You’re approaching menopause and are suffering from ovary pain? You’ve come to the right place. We’ll give you some information about perimenopause, causes of ovary pain including ovulation and ovarian cysts, and then outline some of the treatment options.
Keep on reading for everything you need to know about ovary pain during menopause and perimenopause!
What is Perimenopause?
Before menopause comes perimenopause, which is when a woman experiences a number of changes or fluctuations in her body.
When a woman goes without menstruation for 12 straight months, they will have reached menopause. This is when they officially stop conceiving.
Most women reach this phase during their 40s, although it can occur to some in their early 30s or later in their 50s. Perimenopause can last between 4 to 8 years and it is quite common for women to experience a number of symptoms during this stage.
Some women usually experience a difference in both the timing and heaviness of their period in the earlier stages of perimenopause. And in the latter stages, women usually start missing about two menstrual cycles in a row.
Perimenopause Symptoms: Caused by Changing Hormones
One of the most prominent changes during perimenopause is the fluctuations of the ovarian reproductive organs; estrogen and progesterone.
Though the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop once a woman reaches menopause, they tend to be either lower or higher than they normally are during perimenopause.
When it comes to testosterone levels, many studies declare that changes in this hormone are related to age rather than menopause. Testosterone levels in most women start declining in their 30s and when they reach menopause, the levels are half of what they used to be.
Learn More about Perimenopause
What is Ovary Pain and What Causes it?
Pain during ovulation is experienced as a result of women menstruating. During their menstrual period, women experience abdominal cramping, which leads to pain around the womb, the uterus, and the ovaries.
Each month during a menstrual period, the uterine muscles contract, thereby enabling the uterus to shed its lining, which is what causes menstrual cramps.
When the cells of the uterine lining break down at the beginning of a menstrual cycle, prostaglandins are released. These are lipids that constrict the blood vessels in the uterus or make them smaller, which also causes the outer muscular layer to constrict. This constriction process is what causes cramping.
Most women experience extreme pain during their menstrual pains due to a number of underlying medical conditions, including:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease or PID
During perimenopause, women experience longer and heavier periods of bleeding and more severe cramping sensations during menstruation. These changes are because of the fluctuations of both estrogen and progesterone hormone levels.
Painful Ovulation (Mittelschmerz)
Pain during ovulation, or middle pain happens occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle. It can range from just a mild discomfort to severe pain and it can last for hours.
For treatment, over the counter pain medication is often recommended. If it’s very severe birth control that prevents ovulation may be recommended.
Check in with your doctor to see if this treatment option is good for you, or not.
What about Ovarian Cysts?
An ovarian cyst is a growth in, or on the outside of the ovaries. Oftentimes, an ovarian cyst doesn’t cause any problems, and they can be non-cancerous.
However, as the cyst gets bigger, you may experience some of the following things:
- Bleeding at unexpected times
- Painful bowel movements, or intercourse
- Pain before or during menstruation
- Breast tenderness
- Nausea or vomiting
If you these symptoms, you should check in with your doctor. But, seek immediate medical attention for the following things. They can indicate that the cyst is ruptured which is a serious medical problem.
- Sharp or sever pain
- Fever, fainting or dizziness
- Difficultly breathing
Treatment for Ovarian Cysts
As long as they’re small, you may not even know that they’re there. Unless it grows large, or ruptures, your doctor may recommend just leaving it alone.
However, some of the treatment options include:
- Birth control pills if you get recurring ovarian cysts
- Laparoscopy or Laparotomy to remove the cyst
Learn more about Ovarian Cysts
Other than irregular menstruation, some women may not even experience any of the physical symptoms of perimenopause. But others may experience fluctuations in their reproductive hormones leading to a wide range of symptoms.
Typically, the symptoms linked with hormonal changes are related to the functions they serve for the body. For instance:
High estrogen levels may cause:
- Heavier bleeding
- Breast tenderness
Low estrogen levels may cause:
- Vaginal dryness
- Night sweats and hot sweats
- Unexplained exhaustion
- Osteoporosis or loss of bone density and integrity
- The uterine lining is less thick, which results in less regular shedding and menstruation
- Weight gain
Progesterone is associated with menstruation and ovulation and women will experience less of this symptom during perimenopause.
Lower progesterone levels may cause:
- Irregular menstruation
- Heavier than normal menstruation
- Longer than normal menstruation
Depression and mood changes being related to hormones are still not clear as of now. What is now, however, is that women who are in poor health, under a lot of stress, or have a history of depression are more likely to experience symptoms of depression during perimenopause and menopause.
Possible Treatments for Ovary Pain
Fortunately, there are various ways to prevent or treat painful cramps right from home. Some of the most effective and popular treatments include:
- A warm bath or a shower
- Deep breathing
- Placing a heating pad, heated bag, or a hot bottle on your abdomen for 20 minutes
- Gentle exercises such as swimming, walking or yoga
- Gently massaging the abdomen
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, which would otherwise escalate muscle cramping and pain
Livia for Period Pain
One new, interesting thing that you may want to try for painful menstrual cramps is the Livia. They company calls it the, “off-switch” for period pain. According to customer reviews, and some scientific studies, it really does work.
The Livia is basically like a TENS machine that you’d use for muscle pain at the physiotherapist’s office. In this case, the Livia emits a special frequency that disrupts menstrual cramps.
Sounds like it might be exactly what you need? It is kind of expensive, however it does come with a warranty and a money-back guarantee so you really have nothing to lose if it doesn’t work out for you.
You can learn more about it here: The Livia Review. Or, check it out for yourself over on Amazon:
Over the Counter Medications for Ovary Pain During Perimenopause
If these aren’t enough to relieve your abdominal pain and cramping, then there is a vast set of OTC medications available that can do the job.
Some of these include:
- non-narcotic pain-relieving or analgesic medications
- medications with acetylsalicylic acids, such as Asprin
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or NSAIDs
- analgesic transdermal pads or gels with menthol, camphor, methyl salicylate or capsaicin.
Hormonal Birth Control, or Prescription Pain Medication
Women suffering from severe cramping may have their doctors prescribe a low-dose birth control pill, patch, ring, or an IUD that regulates periods and make them less heavy.
On rare occasions, women experiencing severe pain related to menstruation or perimenopause could temporarily be given prescription grade pain medications.
Diet and Lifestyle Changes
Another way to manage or reduce perimenopause symptoms is through dietary and lifestyle changes. You can try any of the following:
- Eating a balanced, healthy diet that is full of diverse nutrients
- Keeping yourself hydrated in order to lower overall pain and inflammation
- Eating low-fat foods and drinks or reducing your overall intake of fats such as saturated or trans-fats
- Include lots of foods that are high in fiber, including nuts, whole beans, cereals, grains, fruits, and vegetables to smoothen digestion as well as help the body get rid of waste estrogen and prostaglandins into your diet
- Eat foods that have lean proteins such as skinless chicken, fish, and plant proteins rather than red proteins.
- Limiting your intake of refined sugars and wheat.
- Regularly exercising
- Avoiding packaged, fried, preserved or processed foods
- Limiting stress whenever possible.
Alternative Therapies for Perimenopause Ovary Pain
Alternative therapies can also help to reduce perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms, like:
- Meditation and visualization
Despite limited evidence to back up their use, there are a handful of supplements and certain vitamins in high doses that are believed to help manage or reduce pain and cramping.
However, you must exercise caution when using supplements because they can likely cause adverse side effects or interfere with other medications that you might be taking. That is why it is always a good practice to ask your doctor before taking them.
Herbal and Vitamin Supplements for Ovary Pain
Some of the herbal and vitamin supplements that you can try include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Black cohosh
- Red clover
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
- Wild yam
- Dong Quai
- Evening primrose oil
Want to find out more about some of the recommend supplements for people in perimenopause? You can learn more here: Supplements for Perimenopausal Women.
What about Ovarian Cancer and Perimenopause?
Ovarian cancer starts in the ovaries and from there, it can spread to other parts of the body. Even though it can happen at any age, it’s most common in people over 50, the age at which most people are in menopause. About half the cases of Ovarian cancer are among people older than 63.
This kind of cancer can start in three different kinds of cells:
- Epithelia cells that line the surface of the ovaries
- Germ cells that produce eggs
- Stomal cells that produce estrogen and progesterone
Ovarian cancer is particularly deadly. More than 60% of people who are diagnosed with it end up dying from it.
Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer
It should be noted that menopause doesn’t increase your chance of Ovarian cancer, it’s just that the older you are, the higher the risk you have of getting it. That said, there are a few things that can impact your risk. They include:
- Starting menopause late, after the age of 52 because you’ll ovulate more times.
- Taking birth control pills that stop ovulation can lower your risk.
- Using hormone replacement therapy to deal with the symptoms of perimenopause symptoms can increase your risk.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
It’s important to know the symptoms of ovarian cancer. This is especially true because they can often mimic the signs of perimenopause. They include the following:
- Weight loss
- Pelvic pain
- Bleeding or spotting post-menopause
- Urgent need to urinate
- Pain during sex
It’s important to seek help from your doctor if you’re experiencing these things. It’s not “just” perimenopause and there may be more going on.
When To See Your Doctor about Ovary Pain During Perimenopause
You should see your doctor if you experience chronic, severe, or unexplainable abdominal pain. In addition, you should also consult with your doctor if you experience irregular periods or menstruation that are heavier than usual.
You can also inquire about important information on how to relieve yourself of perimenopausal symptoms such as night sweats, vaginal dryness, hot flashes or insomnia.
Perimenopause Ovary Pain: Have your Say
Any questions or thoughts about ovary pain during perimenopause? Leave a comment below and let us know.