Periods can be a real pain – but that pain can sometimes strike in unexpected parts. Have you ever stopped to think about why you sometimes get a painful sore back during a period? That’s not where your uterus is, after all, so what gives? Let’s go through the causes of period back pain, and the steps you can take to get it under control.
Lower back pain during periods: What causes it?
It’s thought that levels of the hormone relaxin are at least partly to blame for the lower back pain you may experience during periods. Relaxin does exactly what it says on the tin: relaxes your joints and ligaments.
During a period, your body produces this hormone more to loosen up the cervix and allow menstruation to occur. However, the higher-than-normal levels of relaxin in your system also loosen up the joints of the pelvis. This makes it harder work for the lower back to support the weight of your body, leading to lower back pain.
At the same time, the uterus releases chemical messengers called prostaglandins more just before and during your period. Prostaglandins are what cause the uterus to constrict and expel the old uterine lining as your menstrual flow. However, the increased levels of prostaglandins may also cause cramping and pain in surrounding tissues, like those in the nearby lower back.
Severe lower back pain during periods isn’t normal
The physical symptoms of periods can differ from person to person, so lower back or back pain during Shark Week isn’t always a cause for concern. However, severe pain that makes it hard to go about your daily life isn’t something you should have to put up with.
Lower back or back pain during periods can be a form of dysmenorrhea – meaning unusually bad menstrual pains. In some cases, dysmenorrhea can be associated with conditions that could affect your future fertility, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids.
Don’t ignore it, particularly if your menstrual back pain has just started or is getting much worse. Think about seeing a gynecologist to work out what’s happening if your menstrual symptoms include:
- New or worsening back pain
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Severe lower abdominal pain or cramping
Treatment for period back pain
Assuming your period back pain isn’t down to pathological causes like endometriosis, there are some natural strategies you can try to bring your symptoms under control.
Get your blood pumping
Improving good blood flow in the uterus is thought to prevent excess secretion of prostaglandins and relaxin. If you spend a lot of time sitting down (which is, frankly, understandable when you’re having a period), it’s a good idea to get up and stretch your body regularly to support good circulation. Some gentle stretching and breathing exercises may also be helpful.
Applying gentle warmth to a sore back with heating packs and warm water bottles is a remedy you can try at home. But when back pain strikes in the cooler months, it’s also a good idea to keep yourself warm in general.
According to traditional Chinese medicine theory, strategies like enjoying a cup of hot ginger tea or dressing your belly in layers can support good blood flow in your body. This is thought to help lessen some of the lower back pain you may experience during a period.
Use pressure points
Acupressure specialists use a complex network of pressure points through the body to treat a variety of aches and pains, including back pain. You can stimulate some of the points by pressing them with your fingers for 5 seconds in several sets. Try:
- SP-10 (Xuehai): Found right above the superior border of the patella on the inside of your thighs, on both legs.
- SP-6 (Sanyinjiao) : Found four finger-widths above the big ankle bone on the inside of your foot, on both legs.
Not everyone’s body responds to pressure points in the same way, so speak to a trained acupuncturist for a more detailed consult to help with your period back pain.
Don’t give in to period back pain
If you suffer from lower back pain during your periods, you’re definitely not alone. Your hormones are going through a big shift during this point of your cycle, with flow-on effects for your body. But don’t give up: severe lower back pain isn’t something you need to shrug off as part and parcel of getting periods.
Speak to a gynecologist if your lower back pain doesn’t respond to over-the-counter medicines or natural remedies – there are treatments available to relieve your period back pain.