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Menstrual Hygiene Day: Why Is It Harmful To Take Medicines For Period Pain?

Did you know that medicines to get relief from period cramps can also result in side effects? Read on to learn about this in detail.

Sushmita Sharma
Written by: Sushmita SharmaUpdated at: May 26, 2023 17:41 IST
Menstrual Hygiene Day: Why Is It Harmful To Take Medicines For Period Pain?

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Most of us have experienced throbbing or cramping pain during menstruation, which seems no less than a nightmare. To counter this, you may start taking painkillers, but did you notice it comes with various side effects?  Menstrual Hygiene Day, observed on May 28th every year, serves as an opportunity to raise awareness about menstrual health and hygiene. In this article, we will talk about dysmenorrhoea (period cramps) and the health risks associated with it.

Dr Nirmala M, Consultant Obstetrician, Gynaecologist & Fertility Specialist, Motherhood Hospitals, Whitefield, Bangalore, explained dysmenorrhoea and the side effects of taking medicines for period pain.


What Is Dysmenorrhoea?

Dr Nirmala said, "Many women experience period cramps, also known as dysmenorrhoea every month during or before the menstruation cycle. Dysmenorrhoea is a condition that is accompanied by symptoms, such as throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen, upper thighs, and stomach. These menstrual cramps occur when the uterus fails to shed its uterine lining resulting in contraction, which triggers pain and inflammation due to high levels of prostaglandins."

She added that the intensity of the period of pain varies from one individual to the other. While some experience mild discomfort, few experience severe cramps, which hampers their day-to-day activities, leaving them with no choice but to pop a painkiller to ease the pain. Although menstrual cramps can be extremely painful and severe, women should be aware of the side effects of painkillers on one’s health during the later stages. 

Also Read: Sex During Periods Is Safe But Does It Prevent Pregnancy? Dr Anjali Kumar Demystifies Menstrual Sex

What Do Painkillers Or Medicines Do?

Dr Nirmala said that medicines or painkillers aid in relaxing the muscles of the lower abdomen and help in providing relief during severe muscle contractions, cramps, bloating, and discomfort during the process of menstruation.

Why Is It Harmful To Take Medicines For Period Pain?

Dr Nirmala said that while these medicines provide relief and alleviate severe period pain, consumption of these medicines frequently can affect bodily functions and have adverse side effects in the long run, such as:


Dr Nirmala explained that periods are often accompanied by severe cramps, however, taking excessive painkillers can lead to constipation. These medicines contain opioids which slow down the bowel movement . As the bowel takes more water out, the stool hardens and dries up, which makes it difficult for the stool to pass through the body. 

Acid Reflux

Period medicines result in acid reflux because these painkillers increase acid production in the stomach and restrict the formation of prostaglandins, which helps protect the digestive tract.


Nausea And Vomiting

Another side effect of period pain medicine is experiencing nausea and vomiting. With excessive medications, one may feel nauseous, leading to vomiting. 

Irregular Heartbeat And Chest Contraction

Some pain relief medicines have the potential to make a person feel like their chest is constricting, along with symptoms of temporary irregular heartbeat. 

Dizziness And Drowsiness

Experiencing dizziness during menstruation is a common phenomenon but with strong medication, the feeling of dizziness is heightened along with a sudden drop in blood pressure and blood sugar which triggers dizziness.


Period poops might worsen with period relief medication as it upsets the stomach leading to diarrhoea.

Stomach Pain And Ulcers

Taking too many medicines while menstruating may result in the formation of an ulcer on the stomach or small intestine. This results in stomach pain, discomfort, and bleeding, which requires medical attention. 

Decreased Appetite

Consumption of strong medications affects the stomach lining and may cause dehydration. These symptoms decrease one's appetite and make it difficult for a person to eat food. 

Additional symptoms may include:

  • Painful urination
  • Dry eyes and mouth 
  • Blurred vision and slurred speech
  • Low levels of white blood cells
  • Loss of coordination
  • Lack of proper functioning of the bladder
  • Inflammation of the liver

Home Remedies Fight Period Pain

Dr Nirmala emphasised that besides painkillers, there are a few home remedies one may consider instead of taking medications:


Hot Compression

Resorting to hot compression in the pelvic area with a hot water bag or an electric heating pad helps relax the tightness of the muscles, easing abdominal cramping and pain. 


Bloating can worsen cramps so it is important to stay hydrated throughout the day to avoid bloating and pain. When cramps are severe, drinking hot water or other hot beverages relaxes the muscles and eases uterine contractions. Besides water, one can increase hydration by consuming water-based fruits and vegetables like lettuce, celery, cucumbers, watermelon and berries, including strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. 


While exercising, the body releases endorphins which help a person feel physically better. A few moderate exercises, such as cardio, yoga, or pilates help warm the muscles up and ease cramping. 


Massages ease the discomfort and severe cramps as it releases the muscles' tightness which helps improve blood flow in the body. 

Herbal Tea

Forms of herbal tea like ginger or fennel tea contain anti-inflammatory properties and antispasmodic compounds, which reduce muscle contractions in the uterus and stop cramping. 

Diet Modifications

While menstruating, avoiding certain food products can be helpful, especially caffeine, carbonated drinks, alcohol, and salty and fatty foods. This is because it causes bloating and dehydration, two symptoms which may lead to severe cramps. 

Foods To Consume To Curb Period Pain

Dr Nirmala listed foods that should be consumed to get relief from period cramps:

  • Brown rice contains vitamin B6, which reduces bloating.
  • Walnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds being rich in manganese help ease cramps.
  • During menstruation, a large amount of iron is lost, hence adding proteins like chicken, fish, and leafy green vegetables is beneficial during periods. 
  • Flaxseeds have omega-3 fatty acid which contain antioxidant properties that reduce swelling and inflammation.


Dr Nirmala concluded, "If a person is under medication, it is advised to consult a doctor to avoid future long-term side effects. When it comes to providing relief during period pain, painkillers are not the only option. There are alternative home remedies that help alleviate cramps, therefore before popping a pill, give a chance to these home remedies and see if it bears fruit to the desired result. "


The information provided in this article is expert-based, however, we advise you to consult with your expert for proper diagnosis and treatment as per your medical history.