Reproductive system pain is a concern for women everywhere. Some women have literally suffered from menstrual-related or reproductive, pelvic pain for years. Dysmenorrhea (painful, heavy menstruation), pain after child delivery, or pain during intercourse are all common problems we hear about regularly. Yet, not all women experience this type of pain. And you don’t have to either!
Reproductive pain (pain in the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, or vagina) is caused by many factors, may indicate a fertility health issue, and can hinder conception efforts, yet can often be effectively addressed through natural approaches.
What Causes Reproductive System or Pelvic Pain?
The most common causes come from:
- elevated prostaglandins (hormone imbalance)
- ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometriosis
- reproductive system scarring
- muscle spasms, menstrual cramps
- trauma to the reproductive organs or pelvic floor muscles (from childbirth, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy)
- nerve imbalance
- reproductive infections (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Sexually Transmitted Infections)
Note: It can be difficult to determine where pelvic pain is coming from. In addition to the reproductive system, pelvic pain can also be generated from the urinary or digestive system. Sharp pain in the lower right part of your abdomen along with vomiting or fever may be a sign of appendicitis. Always seek medical attention if you’re unsure and your pain is severe.
Types of Reproductive Pain and How To Address Them
Common Reproductive System Pain: Often felt on one or both sides in the ovaries (especially during ovulation or if you have cysts), in the fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix or vagina. This type of pain can be felt a few days pre-period, during the menstrual cycle (Dysmenorrhea), or throughout the month if the woman has fibroids, ovarian cysts, or endometriosis.
Following a fertility Cleanse is a good starting point for relief and hormone balancing for women with this type of pain. Note: Short-term pain can also be felt during embryo implantation before a woman even realizes she is pregnant. Be sure to test for pregnancy if you’re actively trying to conceive.
Pain During or After Intercourse (Dyspareunia): Pain during intercourse is upsetting for both partners and can affect your fertility journey. If this sounds like you, make sure you are producing enough cervical mucus. Pain during intercourse is also often related to childbirth trauma, pelvic floor dysfunction or organ prolapse. Intercourse positions like “woman on top” allow a woman to have more control over penetration and can help reduce pain.
Vaginal dryness: Vaginal dryness is one of the most common causes of pain during intercourse. Drink more water and add essential fats to the diet through nuts and seeds, unrefined oils, avocado, and cold-water fish to support normal cervical mucus production. Using a sperm-friendly lubricant works for short term relief. Consider consuming Evening Primrose Oil or Cod Liver Oil if vaginal dryness is an ongoing issue.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Discomfort: Felt as a general heaviness, cramping, or discomfort in the pelvic region. Causes linked to this discomfort are difficult or fast childbirth or back-to-back pregnancies. (It may also be caused by STIs or PID which require a medical diagnosis and different treatment.)
Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction can be accompanied by incontinence or leakage, or organ prolapse. Practicing Kegels is one of my top recommendations for pelvic floor dysfunction and pain. Uterine calming herbs can offer support and relief. Biofeedback, yoga, and physical therapy are also highly effective.
Vaginismus (genito-pelvic pain disorder): This disorder benefits from approaches like using vaginal dilators, which gradually help a woman become more accustomed to penetration.
Vulvodynia (pain in the vulva): Vulvodynia responds to practicing Kegels, using relaxation therapies, and applying warm and cold packs.
For severe organ prolapse, surgical methods may need to be explored.
Uterine Calming Herbs To The Rescue
Gentle, antispasmodic herbs can offer relief, support a healthy inflammatory response within the body, and ease minor reproductive system discomfort. Here are a few of my favorite uterine calming herbs to use for relief of minor reproductive or pelvic pain:
Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus): Cramp bark is one of the best herbs for smooth muscle relaxation. It’s commonly used to ease menstrual discomfort and cramps, and support a calm, relaxed uterus. Start using it a few days before menstruation for the best results.
Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens): Also called Squaw Vine, Partridgeberry is a gentle astringent herb and tonic to strengthen the uterus. It’s helpful for most if not all uterine concerns and is widely used to support the menstrual cycle. Partridgeberry is a good choice for menstrual cramps, discomfort related to uterine weakness, and for support after labor and delivery.
Black haw bark (Viburnum prunifolium): Used interchangeably with cramp bark, Black haw is a traditional uterine tonic, regularly used by herbalists to help strengthen a weak uterus. Black haw not only supports normal circulation to the uterus, it also helps relax uterine cramps and contractions.
Oat flowers (Milky oats, Avena sativa): In Western herbalism, oat flowers are a traditional remedy for PMS symptoms and cramps. Oat flowers especially calm the nervous system and support balanced hormones and healthy sexuality. Some women report they ease vaginal dryness, too. Avoid oat flowers with gluten intolerance if there is cross-reactivity or possible cross contamination of gluten during the manufacturing process.
Focus on Healing
Being in pain locks up the body’s natural healing power and can affect the success of your natural fertility program. Trying to find the cause of reproductive pain is a good starting point and again, always seek medical attention if you’re unsure and your pain is severe and accompanied by additional concerning symptoms. Getting your body back in balance is the key to managing reproductive pain:
- Eat plenty of anti-inflammatory foods and follow a Fertility Diet for hormone balance and reproductive health.
- Consider a fertility cleanse as a foundational step for anyone dealing with a fertility health issue and in need of hormone balance support, especially for women with reproductive pain.
Essential oils are powerful remedies that can provide relief, but they must be used with care and guidance.
- Employ gentle herbs to ease minor reproductive discomfort. A specially-designed herbal formula like UteriCalm provides ongoing support and can be used safely for pre-conception needs.
- Pelvic Pain. (2016). Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/pelvic-pain/basics/causes/sym-20050898
- Slideshow: What’s Causing Your Pelvic Pain (2016). Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/women/ss/slideshow-pelvic-pain-causes
- Vaginismus. (2016). Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/women/guide/vaginismus-causes-symptoms-treatments
- Barton-Shuster, D., CH (2017). Implantation Support for Early Pregnancy. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/implantation-support-uterine-calming-herbs.html
- Whelan, R., (2011). Herbs A-Z: Cramp Bark. Retrieved from: http://www.rjwhelan.co.nz/herbs%20A-Z/crampbark.html
- Partridgeberry: Materia Medica. (2017) Retrieved from: http://chestnutherbs.com/partridgeberry-materia-medica/