Why You Get Leg Pain During Your Period And How To Get Rid Of Cramps

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legs with pain during period
Health And Wellness

As a woman, I am well-versed in the trials and tribulations of period pain. I'm well aware that many women experience mild to severe menstrual cramps and pain in their lower back and/or abdomen, but until recently, I didn't know that I wasn't the only person who gets killer leg pain and cramping during my period.

What causes menstrual pain and cramps?

There are two types of dysmenorrhea — the fancy medical term for painful periods — primary and secondary.

Primary dysmenorrhea is the more common of the two, and is caused by contractions of the uterus brought on by prostaglandin, a "hormone-like substance" released during that time of the month. On the positive side, these contractions help flush last month's uterine lining from your body. On the negative side, they can also cause menstrual pain and cramps.

Secondary dysmenorrhea is less common and is caused by diseases or medical conditions affecting the reproductive organs, such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and fibroids on the inner wall of the uterus, among others.

RELATED: 15 Weird (But Totally Normal!) Things That Happen On Your Period

Why do my legs hurt when I get my period?

Leg pain seems so unrelated to your period that many folks don't ever connect the two, but in fact, this is a pretty common symptom.

When your body releases prostaglandin, your uterus isn't the only muscle affected. Prostaglandin can cause other muscles in your body to contract as well, including muscles in your legs. In particular, you may feel pain or cramping in your inner or upper thighs, buttocks and calves.

Is it normal to get cramps during your period?

It's basically "normal" to experience some pain and cramping during your period, but it is not normal for that pain or cramping to last more than two or three days.

Period pain may be more intense when you're younger and mellow as you age. Whether this is because we get used to it, or because of changing hormone levels is still in debate.

Personally, I'm 33 now, and I've gotten my period since I was 9 years old. That's 24 years of me dropping to my knees each month and crying out, "The curse is upon me!" before vomiting dramatically onto the floor and taking to my bed, also with as much drama as I can muster post-vomit.

What's more common that getting leg pain during your period? Not talking to your doctor about it — which you should definitely do.

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How can I stop my legs from hurting during my period?

There are a few things you can do to stop or relieve legs cramps during your period.

1. Apply a warm heating pad to the area that is cramping.

2. Try lying down on your side until the pain or cramps subside.

3. Do some gentle exercise, such as yoga, stretching or walking.

4. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever like Tylenol.

Taking ibuprofen a day or two before your period strikes is a preventative measure that might lessen the severity of your pain before it strikes. Ibuprofen makes it difficult for prostaglandin to latch onto your muscle once it begins flooding your system.

Other remedies I have found useful include baths, chocolate, and putting a purring cat on your tummy while you watch so much television. Probably can't hurt to give any of those a try, but this obviously shouldn't be used as a substitute for medical advice. When in doubt, be sure to contact your doctor.

Good luck!

RELATED: Period Flu? What It Really Means If You Have Flu-Like Symptoms Before Your Period

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She's the Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, and true crime.