Cramps, bloating, or discomfort when your period rolls around each month? Menstrual issues were the #2 concerns of patients when I was in clinical practice (#1 was fatigue). The medical term for pain with menses is dysmenorrhea. For some women, dysmenorrhea can be debilitating. When your periods are so painful that you are unable to function normally, you deserve a good work up to make sure you don’t have something more serious than menstrual cramps. If your concerns are dismissed by your doctor, you need to find another doctor. I have seen numerous women over the years who were literally not able to live their lives due to chronic pelvic pain or chronic dysmenorrhea. My intake form for an initial visit for pelvic pain was 27 pages long so I missed nothing.
New research out of Taiwan reports that one risk factor for painful periods may be long-term exposure to air pollution. Exposure to air pollution is not on my 27-page intake history form for pelvic pain but it apparently should be now.
There can be a lot of different reasons for painful periods…
➡️ Hormonal imbalances
➡️ Pelvic inflammatory disease
It is important to get to the root cause of dysmenorrhea. The short list above has conditions that can negatively affect fertility in reproductive aged women. In fact, 50% of women with endometriosis will have fertility issues even if they have no other symptoms.
If one of these underlying conditions is present, it should be treated by a healthcare professional. Most women with pelvic pain issues can be effectively managed. However, many women experience painful periods for no obvious cause. In a cross-sectional study of over 32000 women aged 15-45, painful menstrual periods were present in 13% leading to absence from work or school. Just over 3% of women in this study were absent from school or work during every menstrual period. However, 80% of these women, although present, reported a reduction in their productivity during menstrual cycles. There was an average of 33% less productivity attributed to menstrual cramping leading to 8.9 days of lost productivity over the study period.
This new study, published in Frontiers of Public Health, found that the risk of developing problematic periods over a period of 13 years was 33 times higher in Taiwanese girls and women who lived in areas with the worst air pollution.
This is not actually surprising. We all know air pollution is a problem for various reasons. Now there is evidence that exposure to air pollution may contribute to menstrual problems by a factor of 33!
Air pollutants need to be processed and eliminated from the body just like any other toxicant. Pollutants put a strain on our everyday detoxification mechanisms, including the liver—which is also an important organ for metabolizing hormones!
???? This study is an important reminder that nothing in our body acts in a vacuum. Our hormonal health is closely related to our detoxification systems and can be disrupted by exposure to environmental pollutants. Here is an article I wrote on endocrine disruptors:
You’ll notice that many endocrine disruptors are part of your daily life, and you can be surrounded by them without even realizing it. Now, we can add air pollution to these pesky problems.
Therefore, everyday detoxification and occasional cleanses make a difference—even for seemingly unrelated issues like painful periods.
If you have any questions about your period or other hormonal concerns, these are issues we address comprehensively with testing and holistic protocols. To learn more about how we can help, visit our website here:
#environmentalmedicine #hormonehealth #detoxification #endocrinedisruptors #dysmenorrhea #painfulperiods #pelvic pain #hormoneimbalance #airpollution #askdrtreacy #healthwithoutrisk
Lin SY, Yang YC, Lin CC et al. Increased Incidence of Dysmenorrhea in Women Exposed to Higher Concentrations of NO, NO2, NOx, CO, and PM2.5: A Nationwide Population-Based Study. Front Public Health. 2021. [link]