From cramps to back pain, take a look at these tips to help take the discomfort out of your period

Many women experience period pain each month, but what exactly is it, what causes it and what can help ease it?

Period pain is caused by contractions in your womb as it works to shed and expel the lining. It's usually felt as cramping pain in your stomach, which can spread to your back and thighs. Period pain is different for each woman, and can vary from one period to the next.

Although these contractions are a natural and normal part of your menstrual cycle, they can be disruptive and uncomfortable.

When to seek advice

If period pain significantly disrupts your everyday life (like if you regularly need time off work), you should see your GP. Severe period pain can be a symptom of other conditions, such as endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a condition where parts of the womb lining are found outside of the womb. Find out more by reading our handy article.

You should speak to your GP if the normal pattern of your period changes, for example if your periods become irregular or heavier than usual.


Boots Keep Cosy Hot Water Bottle

A warm bath or a hot water bottle (wrapped in a towel or another insulating layer to protect the skin) placed on the tummy can help to ease cramps.

Cura-Heat Period Pain Heat Patch

These adhesive heat patches can help provide targeted relief from the discomfort and cramps of periods. Place the patch on your clothing or underwear and never use it directly on the skin. Follow the instructions carefully before use.

Boots TENS Digital Pain Relief

TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machines deliver a mild electrical current to help provide temporary relief from minor aches and pains.

“I get really bad lower back pain when I’m on my period and this machine has worked wonders. Definitely recommend!!” 

5* review for Boots TENS Digital Pain Relief - Lauramcc – 5* review​​​​​​​

Headspace Mind Giftcard

Meditation can help to distract you from the pain. Take a look at our mindfulness advice for more relaxation techniques.

Nurofen Express Period Pain*

You could also consider taking a fast-acting pain relief medicine designed specifically to help ease period pain, if it’s suitable for you.

*Contains ibuprofen. Always read the label. Read the Patient Information Leaflet before you take this medication.
The benefits of exercise

Gentle exercise can help relieve period pain. Exercise has a host of mind and body benefits, including stimulating the release of endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers.

Which pain relief medicines might help with period pain?

Medicines containing ibuprofen or aspirin are often recommended for period pain. These ingredients are available in many forms including tablets, caplets, capsules and liquids.

Ibuprofen and aspirin aren't suitable for everyone, and you should always read the label before taking. Ask your pharmacist for advice if you're unsure. View our ibuprofen and aspirin options.

Medicines containing paracetamol can also be used for period pain, although some studies have shown that paracetamol may be less effective than ibuprofen or aspirin. Paracetamol is available in many forms including tablets, caplets, capsules and liquids.

Paracetamol is considered suitable for most people to take, but as for any medicine, you should check the label to ensure it's suitable for you. You can visit our paracetamol page or ask your pharmacist for advice. Take a look at our paracetamol options.

If other painkillers haven't been effective, talk to your pharmacist about your options. You may want to consider a medicine containing codeine.

Codeine-containing medicines often have another ingredient such as ibuprofen, paracetamol or aspirin. Remember to check the ingredients of all the medicines you're taking, to make sure you're not accidentally taking too much of any one ingredient. As codeine can cause dependency, you shouldn't take codeine-containing medicines for longer than three days unless advised by your GP.

If you take too much pain relieving medicine

If you think you’ve taken too much of any pain relieving medicine, you should go to your nearest A&E department straight away.

Next steps

• Consider ibuprofen or aspirin for period pain, but remember the ingredients aren't suitable for everyone. Your pharmacist will be able to advise you

• Consider taking paracetamol, although it may not be as effective as ibuprofen or aspirin at reducing period pain

• Visit your GP if your periods are very painful, or the normal pattern of your periods changes

Alternatively, use our Period Pain Relief – Online Doctor.*

*Subject to availability and clinician approval. Charges apply.