Gynecology, What's Up, Down There
Bloating, acne, fatigue, and abdominal cramps are common period symptoms that many of us know all too well. But recently, a TikTok user shed light on another surprising period symptom… “butt cramps.” The video sparked much discussion with women commiserating and wondering what causes this odd and bothersome pain. Here, we explore the science behind this type of cramping and what can be done to treat it.
In the words of women on TikTok, the cramping can feel like a sudden, “lightning bolt strike” or “painful muscle spasms in your booty.” As it turns out, there is a real medical term for this phenomenon known as “proctalgia fugax” or “fleeting anal pain.” According to medical experts, it is normal to experience cramps in your abdomen, back, and yes, even your anus, during your period. Our bodies are full of surprises, aren’t they?
Gina Cunningham, PT, DPT, Director of the Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Program at Axia Women’s Health, explains, “I’ve treated many women with this condition. It’s actually more common than you may think.” She adds, “It usually happens around ovulation or the day before your period. It can feel like a sharp sudden pain or can last up to 20 minutes.”
During your period, hormones called prostaglandins are released, which cause the muscles of the uterus to contract, causing the lining of the uterus to shed. Prostaglandins can also trigger contractions of the rectum and the pelvic floor muscles around the anal canal, which can cause a painful spasm or cramping feeling back there. This is why it’s also common to experience loose bowels or diarrhea during your period.
In cases of occasional cramping, you may find some relief with at-home treatments and relaxation techniques.
While it’s common to experience some cramping during your period, it’s important to be aware of other potential causes. Certain underlying conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids can cause similar pain in the pelvic area and require medical attention.
Other gastrointestinal issues can cause ongoing pain in your rectum or anus including Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
While it’s often not cause for alarm, Dr. Gina Cunningham suggests, “If you’re experiencing this pain with each cycle, it’s important to speak up and have it checked out.”
March 15, 2022
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