There's a lot to unpack in this poster's question, which contains several parts, both said and unsaid:
- Should you women see their doctor about menstrual cramps that are bad enough they want to take a painkiller to relieve them?
- Is it safe to take ibuprofen on a regular basis?
- What are the possible side effects of ibuprofen — and when should you be worried?
- Is fatigue a possible side effect of ibuprofen?
- Could menstruation or PMS also be making this person tired, instead?
What did the people who joined the initial poster have to say, and what is the scientific perspective? Let's start investigating!
Ibuprofen and fatigue
Can ibuprofen make you tired? Here's what members of the SteadyHealth community had to say:
- Tiredness is one of the side effect of Ibuprofen.
- As you already said you take it to reduce your menstrual cramps and I think it is normal to take rest or sleep after.
- I think your body, since in pain, requires resting and sleep in order to recover.
- I think you don’t feel “tired”
- than sleepy which is sometimes usual when taken any painkiller.
Quite a few people reported that ibuprofen also made them tired:
- Not only did I become very fatigued, but I also started getting heart palpitations.
- The Ibuprofen made me tired.
- I agree, Ibuprofen knocks me out and even makes me groggy the whole next day.
- I take to reduce inflammation but I am just too groggy!
- Yeah it got me so sleepy to and I have a track race today :(
Other comments people made included notes about other medications — including Tylenol and aspirin — women took for period pains, and reports of side effects suffered:
- I went through a period of relying on ibuprofen for sore muscles after starting working out, and I thought there's no harm in it 'cause it's an anti-inflammatory and everything.
- I usually take Ibuprofen for my menstrual cramps.
- Ibuprofen is one of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs used to reduce pain, fever and inflammation caused by many conditions like headache, toothache, back pain, arthritis or menstrual cramps.
- I had to buy myself a bottle of aspirin to bring to work because I couldn't work while taking ibuprofen;
- I take aspirin for headaches and midol for menstrual cramps.
The SteadyHealth team reacts
Period pains can have a profound impact on a woman's quality of life, but because they're not always taken seriously and because women who live with them may not have considered that their doctor can help, many women will simply try to treat them at home. Over-the-counter painkillers are often a feature in this treatment plan, and ibuprofen is a common choice. Indeed, were you to seek medical attention for menstrual cramps, your doctor is quite likely to suggest it to you — alongside birth control pills, pain relievers are the only scientifically-proven way to reduce menstrual pain.
It is important, however, to know how you can use ibuprofen responsibly, what the possible side effects are, and when it's time to let your doctor know about possible side effects you're experiencing.
What are the side effects of ibuprofen?
Side effects of NSAIDs like ibuprofen include:
- Gastroinestinal — Nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating (which menstruation will also cause), constipation, and diarrhea
- Kidney — Water retention and other kidney problems, including in extreme cases kidney failure
- Cardiovascular — heart palpitations, a higher blood pressure, thrombosis, and even congestive heart failure
- Miscellaneous — Bleeding, Reye's syndrome, hives, and asthma attacks
- Nervous system — Headache, insomnia, seizures, vertigo, and yes, fatigue
It is important to let your doctor know right away if you experience any worrying symptoms that may have been caused by any medication you are taking.
How long can you safely take ibuprofen?
Not everyone can safely take ibuprofen, and it's also important to be aware that the long-term use of this NSAID and others may increase your risk of heart attack or stroke, as well as internal bleeding and stomach ulcers. It's always a good idea to ask your doctor or pharmacist what pain reliever is best for you, making sure to provide them with important information about your health and any other medications you may be taking. If ibuprofen is generally considered safe for you, it's usually OK to take it on an over-the-counter basis without consulting your doctor for less than 10 days.
Should you experience any side effects or just be worried that the symptoms you are having may potentially be side effects, however, let your doctor know and quit taking the drug in the meantime. Yes, I'm aware that's the second time I've said that, but it matters. Given the number of people on the thread who reported feeling groggy, drowsy, fatigued, or tired after taking ibuprofen, this response was quite surprising:
"I thought something was wrong with me glad to hear it happens to others and it's normal."
Other people reporting the same side effect doesn't mean the side effect is harmless or normal! It just means that other people have experienced the same side effect.
Is it normal to feel tired during menstruation?
Extreme fatigue during periods can be a sign of iron deficiency anemia, often related to menorrhagia, which is abnormally heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. It can also point to hypothyroidism, and in some cases even menstrual dysphoric disorder, a severe kind of PMS that sits on the depressive spectrum. See your doctor if you feel extremely tired while menstruating, whether you take painkillers or not.
What else can I do to relieve menstrual pain?
If you experience annoying but non-debilitating menstrual pains and have decided you would like to try to manage it without painkillers, you can see if these things do the trick for you:
- Heat — in the form of hot compresses, warm baths, or nice hot showers
- A TENS machine
- Birth control pills