What is Dysmenorrhea?
Menstruation happens when the uterus (womb) sheds its lining once a month. Some pain, cramping, and discomfort felt during menstrual periods are sometimes normal. However, too much pain that causes one to miss work or school is not normal.
Dysmenorrhea is also called painful menstruation.
There are generally two types of Dysmenorrhea:
Primary and Secondary Dysmenorrhea
Primary Dysmenorrhea: This occurs in people who develop pain before and during menstruation. If one has had normal periods that become painful later on in life, it may be known as Secondary Dysmenorrhea.
What Condition Makes You at Risk of Experiencing Dysmenorrhea?
These risks include:
Being under 20
Reaching puberty before age 11
Having irregular periods
Having a family history of painful periods
Never had a baby before
Having heavy bleeding with periods
A hormone known as prostaglandin incites the contractions of muscles in the uterus that forces out the lining, which causes pain and inflammation. The level of prostaglandin increases just before menstruation starts.
Causes of Dysmenorrhea
Painful menstrual periods can also be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as:
Premenstrual Syndrome: PMS is a common condition caused by changes in hormones. These hormonal changes that happen in the body last up to 1 to 2 weeks before menstruation starts. Signs usually go away as soon as the bleeding starts.
Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a painful health condition in which cells from the lining of the uterus develop in other parts of the body, typically on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or the tissues that line the pelvis.
Fibroids in the uterus: Fibroids are tumors that are non-cancerous. They exert pressure on the uterus or result in abnormal menstruation and pain, although they often do not cause symptoms.
Adenomyosis: This is a condition usually rare in which the uterine lining develops into the muscular wall of the uterus leading to inflammation, pressure, and pain. It also causes longer or heavier periods.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries that are often caused by sexually transmitted diseases, particularly bacteria that cause inflammation of the reproductive organs and as well as pain.
When trying to discover the underlying cause of one’s painful menstruation, the doctor will likely take your medical history and even conduct a thorough physical examination. This will include a pelvic examination for detection of any abnormalities in the reproductive system and as well as to search for any signs of infection.
If your doctor thinks an underlying disorder is the cause of your symptoms, and imaging tests might be performed.
These tests can include:
- An ultrasound
- An MRI
- A CT scan
Home-care Treatment of Dysmenorrhea
Treatments options at home can be helpful most times in easing off painful menstrual periods.
Types of treatment to try at home include:
« Taking vitamins and supplements such as Calcium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E.
« Massaging your abdomen.
« Taking a warm bath.
« Doing regular physical exercise.
« Eating light but nutritious meals.
« Practising relaxation techniques or yoga.
« Reducing intake of salt, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar to prevent bloating.
If home treatment isn’t effective in helping out to ease menstrual pain, medical treatment options can be considered.
Treatment depends hugely on the severity and underlying cause of the pain. If pelvic inflammatory disease or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are the cause of your pain, antibiotics will be prescribed by your doctor to help treat the infection.
Prescribed medications by your doctor may include:
Anti-depressants: They are sometimes prescribed to help reduce certain mood swings linked to PMS.
Pain relievers: These include over-the-counter (OTC) options like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or more powerful prescription pain medications.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): One can get these drugs over the counter or as well get prescription-strength NSAIDs from your doctor.
Hormonal Birth Control: This may also be suggested by your doctor to try. Hormonal birth control is available and can be gotten in the form of pills, patches, vaginal rings, injections, implants, or IUDs. Hormones prevent ovulation, which can help in controlling menstrual pain.
Surgery: Surgery can treat menstrual cramps caused by endometriosis or uterine fibroids. This is an option that should be considered if other treatments tried haven’t been too successful. The surgery clears any endometriosis implants, uterine fibroids, or cysts.
In not too common cases, a hysterectomy known as the surgical removal of the uterus or womb may be considered an option if other treatments aren’t effective and pain is still severe. If a hysterectomy is performed on you, you will no longer be able to birth children. This option is only done if one isn’t planning on having children or has almost completed their childbearing years.
When to See a Doctor
If menstrual pain is disturbing your performance of basic tasks every month, it is very important to consult a gynecologist.
See a doctor about the symptoms you experience, such as
Pelvic pain when not menstruating
- Cramping followed by nausea and diarrhea
- Passing blood clots
- Continuing pain after IUD placement
- At least three painful menstrual periods
Sudden cramping or pain in the pelvic region could be obvious signs of an infection. An infection not treated can cause scars on the tissue, which could damage the pelvic organs and may result in infertility.
If you experience symptoms of an Infection below, it’s important to see a doctor.
The symptoms of the infection include:
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Serious pelvic pain
- Sudden pain, especially if pregnant
In conclusion, menstrual pain lasts not more than 12 to 72 hours, and one might develop other indications such as nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and as well as diarrhea. Common menstrual cramps may become less painful as one gets older and may stop finally when one has a baby.
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