Period Pain: What’s 'Normal' And When To See A Doctor

Scarlet Period Blog | Is my period pain normal?

Is my Period Pain normal? Our resident naturopath Ema Taylor weighs in...

Tuning in and taking note of your period can provide excellent insight into your overall health and well-being; think of it as a monthly self-care assessment. Do you experience painful periods each month? Your body may be trying to communicate that something isn't quite balanced.

Dysmenorrhea (painful periods) are attributed to either primary or secondary causes. Primary dysmenorrhea refers to painful menstruation with no other underlying reproductive condition detected; it usually begins in adolescence and is experienced by up to 90% of women.

Symptoms include:

  • Cramping and sharp pain in the abdomen
  • Lower back and leg pain beginning at the start or during menstruation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, Headache or light-headedness

Secondary dysmenorrhea refers to pain that is associated with an underlying condition such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, intrauterine devices, irregular cycles or infertility problems, ovarian cysts, adenomyosis, uterine myomas or polyps, intrauterine adhesions, or cervical stenosis. Secondary dysmenorrhea can occur at any stage in a wxman’s life and can be experienced 1-2 weeks before the onset of menses

Why do you experience pain?

In primary dysmenorrhea, you can thank high levels of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances that promote inflammation and stimulate contractions, ischemia, and nerve endings, leading to cramping and pain. When the endometrial lining sheds during menstruation, prostaglandins are released from the endometrial cells. Research has shown that women who experience more severe dysmenorrhea have higher levels of prostaglandins.

Other risk factors associated with primary dysmenorrhea include early age onset of menarche, long menstrual periods, smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption, and increased emotional stress.

In secondary dysmenorrhea, pain is often associated with an underlying pathological condition such as endometriosis.

If you are aware of an underlying condition, I encourage you to seek individualized practitioner support with managing these symptoms. There are many natural, evidence-based ways to manage secondary dysmenorrhea so you don’t have to suffer with pain each month.


Ema Taylor is Degree Qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist and Certified Fertility Awareness Educator. Her mission is to help women understand their miraculous body, find harmony with their hormones and optimise their fertility so you they live a more empowered life. 

You can follow Ema at @emataylornaturopathy and browse her website to find out first about courses and special events.