Three Questions to Ask Your OB-GYN About Painful Periods

If you are suffering from pain every month during your period, you’re not alone. Many women are affected by painful periods, and they can be annoying and disruptive to daily life.

In many cases, this pain is normal, but if it is so bad that you are missing work, school, regular activities or cannot get out of bed, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. Here are a few questions to be prepared to ask your OB-GYN so you can get the information you need.

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1. Is my pain abnormal?

Usually, period pain is caused by primary dysmenorrhea. This is known as menstrual cramps and is completely normal. This condition often begins in the teenage years and becomes less frequent in adulthood.

Your pain may be so severe that it impedes your everyday life and prevents you from going to work or school. In this case it may be caused by secondary dysmenorrhea. This means that there is an underlying cause of the pain that may need further treatment. Often it is a disorder in the reproductive organs.

2. What could be causing the pain?

If primary dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramping) is to blame, it is caused by an excess of prostaglandins. These are hormones that control the female reproductive system. As many as 50% of women who menstruate suffer from this condition.

If the problem is secondary dysmenorrhea (something other than menstrual cramps), the pain could be caused by a number of disorders:

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is caused when tissue like the kind that grows inside your uterus grows outside the uterus. It could be growing on the outer wall of the uterus, on the ovaries, or elsewhere in the pelvic region. This tissue sheds every month just like the wall of the uterus, causing symptoms such as severe pelvic and urinary pain, infertility, and excessive bleeding.

Adenomyosis

Another possible disorder is adenomyosis. This condition is caused when tissue that normally grows on the walls of the uterus grows in the muscle of the uterus. Possible symptoms of adenomyosis include heavy bleeding or bleeding between periods, passing blood clots, and sharp, knife-like pelvic pain.

Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids could be another cause of secondary dysmenorrhea. Fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow on the inner wall of the uterus and can cause period pain and heavy bleeding. Some other symptoms include urinary incontinence, an enlarged abdomen, and anemia.

3. How can the pain be treated?

Primary dysmenorrhea can usually be treated with anti-inflammatory medicine such as Ibuprofen. Sometimes exercising or using a heating pad also helps. If the pain still persists, your doctor can subscribe birth control pills. These can decrease the amount of prostaglandins in the body.

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Depending on the cause of secondary dysmenorrhea, there will be a number of options. Endometriosis and adenomyosis can often be treated with birth control pills. In extreme cases, surgery may be required.

Uterine fibroids can be treated with a procedure called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). This minimally-invasive treatment involves cutting off the blood supply to the tumors. UFE is done as an outpatient procedure, meaning you will be able to go home the same day you are treated.

If you are still in pain after trying treatments for dysmenorrhea, surgery may be needed. A hysterectomy or myomectomy is usually performed as a last resort. These surgeries result in the removal or partial removal of the uterus.

More information

Contact your doctor if you are experiencing severe pain, heavy bleeding, fever, bleeding between periods, or pain that lasts more than a few days.

Visit our website for more information on uterine fibroid embolization and find out if it could be right for you.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

What to Watch For the Week After Your UFE Procedure

It’s scary enough to find out that you have tumors in the muscular lining of your uterus, also known as uterine fibroids. But taking the step to undergo a procedure to get rid of them can be even scarier.

The good news is that uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is available and a large majority of women have been satisfied with their treatment. However, it is still important to know what to expect going in and how long it might take to recover and take your life back.

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What is UFE?

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow in or on the muscle tissue of the uterus. They can cause many problems for women that are affected, including heavy menstrual bleeding, extreme pelvic pain, and loss of bladder control. In the past, these tumors could only be removed through major surgeries.

However, there is now a treatment called uterine fibroid embolization. This is a minimally invasive procedure that involves cutting off the blood supply to the tumors. It is performed by an interventional radiologist (IR), who inserts a small tube into the uterine artery through a small incision near the groin. He or she then injects particles into the artery to block the blood supply, causing the tumor to shrink and die.

UFE is an outpatient procedure, so you will be able to go home that day and will not have to spend the night. Typically, recovery time is around one week to 14 days.

What can I expect after my treatment?

You will stay in patient recovery for up to 24 hours, depending on how you are feeling and when your IR gives you the okay to go home. Your doctor will prescribe you some medications to deal with the pain resulting from the surgery.

Together, your IR and gynecologist will give you a set of discharge instructions that will tell you everything you need to know after your procedure. These instructions will include what medications you can take based on how you are feeling. They will also have numbers for who you can call if you have questions and information on when you can return to normal activity.

What should I look out for that week?

There are a few symptoms that may affect you the week after UFE:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping. You may feel cramps, similar to what you would feel while on your period, for a few days following the procedure. Your doctor may prescribe you medication to help with this.
  • Fever. Some patients experience a fever after UFE and it is usually treated with medication.
  • Nausea. If you experience any nausea, let your doctor know so your medications can be adjusted.
  • Post Embolization Syndrome. This entails having flu-like symptoms, a feeling of discomfort, and mild nausea. It can happen anywhere from a few hours to a few days after your procedure.

If you experience any symptoms that seem unmanageable or irregular, let your IR know.

Your doctor will schedule post-procedure appointments to check on your recovery and address any concerns you may have. Normally, you will have an appointment one week after your treatment and another one three months later.

Learn more

Still have questions about fibroids and UFE? Visit www.ask4ufe.com for more information. To find an IR in your area that can perform the UFE procedure, use our find a physician tool. All you need to provide is your zip code and then a qualified doctor will contact you.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.