Dysmenorrhea is also known as menstrual cramps or the painful periods. This condition is described as a throbbing and cramping pain in the stomach (lower abdomen). Many women experience the menstrual cramps in the beginning or during their flow.
For most of the women, the discomfort periods brings is really annoying. While for some of the women the extreme pain interferes with their daily activities for almost 7 days every month. Medical health problems like endometriosis and uterine fibroid can cause severe menstrual cramps in women. The main key for reducing the pain is to treat the condition. If the cramps are not caused by any condition then they will decrease with age. The cramps may also be reduced after giving birth.
The symptoms of Dysmenorrhea includes:
• Dull and continuous ache
• Throbbing and cramping pain in the lower abdomen. This pain can be very intense.
• Pain in the lower back as well as the thigh
• The pain which just starts 1 to 3 days before the period and gets intense in 24 hours as your period begins. The cramps come to an end after 2 to 3 days.
Some of the women also experience:
• A headache
• Loose Motions
When Should You Consult a Doctor?
Consult your doctor if you experience extreme menstrual cramps each and every month and if your symptoms progressively get worse. You should also consult a doctor if you begin having severe menstrual cramps after you get 25.
What is the Difference Between Menstrual Cramps and Pre-Menstrual Syndrome?
There is a huge difference between menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome. In PMS a woman gets mood swings, her breast becomes sore and gets a bloating feeling in the stomach before the period begins. The symptoms get reduced as the period starts. While in Dysmenorrhea, the symptoms are worst in the first few days of the mensuration. They have a different cause and a treatment.
During the menstrual cycle, the uterus contracts to break and expel its lining. Substances similar to hormones called prostaglandins are responsible for the pain and inflammation. Prostaglandins trigger the uterine contractions. The intensity of menstrual cramps is associated with the production of prostaglandins. In simple words, higher levels of prostaglandins will cause extreme and severe menstrual cramps.
Dysmenorrhea can be classified as Primary Dysmenorrhea and Secondary Dysmenorrhea. In primary Dysmenorrhea the cramps are due to the menstrual cycle. While in secondary Dysmenorrhea, the woman will be having a problem in one of her reproductive organs, which results in severe cramps. Secondary Dysmenorrhea is a term used by the doctors. The conditions which can cause it are:
In endometriosis, the tissues which line your uterus implants itself outside the uterus. It can be whether on fallopian tissues, on ovaries or on the tissues which line the pelvis.
In this condition, the tissues which line the uterus begins their growth in the muscular walls of the uterus.
• Cervical stenosis
In some women, the opening called cervix is too small for the proper blood flow during menstruation. It creates a pressure in the uterus which results in menstrual cramps.
• Uterine fibroid
On the wall of the uterus, there are some non-cancerous growths which cause menstrual pain.
• Pelvic inflammatory disease
It is an infection in the female reproductive organ. The cause of the pelvic inflammatory disease is sexually transmitted bacteria.
There are greater chances to get menstrual cramps if:
• You smoke.
• One bleeds heavily during the periods called menorrhagia.
• There is a family history of menstrual cramps.
• One hits the puberty at an early age of 11 and younger.
• You do not have regular periods. The irregular bleeding is called metrorrhagia.
• The woman is younger than 30.
Menstrual cramp only brings you discomfort and can interfere with your daily and social activities of school as well as work. They do not result in any other medical complication. However, the conditions which are linked with menstrual cramps may have complications.
For example, the condition called endometriosis can bring you fertility problem while the pelvic inflammatory disease may cause the scar to your fallopian tubes. This will increase the risk of implantation of the fertilized egg outside your uterus, this type of pregnancy is called an ectopic pregnancy.
Treatment of Dysmenorrhea
• Anti-inflammatory medication
If you experience severe menstrual cramps, then try out asteroidal anti-inflammatory medication for 1 to 2 days on the set of your mensuration. These medications are called as anti-prostaglandins. They work against the prostaglandins that is they reduce the cramping effects. It helps the women to have a lighter flow with less discomfort as the uterus cramps less.
Also, try out over-the-counter medications which contain ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. Always keep this in mind that you read the label to know how frequently and what dose is needed to be taken. Do not try out these medications if one is allergic to it and have stomach related problems like ulcers. Always try to take these medications with some food.
• Hormonal treatment
The oral contraceptive pills, also known as birth control pills are taken to thin out the uterus lining. This will reduce the blood flow as well as the cramping. Hormonal treatments such as patch, depo-provera, hormonal implants, vaginal hormonal ring, and IUD are also used to lessen the blood flow. These medications are also taken by many of the women to stop their periods.
Yoga is a type of exercise. It has proven to help some of the women with their menstrual cramps.
By using a microwavable heating pack or a heating pad on your lower abdomen may help to lessen your pain. But always keep in mind that the heating pad is not so hot that it may burn your skin.
Acupuncture is a therapy which is used to treat dysmenorrhea. It is an ancient Chinese practice in which needles are inserted into your body at specific points in order to regulate the energy flow. According to a recent research, acupuncture can help women in improving their menstrual mood swings as well as improve other symptoms too.