Truly, there can often be no pain quite like it. The one that afflicts women from puberty, and sticks around until their next biological hurdle; menopause. The period. From which pain can present itself in a colourful array of possibilities. The worst of which is typically that from cramps. A result of compounds (called prostaglandins) that cause the uterus to contract in order to shed the uterine lining every time an egg is released into the uterus without becoming fertilised. Those contractions are also called cramps. And cramps are often the reason women can be doubled over in grotesque amounts of pain every month. Of course, the menstrual cycle is completely necessary for the purpose of procreation, but until then: there are many opinions about the agony it causes that collectively and unabashedly tell it where to go. 

In a study undertaken by Professor of reproductive health at University College London, John Guillebaud, the intensity of period pain has been likened to the level of pain felt during a heart attack. In the same audio bite, the parallel was made between the attitude that has largely been perpetuated around the expectations we have had of women, despite being in various levels of pain on a regular basis, to carry on as they normally would. Women who have been diagnosed with diseases related to their ovaries, such as endometriosis and polycystic ovaries (among others) notoriously suffer through such severe levels of agony that they can – and often are – hospitalised over it. It is no joke, and we are fully supportive of the outpouring of information that allows us to understand an affliction that only one gender will ever experience, and how it can be properly treated and accommodated for in every facet of a woman’s life. 

In less severe cases, pain relief medication can do a really good job of alleviating that which is caused by periods. We will not patronise you by assuming you don’t already know what the selection of pain relief medication is out there for you, but chances are you may not know how they work and why one might be better suited for you than another. There are some over-the-counter meds that appear to have more of a cult following for their pain-relieving magic than others. So beyond endless cups of tea, heat packs and chocolate at the ready, let’s go through some of the more trusted kinds of medication that promise to alleviate pain caused by cramps and other PMS symptoms, quickly. 


Naprogesic works its magic by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins to treat the cause of period pain. The prostaglandins are directly associated with the levels of pain felt during this stage of the cycle, so medication that blocks the enzymes that produce them is your saving grace. As many women can attest, for optimal pain evasion, it is best to take the medication AS SOON AS symptoms present themselves in your body, or when you start menstrual bleeding (whichever comes first). Because of its singular ingredient, naproxen, it has been hailed as a highly effective over-the-counter medication. Generally speaking, the naproxen in Naprogesic gives its consumer pain relief for longer than a lot of other anti-inflammatory varieties. 


This medication is exactly as it indicates it is; pain relief with a more powerful engine to alleviate more severe and stubborn pain. So period pain definitely qualifies. It focuses on five kinds of pain in particular: period pain, tension headaches, migraines, muscle aches and pains and dental pain. The Optizorb formulation contains ingredients to fight tough pain that are clinically proven. Its ingredients include paracetamol and caffeine, as well as the advanced Optizorb technology that is especially targeted to fight pain from the five causes highlighted. 


Advil relies solely on ibuprofen as its active ingredient to help make the pain levels more bearable, if not alleviate them entirely. Ibuprofen is one of the most popular NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) in the world for pain relief. Similar to Naprogesic, it works by inhibiting the enzymes that trigger the changes in the body from doing their job.This medication is popular because it does not cause clotting, like some others can, which reduces chance of heart disease. It can, however, increase the risk of developing nausea, an unsettled stomach or an ulcer.    


Maxigesic is so confident in its pain-alleviating offering that it is currently offering a money back guarantee if you are not satisfied (until 31 March 2022). This medication contains a premium combination of Paracetamol and Ibuprofen; which provides you with double action pain relief for a gamut of concerns. The paracetamol targets the brain, while the ibuprofen targets the production of pain chemicals within the body and reduces inflammation. It is the only combination of the two ingredients that allows you to have the full recommended dosage of 4000mg paracetamol and 1200mg ibuprofen daily to alleviate your pain. This equates to up to 8 tablets within a 24 hour period. 

It’s just one thread of an intricately-woven tapestry that makes ‘that time of the month’ more bearable. And when it comes to pain relief medication, one size does not fit all. It is advantageous to know exactly what kind of medication works best to alleviate the pain that cramps, back aches, headaches and even nausea can afflict you with during your menstrual cycle. Although it does not feature on the box of any of these medications, we instruct you further to rest, drink water and generally; handle yourself with care. There can be little done for the consequences of ignorance surrounding women’s menstrual health previously, but much with the awareness that only increases with the amount of information afforded to us. There is a willingness and a focus that is centuries delayed, and that women have paid for with its negligence. The train has left the station and we implore you to grab a seat – there’s enough room for everyone. We have some learning to do.


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