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Taking Ibuprofen for Menstrual Cramps

June 04,2021

It’s that time of the month again, your period cramps have been acting up when you’re at an important meeting at work, exercising at the gym, and going out to dinner with friends. Thankfully, as soon as you pop an Ibuprofen…or two…or three, you feel better and are able to do the things you love. The minute you forget to take one, you’re weighed down by the fatigue and pain that comes with your monthly cycle.

Although, have you ever stopped and thought about how the short and long-term effects of ibuprofen could be affecting your health? Even though ibuprofen is considered a relatively safe medication you can use to manage painful periods, every drug has a few side effects you should be aware of.

What Is Ibuprofen?

In a recent article published by NBC News, a study was conducted in 2018 that showed that nearly 87 percent of people in the U.S. took a form of ibuprofen, Advil, or Motrin. However, very few people consider what this common pain reliever is and what the long-term effects of ibuprofen may be.

Unlike acetaminophen, ibuprofen belongs to the family of medicinal drugs known as: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Ibuprofen works by reducing hormones that cause pain, inflammation, and swelling in the body. If you regularly take ibuprofen, you may have noticed it takes about 30 to 45 minutes to begin working.

Additionally, many people don’t realize that ibuprofen goes by many different brand names such as: Advil, Motrin, Medipren, and Nuprin. Naproxen, another NSAID over-the-counter medication, is different from ibuprofen because it lasts longer, meaning you don’t have to take it as often. If you have a chronic condition, naproxen may be a better fit.

Although many of these over-the-counter pain meds may seem similar, ibuprofen should never be confused with acetaminophen drugs that are in a completely different category called non-opioid analgesic. The most common acetaminophen brand name is Tylenol.

Does Taking Ibuprofen for Period Cramps Work?

The short answer is yes, taking ibuprofen for period cramps will work. Ibuprofen works by slowing your body’s release of hormones such as prostaglandin. When you produce less prostaglandin, your uterus will shed less which leads to cramps and bleeding.

Before you take ibuprofen for menstrual cramps, you will want to be aware of the quantity, time between doses, and the type of pain reliever you are using. Most ibuprofen pills are 200mg, and doctors typically recommend taking one every four to six hours. You should never exceed 800mg unless discussing with your doctor beforehand. You may be wondering what happens if you exceed the recommended dosage and we want you to know that the answer may vary from person to person depending on your health and family history.

Long-Term Effects of Ibuprofen

Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, especially after consulting with your physician, from time to time like ibuprofen for menstrual cramps is usually considered safe. However, even taking 400mg to 600 mg every now and then can have a few short-term effects such as:

  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain

Although these short-term side effects are not considered life-threatening or serious, it’s good to know that these can happen after taking ibuprofen for heavy periods. Also, you should be careful about taking ibuprofen for period cramps if you plan to drink alcohol later that day.

Even though ibuprofen is generally safe for short-term usage, there are a few uncommon long-term effects of ibuprofen that you should be aware of; these include:

  • Stomach bleeding or ulcers
  • Kidney damage
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Liver failure
  • Allergic reactions
  • Heart attack or stroke

Some of these serious health conditions are contingent on having a personal or family history of heart, clotting, or liver issues before taking ibuprofen. We’ll dive deeper into two serious long-term effects of ibuprofen so you can be aware of the potential risks.

Does Ibuprofen Increase Stroke Risk?

If you’re wondering, “Does Ibuprofen increase stroke risk?” your answer will depend on a few different health factors. In a recent study published by Medical News Today, ibuprofen increased the risk of stroke by more than three times. Your ibuprofen and stroke risk increases if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Personal or family history of stroke or heart attack.
  • Clotting disorders such as hemophilia, anemia, etc.
  • Medications that negatively affect your blood’s ability to clot normally.
  • Uterine fibroids or adenomyosis which can cause heavy periods leading to anemia.

The dangers of ibuprofen are still considered to be rare for most people who are not at risk. Consult your physician before taking ibuprofen for menstrual cramps so you can determine the correct dosage and frequency.

Ibuprofen and Ulcer Risk

Understanding how NSAIDs work can help reduce your worry about ibuprofen and ulcer risks. Peptic ulcers are the most commonly associated issue when taking ibuprofen for menstrual cramps over a long period of time. If you’re taking high doses of ibuprofen to manage period pain or chronic conditions like arthritis or other inflammatory diseases, your ibuprofen and ulcer risk may increase.

The reason taking ibuprofen for menstrual cramps or other chronic pain issues can cause ulcers is NSAIDs interfere with the stomach’s ability to protect itself from gastric acids. These protective layers in your stomach, esophagus, and intestines are extremely important for digestion, but can be eaten away over time from extended ibuprofen use.

So, does this mean you should avoid NSAIDs just because of an ibuprofen and ulcer risk? Not exactly. Thankfully, there are a few steps you can take to protect your stomach and intestine’s lining, such as:

  • Ask your doctor about medications that can protect the lining.
  • Eat a large meal before taking ibuprofen.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Reduce the amount you take or switch to an NSAID like naproxen you can take less.

It’s important to always consult your doctor before taking ibuprofen for period cramps so you can learn more about additional preventative measures.

Benefits and Risks of Taking Ibuprofen for Menstrual Cramps

Using ibuprofen for menstrual cramps from time to time can help manage painful period symptoms, especially if you have uterine fibroids or adenomyosis. Just make sure you consult a physician before taking more than the recommended dose and if you are planning to take ibuprofen for an extended amount of time.

If you are planning to use ibuprofen for heavy periods caused by fibroids or adenomyosis, it’s important to find an effective solution. This is so you can avoid the long-term effects of ibuprofen as well as get relief from painful symptoms. The dangers of ibuprofen increase over time and amount taken, so finding treatment for fibroids or adenomyosis is a healthier option.

Thankfully, women who struggle with painful fibroid or adenomyosis symptoms and rely on using ibuprofen for menstrual cramps have numerous treatment choices, including non-surgical alternatives like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE).

Treating Period Pain Caused by Fibroids or Adenomyosis

If you’re constantly relying on ibuprofen for period cramps caused by fibroids or adenomyosis, we want you to know there are other, effective and safe options to choose from.

Uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive, outpatient treatment that can treat fibroid pain. During UFE, the fibroids’ blood supply is cut off causing it to shrink. Over time, the body naturally absorbs the fibroid and painful symptoms should subside. UFE gives women the freedom to stop using ibuprofen for heavy periods and other fibroid symptoms. With UFE, women can avoid the long-term effects of ibuprofen and live life free of painful symptoms.

If you’re someone who regularly relies on ibuprofen for menstrual cramps or heavy bleeding caused by fibroids, give us a call at 855.455.5262 so we can give you the information you need about UFE as well as help find a treatment center near you.

The Fibroid Fighters Foundation is here to help answer any questions you may have about both surgical and non-surgical treatment options. Don’t keep relying on ibuprofen for period cramps or other fibroid symptoms, take action today.

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