptoms such as stomach cramps, bloating, excess gas and constipation can be helped with lifestyle changes. Take care to eliminate foods from your diet which you know can trigger an IBS flare up. When you eat, take your time and try to eliminate stress as much as you can.
Perimenopause is the period of time leading up to the menopause. Its a transition period, during which time your body is undergoing lots of changes as it prepares for a new chapter in your life. Lots of women experience abdominal cramps similar to period pains during this time, often caused by erratic hormones- particularly oestrogen.
When levels of oestrogen rise, the result can be period cramps, sore breasts and other PMS symptoms- along with a period, in lots of cases.
Speak to your doctor if you’re experiencing periods cramps and/ or bleeding after the menopause.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a medical condition that can cause a range of symptoms, including irregular periods, heavy periods and intense period pains. Because PCOS can cause irregular periods, some women experience painful cramps at other times during their cycle, without actually bleeding.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease occurs when an infection spreads from the vagina or cervix to the reproductive organs- the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes. One of the symptoms of PID is pain in the lower abdomen, which can feel a lot like very intense period pain.
PID should always be treated as quickly as possible, as leaving it can lead to complications such as infertility.
- Pain in the lower abdomen and pelvis
- Pain during sex
- Pain when using the loo
- Heavy and painful periods
- Change to vaginal discharge- especially if its strong smelling , yellow/ green and thick
Speak to your doctor if you experience symptoms and you suspect you may have PID.
Endometriosis occurs when the tissues usually found in the uterus grow elsewhere in the body, such as the ovaries or fallopian tubes. This can cause very painful periods, and some women also experience cramps at other times during their cycle too. These pains intensify during your period, but can be present even when you’re not bleeding too.
Other symptoms include:
- Abdominal and pelvic pain
- Intense period pain
- Pain during sex
- Pain using the loo
- Blood in your pee or poo when you’re on your period
Discuss your symptoms with your doctor if you suspect endometriosis.
Change of medication
Some medications may also cause abdominal cramps that feel like period pains. These pains should subside after a few days, but seek to your doctor if you’re concerned.
Very rarely, period pain without a period can indicate a more serious medical condition, such as ovarian cancer. The symptoms to look out for include:
- Feeling bloated
- Pain and tenderness in the abdomen and pelvic area
- Loss of appetite, along with feeling full quite soon after eating only a small amount
- Frequent urination
Some women also report indigestion, changes in bowel movements (diarrhoea or constipation), fatigue, weight loss, back pain and bleeding after the menopause. If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms for more than 12 months, make an appointment to see your doctor straight away.
How to relieve period pain with no period
There are also some natural remedies that you can try, but speak to your doctor before you do, especially if you’re currently taking medication. Gentle exercise can also help, but listen to your body and know when to rest too.
What can I do to stop having period pains?
Depending on the reason why you’re experiencing period pains without a period, there are steps you can take to prevent them occurring. Try to maintain a healthy and balanced diet so that your digestive system isn’t under too much pressure and avoid foods that can make the pain worse.
Gentle exercise can help, and reducing stress is also very beneficial. If you’re still experiencing pain despite trying preventative measures, make an appointment to see you doctor to find out what could be happening.
Why do periods hurt?
During your menstrual cycle, the body prepares for a pregnancy by thickening the lining of the uterus, ready for a fertilised egg to implant. If no pregnancy occurs, the uterus lining begins to break down, and the uterus contracts to help expel the unwanted cells and tissues. The contraptions squeeze the blood vessels in the uterus, temporarily cutting off the blood supply, causing chemicals to be released which trigger a pain response.
Period pain is the result of these contractions, and the subsequent pain response that’s triggered with each contraction. But the contractions are essential, as they help the body to shed the old uterus lining and unfertilised egg, ready for the next cycle to begin.
Do periods get worse with age?
Lots of women experience a change in their periods as they get older and approach menopause. Some perimenopause symptoms include heavier bleeding and more painful periods, as hormone levels fluctuate more erratically.
Some women also experience lighter periods and less intense period cramps as they age too.
Why do periods hurt so much on the first day?
The first one or two days of your period are likely to be the most heavy, and most painful due to the intense contractions that are taking place to shed the old uterus lining. As the body produces prostaglandins, more contractions are triggered and therefore more chemicals are released which trigger a pain response.
As your cycle progresses and the uterus lining is shed, the contractions slow down and the pains tend to ease off naturally. For most, period pain lasts around 2-3 days at most