Should we take painkillers during menstruation?

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For many women, the menstruation cycle is accompanied with painful cramps which not only affect day-to-day activities but can be really difficult to bear. In such a situation, women may consider taking a painkiller to ease the pain, but is it safe to take the pills?

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There is so much confusion around taking painkillers during the periods, but Dr Tanaya, a doctor, said that it is okay to take pills during menses. “It is totally okay to take painkillers if you get pain because of period cramps. Taking these painkillers will not make you infertile or harm your uterus. Periods are a difficult time and it’s important to keep yourself comfortable,” she wrote in her Instagram post.

Agreeing with her, Dr Suman Lal, Associate Director- Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Max Hospital said, “one mild painkiller with a gap of 12 hours can be taken during period pain.”

Explaining the reason behind the period pain, Dr Tanaya wrote that it occurs because your body secretes substances called ‘prostaglandins’ that help squeeze your uterus to get the period blood out.

According to her, most period painkillers (like Meftal Spas) work by relaxing the uterus, so it does not squeeze itself that hard which eases pain. However, regular painkillers (like aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen) work by indirectly reducing prostaglandin activity, so the squeezing action is reduced and you are not in pain.

Dr Tanaya warned against overdose on the pills. “Do not consume more than one every eight hours. Excessive consumption of painkillers can harm your kidneys and your stomach, but one or two painkillers every other month are not enough to cause that damage in an average person,” she explained. “And if your pain is not eased even after taking painkillers, or you are in extreme pain, please see a doctor. There could be an underlying condition that needs investigation,” she added.

During the menstruation cycle, we might feel lazy. Dr Suman suggested a few ways which can help relieve pain. “In addition to using heat and consuming peppermint tea, you can also lessen cramping by avoiding particular foods such as fried meals, milk and other dairy products, fatty foods, and caffeine.

“ Applying heat to your back or abdomen can help ease your pain since heat can relax the muscles responsible for cramping. Period discomfort can be significantly reduced by using a heating pad or taking a warm bath,” Dr Suman elaborated.

Also, she suggested doing exercise as it encourages the body’s natural production of endorphins, which work to reduce pain perception.

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