Sometimes periods are a walk in the park. A piece of cake. Easy as pie. A doddle. Sometimes you barely even notice they’re there.

There’s a ‘but’ coming, isn’t there?

But… sometimes, they do hurt. We’re not going to lie. Don’t worry though, it’s totally normal.

Period pain, or ‘dysmenorrhoea’ if we want to be fancy about it, is thought to happen because the muscles in the wall of your womb are contracting. It’s hard to measure because the type and amount of pain is different for everyone, but as many as 90% of women experience period pain at some point or another.  

What sort of pain are we talking about here?

Period pain typically feels like cramps in your lower abdomen, which can sometimes spread to your back and thighs. Some women also have headaches during their period, and some find it pops up in more unusual places – one of the betty team even gets period twinges in her knees. Seriously.

TL;DR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • Not everyone has painful periods, but some cramps below your tummy are common and nothing to panic about.
  • The amount of pain is different for everyone, but it’s usually over in two or three days.
  • For most people period pain is totally bearable, and there are plenty of options to help.

The pain can arrive in short spasms (ow!) or can take the form of a more consistent, dull ache (owwww). Neither are exactly the dream, but don’t worry – we’ve got your back. Or tummy. Or thighs. Or knees.

How long will the misery last?

Not long, don’t worry. It could be just a few twinges, or it might go on for a little longer – but most period pain is over within two or three days. It usually appears just before your period starts, or at the beginning, when your period is heaviest.

Period pain tends to be worst in the first year or two after you begin your periods, and usually gets better as you get older. So that’s something to look forward to.

For most people period pains are just a nuisance, not a day-ruiner – but remember, you never need to just grin and bear it. If the pain in your uterus is becoming a pain in the arse, there are plenty of things that can help, like hot water bottles and heat packs, painkillers, exercises and other solutions your GP can recommend. 

In the meantime, there’s always a walk in the park. Or a piece of cake. Or a pie.