Treating period pain

By and large, period pain is something that can be treated at home using one of a number of painkillers commercially available over the counter from pharmacies. In addition to these various medications there are also a number of self-help techniques you can try out.

To begin with let’s take a look at some of the over-the-counter medications that are available.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)

For most instances of pain associated with periods, doctors tend to prescribe Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs for short.

The types of NSAIDs that are most popularly bought over-the-counter are Aspirin and Ibuprofen. Where these are not particularly effective, a GP may prescribe alternatives such as Mefenamic Acid or Naproxen. Some women with conditions such as Asthma, or women suffering from kidney or liver conditions, are not recommended to take NSAIDs. The same goes for women who are either pregnant or breastfeeding.

Also, generally speaking, Aspirin is not recommended for women below 16 years of age because although rare, it can trigger a disease that attacks the brain and the liver.

Alternative painkillers

If you are one of the women who find NSAIDs to be ineffective, there are alternatives such as Paracetamol; that are also readily available over-the-counter. However, according to studies that have been undertaken, Paracetamol is not as effective as a NSAID.

Where NSAIDs or Paracetamol are not effective, there are other pain medications that a doctor may prescribe.

The combined contraceptive pill

For women who need a contraceptive as well as period pain relief, GPs sometimes prescribe a combined oral contraceptive pill. These pills work by thinning the lining of the womb thereby helping to minimise the amount of Prostaglandin chemicals which can induce fever, inflammation and pain.

By thinning the lining of the womb, it means that the muscles in the womb don’t have to contract as forcefully as they otherwise might, in order to expel the unwanted tissue. This also means that your periods will be made lighter.

Contraceptive Implants and injections

For one reason or another some women are not able to take the combined contraceptive pill and in these cases an injection or a contraceptive implant may be recommended.

Self-help to treat period pain

There are a number of things you can do at home to relieve help to period pain. Although they may not stop it completely they can to help to make it more manageable.

Gentle exercise

You may not feel very much like exercising when you’ve got your period, but doing a little cycling, taking a short walk or doing some gentle swimming can all help.

Apply heat

Heat is always a good remedy for any pain. It has a somewhat soothing effect. You can use a heat pad, or a hot-water-bottle. Make sure that the water is not boiling hot though – just pleasantly warm.

Light massage

Another home remedy that you can try is a little gentle massage. Try gently rubbing your lower abdomen with a light, circular motion.

Quit smoking

It is generally believed that smoking tobacco can increase period pain, so try and give it up. Not smoking is better for your general health anyway, so you’ll get a double benefit.

Take a warm bath or shower

We’ve already mentioned how a little heat can help to soothe pain. Taking a nice warm shower or soaking in a warm bath also helps you to relax as well as having a soothing effect.  


Relaxation is much undervalued when it comes to relieving pain. Try practicing a little Pilates or Yoga. These disciplines can work by distracting your mind away from the pain

Try Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

You can buy Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machines from many pharmacies. They can be use in the home quite safely. When applied to the pelvic area they stimulate the nerves with tiny electrical impulses.

Period pain caused by a medical condition

If after 3-months of trying to control your period pain with medication you are still suffering unduly, it could be that you have an underlying medical condition such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or Fibroids. If you are concerned you should make an appointment to see your GP.

The Well Women Clinic at Broadgate Clinic London Wall

If you suffer from severe period pain, and if you live and/or work in London, you may find it more convenient to use the private walk in Well Women clinic facility we operate here Broadgate Clinic London Wall. As no prior appointment is necessary many women find this the most convenient option to fit in an appointment with a busy work schedule.

The opening hours for our Well Woman clinic are:

  • 08:00 to 18:30 Monday to Thursday
  • 08:00 to 17:30 on Fridays

Although no prior appointment is necessary, if you prefer to make appointment in order to minimise any potential waiting time, the number to ring is 020 7638 4330.