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Mild to moderate menstrual discomfort is a common phenomenon most women experience while having their monthly cycles. In some women, this pain or discomfort reaches a different level – they experience severe pain during their periods.
However, if you are a woman who suffers from dysmenorrhoea or period pain, you might want to know if this pain will hinder your ability to get pregnant. Read on to find out more.
Causes of Period Cramps
Prostaglandin is a chemical that is present in different parts of your body including your uterus, which is responsible for causing your period cramps too. The main function of this chemical is to regulate body temperature, regulate inflammation, aid cell growth, muscle dilation and constriction.
When you have your period, this chemical causes contractions in your uterine muscles and also helps in expelling the uterine lining. However, in the case of higher amounts of the chemical in your body, more severe contractions occur.
These severe contractions lead to severe menstrual pain and cramps. Dysmenorrhoea is further categorized into two types – primary dysmenorrhoea causes mild to moderate pain and is usually related to the shedding of the uterine lining only. Secondary dysmenorrhoea, on the other hand, could cause severe pain and could be indicative of an underlying medical condition that can affect your fertility or ability to get pregnant.
Can Intense Menstrual Cramps Affect Your Fertility?
Intense menstrual cramps or secondary dysmenorrhoea may indicate the following medical conditions, which could adversely affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant or conceive:
1. PID Or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease is usually triggered by (untreated) sexually transmitted infections or STIs; however, in some cases, PID may get triggered by unrelated infections of reproductive organs too. One of the most common problems with this condition is that it sometimes becomes difficult to detect because the main symptoms such as unusual vaginal discharge and pain during sex either go unnoticed or are not present. Sometimes this condition may not cause severe pain, but it can still affect one’s fertility. This is because untreated sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis or chlamydia may cause scarring in the reproductive organs (fallopian tubes, ovaries or uterus) and thus affect the fertility of a woman.
This condition is one of the most common reasons of intense menstrual cramps that also affect a woman’s fertility. Endometriosis occurs when the lining, which usually grows inside the uterus, starts growing on other reproductive parts such as the fallopian tubes and ovaries. The lining growing on other reproductive organs weakens them, resulting in infertility issues. Endometriosis can be easily diagnosed through a laparoscopic procedure. If you experience pain in your lower back, pain after having sex, or nausea, there are chances that you may have this condition. However, it is important to remember that having severe menstrual cramps does not mean that you have this condition, or conversely, that if you have endometriosis, you won’t be able to conceive. In other words, if you have painful periods and can’t get pregnant, it is not necessary that you have endometriosis.
This condition is somewhat like endometriosis, but in this case, the inner uterine lining starts growing on the uterine walls instead of on other reproductive organs. This medical condition can be characterised by lower abdominal pain, painful cramps and bloating during periods. There are several studies being conducted to understand why this condition occurs in women. Some studies indicate that it may be caused due to hormone fluctuations in the body, which include progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and oestrogen. Adenomyosis causes intense menstrual cramps. However, there is limited evidence available on whether there is a connection between heavy, painful periods and fertility in this scenario.
4. Fibroids And Ovarian Cysts
Approximately 30 per cent of the women in the age bracket of 30 to 45 years may have fibroids, which are noncancerous tumours. These tumours are present either inside or close to the uterine lining. These benign growths usually obstruct the flow of blood, causing severe pain during periods. Your ability to become pregnant depends on the severity of the condition, which means that the size and location of the fibroid may hamper your fertility. In some cases, if a woman has fibroids and conceives, it can sometimes lead to an abortion or miscarriage.
Ovarian cysts, as the name suggests, are fluid-filled sacs that are present in the ovaries. Like fibroids, ovarian cysts are noncancerous too. They usually get better on their own; however, if they are big in size and present in places like fallopian tubes or the ovaries, they might cause a hindrance in the process of conception.
Does Treatment of Painful Periods Cause Infertility?
If you are in severe pain, there is no point waiting for your ordeal to get worse. Seek professional help for the same. In most cases, your doctor may advise you to take hormonal birth control pills to ease your pain. However, that may not be recommended in case you are trying to get pregnant. Some of the readily available over-the-counter or OTC painkiller medicines can prove to be helpful too, but many women fear that taking such medicines can affect their ability to get pregnant.
Some available research suggests the negative effects of taking medicines such as ibuprofen on fertility. Also, in one of the studies, the effect of naproxen was found to the delay ovulation in women, and further delays were noted in women who took higher doses of the same medicine. The impact was not that severe, but it was substantial.
Some women may have to go for surgical procedures to get relief from the painful periods. However, before the decision for surgery is made, it is important that you talk to your reproductive endocrinologist to know the effect of surgery on your ability to conceive. If your doctor gives you the go-ahead, then it may be a good decision to go in for the surgery as it may not only help you to get rid of the annoying period cramps but it may also increase your chances of getting pregnant.
If you are experiencing any kind of severe menstrual cramps, it becomes important that you bring it into your doctor’s notice to check whether it may affect your chances of getting pregnant or not.