A recent scientific study by the University of California (1) has finally provided a biological reason why period pain and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) hurts so much. We have known for a long time that anti-inflammatory substances and medications can reduce period pain and PMS, but now good old fashioned science has provided us with a reason for this. There is a biological link between inflammation and PMS. Women, rejoice. And cynics well…
This 2016 study links inflammation biomarkers and PMS, which suggests that acute inflammation could be triggering our period cramps and bloating. This link helps us identify the root cause of period pain in our bodies, so that we can treat the cause and not just mask the symptoms. Hurrah! It also provides evidence for what we've been saying all along: Period pain sucks and the struggle is real.
After surveying 2,939 American women, researchers at the University of California, proved a positive correlation between period pain severity and the presence of Hs-CRP, which is a high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. Come again? The presence of Hs-CRP simply indicates inflammation in the body. Basically the more of this protein (Hs-CRP) that we have, the more inflammation we experience, and thus, the worse our period pain and other symptoms are likely to be. Make sense now? Fab.
Here's a quote from those rad researchers:
"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."
This may not come as no surprise given the types of treatments we currently use and know from experience to work like OTC pain killers; ginger/chamomile tea or cramp bark; herbs like turmeric (another go-to), and even heat, all of which have been used to reduce inflammation generally. But nonetheless it’s nice to have science back this up.
Given the almost universal acknowledgement of experiencing period pain by women and the toll it takes on our medical system (over 50% of us seek medical advice) it's a wonder why it took until 2016 for a study about the cause of PMS or it's treatment to take place. For now, let's celebrate that we’re that little bit closer to eliminating period pain from our lives for good.
(1) Gold Ellen B., Wells Craig, and Rasor Marianne O'Neill. Journal of Women's Health. September 2016, 25(9): 865-874. doi:10.1089/jwh.2015.5529.
Read the full study by the University of California published in the Journal of Women's Health
This article is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose any condition or act as a replacement for a medical consultation.