According to a new study from the Institute of Brain Science at National Yang-Ming University of Taipei in Tawai, menstrual cramps have the ability to impact a woman’s brain. Researchers compared the brain activity of 32 young women who have moderate to severe menstrual pain to 32 young women who do not have as much pain.
The women who reported painful cramps showed abnormalities in brain tissue called gray matter. Abnormalities consisted of decreases volumes in brain regions responsible for pain processing, higher-level sensory processing and emotional regulation. The women also experienced increased brain regions involved with regulation of endocrine function and pain modulation.
These abnormalities suggest that menstrual pain may be similar to chronic pain, as over time, the brain will become unusually sensitive to pain, making the feeling more severe.
Menstrual cramps occur when the uterus contracts during menstruation and are the most common gynecological disorder in women of childbearing age.