Periods hurt. Whether your cramps are light or downright debilitating, the pain in your stomach, back and breasts is just one of the many downsides of PMS. Now, a groundbreaking study into menstrual pain may have found what is causing the discomfort, and it could alter your approach to battling the aches.
Research, published in the Journal of Women's Health, suggests that PMS is caused by inflammation, which is triggered by a biomarker called C-reactive protein (CRP). Scientists drew the link after surveying 3,302 women, and finding that the presence of CRP seems to be tied to those painful PMS symptoms.
"Premenstrual mood symptoms, abdominal cramps/back pain, appetite cravings/weight gain/bloating, and breast pain, but not headache, appear to be significantly and positively related to elevated hs-CRP levels, a biomarker of inflammation, although with modestly strong associations, even after adjustment for multiple confounding variables," the study's author wrote.
And, while the author explains that "the factors associated with each premenstrual symptom are complex", they believe that the results suggest that inflammation "may play a mechanistic role in most PMSx".
So, what does that mean for how we treat period pains? The study reads: "Recommending to women to avoid behaviours that are associated with inflammation may be helpful for prevention, and anti-inflammatory agents may be useful for treatment of these symptoms."