THE moment a woman complains about having abdominal cramps, we immediately chalk it up to Aunt Flo — after all this is her most common symptom. But what if she is not the guilty party? Obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Robyn Khemlani said that there are a number of other common as well as not-so-common reasons why you may be experiencing these cramps.
Last week she listed some of the possible guilty parties — here are some others.
This is when a baby grows somewhere other than the womb. Most often it happens in one of the two Fallopian tubes. It's life-threatening for the mother and can't result in a live birth.
“Endometriosis is a long-term condition in which tissue similar to your womb's lining attaches to other organs and begins to grow. They seem like regular period cramps, but they can happen any time of the month,” Dr Khemlani said. She notes that women may also notice that sex that involves deep penetration may be painful as well as they may experience painful bowel movements. Another common challenge that women with endometriosis contend with is difficulty getting pregnant.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
“PID is caused by an infection that is usually spread by sex. It can affect your Fallopian tubes, womb, and ovaries. PID causes abnormal vaginal discharge and sometimes spotting. You may also have pain or burning when you have sex or when you pee,” Dr Khemlani shared. Sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea were fingered as the typical culprits of this serious pelvic infection that can lead to pelvic pain and infertility.
Interstitial cystitis or bladder pain syndrome(BPS)
BPS is a relatively uncommon condition, although studies likely underestimate the true prevalence. “BPS is between two and five times more common in women than men and is most often diagnosed in the fourth decade or later. Diagnostic criteria for BPS have varied, and there is no definitive diagnostic test which has made establishing the prevalence difficult. A large study done in America found the prevalence rates to be 2.3 to 6.5 per cent,” Dr Khemlani explained. Other chronic pain symptoms, such as irritable bowel syndrome, vulvodynia and fibromyalgia are present in BPS. Symptoms typically get worse when the bladder is full (when there is an urge to urinate). It can cause pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen or pelvic area. Other possible symptoms are painful urination and feeling an urgent need to urinate
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS causes stomach pain and bloating with diarrhoea, constipation, or both. The pain is usually sudden and might go away after you poop. “Your specific pain will depend on whether you have constipation or diarrhoea. You might go back and forth between the two or only have one type. Symptoms usually get worse during your period. You might feel pressure like you tried to go, but couldn't fully empty your bowels. You might feel sick to your stomach, have gas, or spot mucus in your stool,” Dr Khemlani underscored.
Ovarian cancer is relatively rare. However, if it is the reason for your abdominal pain, you will also experience abdominal bloating, urinary problems, weight loss, and abdominal or pelvic pain.
“The pain from appendicitis typically comes on fast. Other signs that distinguish this pain from that of your period include fever, nausea, and vomiting — all of which means you should head to the doctor or ER as soon as possible for treatment,” Dr Khemlani advised.