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Period pains can be 'as bad as a heart attack', say scientists

It is not clearly understood why some women suffer more than others

Matt Payton
Thursday 18 February 2016 17:03 GMT
Menstrual cramps
Menstrual cramps (Rex Features)

Periods can cause women as much pain as heart attacks, scientists now believe.

There is very little research on period pain despite the fact that one is five women have their lives seriously affected by painful menstruation, Quartz reports.

The director of the gynecological pain at NorthShore University Healthsystem, Frank Tu said that many doctors are taught that ibuprofen "should be good enough" to combat such pains.

Professor John Guilleaud from the University College London said menstrual cramping can be as "bad as having a heart attack".

Dysmenorrhea, the clinical term for painful periods, has no definitive medical origin.

The other main cause of menstrual pain is endometriosis where tissue normally lining the uterus is found on the pelvis, fallopian tubes or ovaries.

In addition to causing extremely painful menstrual cramps, untreated endometriosis can cause infertility.

The "million dollar question" is why some women suffer more from period pain than others, according to Dr Richard Legro from Penn State College of Medicine.

Professor John Guilleaud said: "I think it happens with both genders of doctor.

"On the one hand, men don’t suffer the pain and underestimate how much it is or can be in some women.

"But I think some women doctors can be a bit unsympathetic because either they don’t get it themselves or if they do get it they think, ‘Well I can live with it, so can my patient'."

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