Managing Period Pain Without The Contraceptive Pill

February 27, 2016

I discuss periods occasionally on the blog because while menstruation is a ridiculously taboo subject to raise, it’s still a fact of life.  It may be a given that periods aren’t the most comfortable monthly experience, but it doesn’t mean you should be suffering.

Ever since my first period I’ve had to deal with pain tremendous pain.  My painful periods – or Dysmenorrhea – was so bad I was put onto the contraceptive “Pill”, and from then on I went from brand to brand, resolving to find the perfect answer to my monthly nightmare.  

The new Zoely brand was the last contraceptive Pill I used, and following my pregnancy/miscarriage saga and now trying for a baby again situation, I’m back in the meantime to that old familiar scene of agonising pain.


But it’s not been all bad.  When I withdrew from the Pill last year my GP, knowing my history, prescribed me mefenamic acid.  I’d never heard of it before nor thought it could ever do anything since my pain is the worst.  But I was to be surprised.

Mefenamic acid is a prescription NSAID, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, like ibuprofen.  With this in mind, I was cautious about using it while trying for a baby, since NSAIDs are risky in pregnancy.  But as I’m using it to treat period pain I know I’m not pregnant, so personally I’m happy to take it for this purpose.

So what does mefenamic acid do?  For me, it dramatically reduces my pain, the amount of shedding, and shortens my overall period.  It doesn’t remove all the pain I get, but most of it.  If I didn’t take mefenamic acid, I would be in agony with acute cramping, so mild pain is still a massive improvement.

When I’ve taken mefenamic acid I’ve found it to be so responsive.  The trick is to take the first dose soon enough.  When your period shows it first signs (pink blood show, a slight sensation or early cramping), you take your first tablet.  Taking the mefenamic acid at this point as opposed to waiting for the pain to get going means it nips it in the bud before you get to any severe stage.

Like all painkillers you have to be careful and aware of any existing conditions you may have.  I find mefenamic acid plays up my IBS giving me uncomfortable trapped wind, slight diarrhoea and constipation, and I can feel a little nauseous and dizzy too.  Obviously this isn’t great, so you have to weigh up the pros and cons, considering your own limitations.  Personally I think my IBS symptoms and a little sickness is more manageable than acute period pain, so I choose to lay importance on my worst issue.


Mefenamic acid isn’t a miracle worker; it doesn’t completely remove pain, and I still feel the need to nurse my tummy.  This is where heat pads and hot soothing baths can help with feeling a little more comforted.  But, mefenamic acid helps stop the pain from worsening to the point where I wouldn’t be able to sit and watch TV, I’d be in total distress, and that’s where its worth comes in, for me.

If you suffer with acute period pain that’s unbearable and doesn’t respond to the usual painkillers (who isn’t familiar with Feminax), I would encourage you to ask your GP about mefenamic acid.  Too many doctors unnecessarily push period pain sufferers toward the Pill, but it isn’t right for everyone and there are increased health risks which are unavoidable if you don’t need or want to commit to the contraceptive Pill.  If you just want something you can reach for at that time of the month, it may be worth a try.

Do you have period pain problems?  Do you struggle with monthly pain management or have you found your own personal pain saviour?  I’d love to hear what you’ve found works or doesn’t.


  1. lauranne

    February 29, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    I have PCOS and nothing I was ever prescribed by a doctor did me any good. It had gotten so bad that I would spend the first day of my period doubled up in pain, drifting in and out of consciousness… not ideal!

    In the end I turned to homeopathy and (touch wood) things have never been better. yes I still get period pains, but nothing that isn’t cured by a hot water bottle and a couple of painkillers.

    1. Becky Magson

      March 2, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      Hi Lauranne

      So sorry to hear of your PCOS but I’m glad you’ve found something that helps alleviate the pain. I don’t believe you should take mefenamic acid with PCOS anyway so just as well you don’t take it. I remember when I first started my periods it was like being in labour and occasionally I’d pass out. The Pill kind of rectified it for me but it’s trying to return now I’m off it. I don’t think some people realise how debilitating period pain can really be.

      Becky x

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