If you suffer from painful periods, the thought of experiencing a hard time conceiving has most probably not crossed your mind. After all, it’s common for women to experience painful periods, especially in their teens, just after their period starts. However, if the period of pain gets worse later on in life, it could signify something more.
While menstruation can be naturally painful, it shouldn’t affect your daily life. And even though cramps do not affect your ability to conceive, the cause of that pain could affect your fertility. Such pain can be linked to problems in the uterus or other pelvic organs, further affecting your fertility and chances of conception. There are many factors causing fertility difficulties.
But if you’re trying for a baby and have painful periods, you need to inform yourself of the root of the issue to address the problem more swiftly. Read on to understand exactly how period pain affects fertility and how to address the specific problem.
What Causes Period Pain?
Prostaglandins cause cramps. These naturally-occurring chemicals can be found in tissues all over the body, including the uterus. According to Very Well Family, These chemicals control body temperature, cell growth, smooth muscle dilation and constriction, and inflammation. Also, they cause contraction of the uterine muscles, helping discharge the uterine lining during your period. Prostaglandins are also responsible for inducing labor contractions and delivery.
Excessively high prostaglandins levels can cause more intense uterine contractions, cutting off oxygen temporarily to muscle parts and causing painful periods. It’s common for teens to experience painful cramps because they have higher prostaglandins levels. But as one gets older, these chemical levels reduce, and so do the intensity of the cramps. Also, some women experience less painful periods after having a baby.
Period pain is medically referred to as dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is where period cramps are caused by the common activity of prostaglandins, and this kind of pain has no negative effect on your fertility. However, secondary dysmenorrhea is when period cramps are caused or exacerbated by other abnormalities or conditions of the reproductive system. And this type of painful cramps can be linked to having a hard time conceiving.
Medical Conditions That Cause Period Pain
Here are medical treatments that cause period pain and how to treat them:
Uterine fibroids are common noncancerous growths that develop in the uterus’ muscular wall. Someone can have one or multiple fibroids, ranging from tiny (0.25 inches) to bigger than a cantaloupe. They’re extremely common, with up to 75% of women developing one in their lifetime. However, most women are unaware of them because they exhibit no symptoms.
According to Mount Elizabeth, Doctors usually discover them “accidentally” during a pelvic exam or pregnancy ultrasound. Whether these noncancerous masses affect fertility normally depends on their location. For example, submucosal fibroids are more likely to affect your chances of conceiving since they can distort the uterus and interfere with the’s implantation. Also, they may cause prolonged bleeding and heavy, painful cramps. And in extreme cases, they can reduce fertility and increase the risk of miscarriage.
Treatment- Treatment is dependent on the underlying issues, as well as maternal age and desire to have babies. If a woman still wants to have kids, the doctor may perform conservative surgery to get rid of the fibroids while leaving the uterus and ovaries. Surgical procedures to remove fibroids include hysteroscopic myomectomy, laparoscopy, and laparotomy.
Non-surgical methods include:
- Medical treatments – Some medicines can treat fibroids, including progestins, oral contraceptives, etc.
- Uterine fibroid embolization– Doctors inject small particles inside the arteries of the uterus, cutting off blood flow to the fibroids, which causes them to shrink and die. Magnetic resonance-guided ultrasound- A radiologist uses MRI to see inside your body and destroy the fibroids using high-intensity focused ultrasound waves.
According to Self, Endometriosis affects 10% of women, and it occurs when the tissue that creates the lining of the uterus (endometrium) develops elsewhere in the body. The endometrium goes through the fallopian tubes and rises on top of various organs. It works the same way the rest of your endometrial tissue does so that you can experience cramping and bleeding. The growing tissue causes excessive pain for some women. It may also cause scar tissue to develop in the affected areas, leading to more pain and problems getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.
Even though endometriosis is normally under gynecologic problems, a less known relative known as adenomyosis causes identical issues. Here, the lining of the uterus starts to grow inside the muscle area of the uterus instead of remaining where it should. Adenomyosis, like endometriosis, can lead to extremely painful periods and affect fertility because it affects uterine function.
Treatment – Symptoms of endometriosis and adenomyosis can be treated with pain relievers, gonadotropin-releasing hormonal agonists, progesterone, and oral contraceptives. Doctors may also perform surgery to get rid of as much endometriosis as possible while your uterus and ovaries remain intact (conservative surgery), which increases conception of success chances. Other surgical procedures include laparoscopy, traditional abdominal surgery, or hysterectomy.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
This is another probable cause of painful cramps and is normally linked to untreated medical disease. PID is caused by an infection in the reproductive organs and can cause scar tissue formation. This scarring between the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries increases discomfort during a period and is the most common factor causing blocked fallopian tubes. Fortunately, PID can be diagnosed via a routine pelvic exam and is treated with antibiotics.
These fluid-filled sacs can develop in the ovaries as part of the follicle, which grows monthly with the egg. When the egg isn’t released (ovulation doesn’t happen) or the sac in which the egg grows doesn’t dissolve after egg release, they can develop cysts. Even though they’re normally benign, cysts have the potential to be cancerous. Most women will grow a cyst at least once in their lifetime, so it’s important to mention any pain or discomfort during a pelvic exam.
Ovarian cysts that can impact your fertility include endometriomas (cysts caused by endometriosis) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition caused by the accumulation of tiny cysts on your ovaries, high levels of some hormones, and irregular periods, all of which may cause future issues with fertility.
Treatment – most ovarian cysts disappear naturally. However, you’d have to go to the gynecologist regularly to confirm if you still have cysts. If you do, you can take contraceptive pills. They may reduce the pain by preventing ovulation and lowering the chances of new cysts forming. Also, the doctor may perform surgeries such as a laparoscopy or cystectomy to remove ovarian cysts.
Sources: Mount Elizabeth, Self, Very Well Family
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