Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for the painful cramps that may occur immediately before or during the menstrual period.
There are two types of dysmenorrhea: primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea.
Primary dysmenorrhea is another name for common menstrual cramps. Cramps usually begin one to two years after a woman starts getting her period. Pain usually is felt in the lower abdomen or back. They can be mild to severe.
- Aching pain in the abdomen
- Feeling of pressure in the abdomen
- Pain in the hips, lower back and inner thighs
- When cramps are severe, symptoms may include:
- Upset stomach, sometimes with vomiting
- Loose stools
Menstrual cramps are caused by contractions in the uterus, which is a muscle. The uterus, the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows, contracts throughout a woman's menstrual cycle. If the uterus contracts too strongly, it can press against nearby blood vessels, cutting off the supply of oxygen to the muscle tissue of the uterus. Pain results when part of a muscle briefly loses its supply of oxygen.
To relieve mild menstrual cramps:
Take pain relievers
Place a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower back or abdomen.
To relieve menstrual cramps, you should also:
- Rest when needed.
- Avoid foods that contain caffeine and salt.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Massage your lower back and abdomen.
- Women who exercise regularly often have less menstrual pain. To help prevent cramps, make exercise a part of your weekly routine.
- When a woman has a disease in her reproductive organs, cramping can be a problem. This type of cramping is called secondary dysmenorrhea. Conditions that can cause secondary dysmenorrhea include:
- Endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus is found outside of the uterus
- Pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection caused by bacteria that starts in the uterus and can spread to other reproductive organs
- Stenosis of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus often caused by scarring
- Tumors or growths on the inner wall of the uterus
Having these cramps can sometimes be severely painful and not to mention uncomfortable and annoying, but rest assured, they can be treated and the pain will go away within a few days.