Both IBS and period pain are characterised by abdominal pain, which can be severe. It is very important to get a diagnosis if you suspect you are suffering from IBS.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and/or period pain affects most women at some point in their lives. For an unlucky percentage of us symptoms of both can be a common occurrence. Although at times it may seem like there is not much you can do to improve the situation there are many ways in which you can relieve and even eliminate the suffering caused.
Both IBS and period pain are characterised by abdominal pain, which can be severe. IBS also causes bloating, excess wind, diarrhoea or constipation which are caused by spasms of the colon. It is very important to get a diagnosis if you suspect you are suffering from IBS. The symptoms can be confused with those of pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis or coeliac disease. It is extremely important either to rule these out or seek appropriate treatment as they could have long term negative consequences for your health and fertility.
Causes and Links
Many women who suffer from IBS report an increase in the severity of their symptoms during their period. In fact, it can be very difficult to determine exactly what is causing your symptoms. The link is thought to be due to the increased levels of reproductive hormones present during your period, which exacerbate IBS symptoms. The good news is, many of the things you can do to relieve IBS will also help to relieve period pain.
IBS Treatment and Period Pain Tips
Take it easy – Stress can play a part in worsening the symptoms of both IBS and period pain. It is important to relax your muscles, and your mind. Some people swear by yoga or meditation, or simpler stress relievers like low lighting, deep breathing and soothing music.
Back to basics – Painkillers such as codeine are indispensable when you have bad menstrual cramps. A hot bath or hot water bottle can also provide relief, or try a microwavable ‘wheat bag’ – these sometimes come scented with lavender to help you relax. Vibration can also help – humming through particularly bad cramps, or holding a ‘vibrating object’ against your stomach is surprisingly therapeutic.
Plan and prepare – If you suffer from IBS planning is essential; there is a range of products that can help you if you find yourself ‘caught short’. A lot of IBS sufferers understandably won’t go anywhere without diarrhoea tablets. These can be invaluable while travelling or in any ‘low toilet-access’ situations such as concerts, festivals or sporting events, and provide peace of mind which in turn relieves stress.
You are what you eat – Both period pain and IBS symptoms can be helped by diet. Many people say bananas help with period pain. For IBS there is a huge amount of information available. Generally, diets low in insoluble fibre but high in soluble fibre are recommended, along with low GI diets which also help to alleviate hormonal imbalance and so help improve menstrual symptoms.
Prescription and treatments for period pain are available; remember it is always worth visiting your doctor if your quality of life is being compromised.