9 PCOS Period Pain Relief Tips

Explore what causes PCOS period pain and 9 discomfort relief strategies. From diet changes to medical advice, learn how to effectively manage PCOS period pain for better health and comfort.

December 21, 2023
5 min

Did you know that there are 2 types of period pain? Understanding the cause of your menstrual discomfort is important for figuring out how to manage it effectively. In this post, we're going to explore:

  • 2 types of period pain
  • The underlying causes of PCOS period pain
  • Nine practical strategies to alleviate menstrual discomfort

Understanding the Two Types of Period Pain

Known medically as dysmenorrhea, period pain generally falls into two categories: primary and secondary dysmenorrhea.

1. Primary Dysmenorrhea:

  1. What It Is: These are the typical menstrual cramps that aren't caused by other medical conditions and are a regular part of the menstrual cycle.
  2. Why It Happens: Prostaglandins released in the uterus lead to contractions to shed its lining. High levels of these hormones can intensify contractions, reducing blood flow and causing pain.
  3. Symptoms: Usually starting one to two days before menstruation and lasting up to four days, the pain is often a throbbing sensation in the lower abdomen, sometimes accompanied by nausea, headaches, or dizziness.

2. Secondary Dysmenorrhea:

  1. What It Is: This pain stems from disorders in the reproductive system and can indicate an underlying condition.
  2. Common Culprits: It can be caused by conditions like endometriosis, PCOS, uterine fibroids, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or certain types of birth control.
  3. Symptoms & Onset: Starting earlier in the cycle and lasting longer, it often comes with irregular periods and pain during intercourse. Typically, it affects women later in life, often in their 20s and 30s.

Consulting a healthcare professional is key if you're experiencing severe or changing menstrual pain. Early treatment of secondary dysmenorrhea is especially important to address any underlying conditions.

pcos period pain
There are 2 types of period pain: primary and secondary dysmenorrhea

What Causes PCOS Period Pain?

Several factors contribute to painful periods in those with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, largely stemming from the condition's impact on the body:

  1. Hormonal Imbalances: Imbalances like increased androgens and erratic estrogen and progesterone levels contribute to irregular, often painful, periods.
  2. Irregular Menstruation: Without regular ovulation, the uterine lining thickens, leading to heavier, more painful shedding.
  3. Inflammation and Uterine Activity: Low-grade inflammation associated with PCOS can worsen discomfort, and hormonal imbalances can cause painful uterine contractions.
  4. Insulin Resistance: This common PCOS feature exacerbates hormonal imbalances, potentially heightening menstrual pain.
  5. Endometrial Hyperplasia: Extended exposure to estrogen without regular shedding can thicken the uterine lining, resulting in more painful periods.

While PCOS can make painful periods more likely, the severity varies. Treatment focuses on managing these underlying issues. Those with severe pain should seek medical consultation.

9 Strategies for Easing Menstrual Pain with PCOS

Strategy 1: Embrace Lifestyle Modifications

Adopting a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, ensuring adequate sleep, and reducing stress through mindfulness or yoga can significantly mitigate PCOS symptoms. Steering clear of too much caffeine and sugar also helps regulate hormonal balance.

Strategy 2: Make Nutritional Adjustments

Incorporating a diet filled with whole foods, fiber, omega-3s, and antioxidants while minimizing high-glycemic foods supports hormone balance and insulin management, crucial in PCOS.

Strategy 3: Utilize Over-the-Counter Pain Relief

Non-prescription medications like ibuprofen can lessen menstrual cramps by targeting prostaglandin production. Always adhere to recommended doses and consult a healthcare provider for persistent pain.

Strategy 4: Commit to Regular Physical Activity

Regular exercise, whether aerobic, strength training, or yoga, helps manage weight, improves insulin sensitivity, and can alleviate menstrual pain. Consistency is key to reaping long-term benefits.

Strategy 5: Explore Hormonal Treatment Options

Regulating your cycle and easing pain with hormonal contraceptives or progesterone therapy can also temper PCOS's effects. These treatments help stabilize hormone levels, reducing symptom severity.

Strategy 6: Apply Heat Therapy

Heat pads and warm baths relax uterine muscles and increase blood flow, offering immediate relief from cramps. Always follow safety guidelines to avoid skin damage from excessive heat.

Strategy 7: Track Menstrual Cycles

Monitoring your cycles helps identify pain patterns and the effectiveness of various strategies. Various apps and tools are available to assist in this tracking.

Strategy 8: Consider Alternative Therapies

Treatments like acupuncture or certain herbal supplements, under professional supervision, may help balance hormones and reduce pain. However, it's essential to consult with healthcare providers to avoid adverse interactions with other treatments.

Strategy 9: Regularly Consulting Healthcare Professionals

Seeking tailored medical advice is crucial, especially when symptoms are severe. Doctors can offer comprehensive management plans, including medication, lifestyle adjustments, or even surgery if needed. Ongoing communication and regular check-ups are essential.


Effectively managing PCOS and associated menstrual discomfort is achievable through a blend of lifestyle changes, medical intervention, and self-care. By exploring and adopting these nine strategies, you can empower yourself to improve your quality of life significantly.

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