Trust your gut feeling

Most women experience cramps or twinges in the abdomen from time to time. There are so many possible causes of such nuances, most often harmless, but nevertheless not to be

  • PublishedJune 20, 2012

Most women experience cramps or twinges in the abdomen from time to time. There are so many possible causes of such nuances, most often harmless, but nevertheless not to be ignored. Most women tend to ignore discomforts around the abdomen area, convincing themselves its nothing serious, yet deep down may have nagging doubts. When in doubt, always trust your gut feeling. See a doctor and let him be the one to tell you there is nothing to worry about.

According to a study published in the US journal Cancer, many women diagnosed with ovarian cancer complained of symptoms such as abdominal pain at least four months (and up to 36 months) before they were diagnosed. Dubbed the silent killer, ovarian cancer is often only picked up at its late stages, when prognosis is poor. While bloated feelings and pains in the side
or lower abdomen are some of the early signs of ovarian cancer, such symptoms are more likely to be caused by much more common conditions. There are many organs in the abdomen and pain can be related to any of them. One should not worry unnecessarily when bloating and pain occur in the abdominal area, thinking they have ovarian cancer, but nevertheless must
remain observant of any persistent pain and changes that may occur.

Reading the signs…

While no woman should result to self-diagnosis, it is important to know what
may be causing the pain in your abdomen and when to be concerned. Your body will give you clues as to what system or organ the pain is linked to, but you have to be in touch with your body to read the signs correctly.

Problems within the reproductive system are perhaps the most common cause of abdominal pain and are made worse by the menstrual cycle. If the problems are related to your menstrual cycle, you will notice a pattern every four weeks. If it is to do with your reproductive organs such as the vagina or cervix, it may hurt when you are having or have had sex. If it is a problem to do with the digestive system, you may have problems passing stool or after eating.

If the pain occurs briefly in your mid-cycle (two weeks after the first day of
your period), you could be experiencing ovulation pain. This is thought to be caused by a small leakage of blood from the ovary that occurs at the time of ovulation. Ovulation pain is more common in teenagers and women in their 30s. The pain is usually concentrated on one side of the abdomen, but is more often felt on the right side just above the groin. It can be quite bad, often made worse by movement, and may last a few hours.

In some women, the pain can be disabling and similar to appendicitis, and
should therefore not be ignored. Anti-inflammatory painkillers may help, but the most effective treatment is to stop the woman from ovulating. The doctor will put her on the Pill, unless she is planning a pregnancy, in which case the pregnancy itself will stop the pain. Unless the pain gets worse each month, ovulation pain is nothing to worry about. In most women it automatically ceases once you start having children.

Period pains…

Menstrual cramps should not be a source of worry if they are following their
normal pattern. Bad period pain can make your life miserable, but you should not put up with it because there are effective painkillers to deal with the problem. If the pain goes on after your period has finished, especially if it gets worse, it is worth seeing a doctor because you could be developing a gynaecological disorder, such as endometriosis. Also seek help if your periods have become heavier, longer or more painful as there could be a more serious underlying cause.

Always visit a doctor if there is a change to your normal menstrual pattern.
If abdominal pain is something you have had for a long time and it has fallen into a pattern, it is unlikely to be something serious. Even if the pattern is that you have pain one month, but not the next, you have no reason to worry. Whatever is going on, if you have had the same pattern for more than a year, it is probably not a problem. But any pain that is slowly getting steadily worse
needs to get you concerned and prompt you to visit a doctor.

Getting bloated…

Many women feel bloated at any time, especially after a heavy meal, so don’t go assuming the worst. Normal bloating feels better in the morning, varies throughout the day and gets worse by the evening, especially if you don’t have a lot of movement. People with ovarian cancer don’t feel bloated, they swell in the stomach because they are developing fluid. Bloating is often down to the bowels and is linked to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

To help make diagnosis of your problem easier, think carefully about your symptoms before you visit a doctor. Does anything make the pain worse? Where exactly does it hurt? Is it affected by eating or by the time of the month? The more you think about your pain, the easier it is for you to tell a clear
story, and the clearer the story, the easier it is for a doctor to make a correct diagnosis.

It is always worth visiting a doctor and double-checking any abdominal pain. It
may be IBS, normal bloating or digestion issue, but whatever the cause turns out to be, getting it checked is never a waste of time.

When to see a doctor

*If the pain is getting worse.

*If period pain continues once your period has

*If the pain is sudden and severe and different
from your normal pattern.

*If pain is accompanied by fever, shortness of
breath, dizziness, bleeding or vomiting.

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