How is dysmenorrhea treated?

Treatment for dysmenorrhea depends on its cause. For primary dysmenorrhea, there are many ways you can ease the pain, including taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, exercising regularly, applying heat to cramps and practicing relaxation techniques.

In some cases, your doctor may also prescribe birth control pills to lighten your period. Many hormonal contraceptives contain synthetic combinations of estrogen and progestin. These synthetic hormones keep your natural hormone levels stable, preventing ovulation and pregnancy.

For secondary dysmenorrhea, treatment depends on the underlying gynecological cause. For example, fibroids—benign uterine tumors—may be treated using medication, hormone therapy or surgery.

Several alternative treatments may help relieve the intense pain and cramping of dysmenorrhea:

  • Acupuncture may help relieve dysmenorrhea symptoms by boosting your body's production of natural pain killers.
  • Relaxation and stress reduction through yoga, massage and meditation can also help.
  • Heat therapy, whether through a warm bath, a hot water bottle or a heating pad, eases cramping pain.
  • Several dietary supplements including Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, and thiamin (Vitamin B1) may alleviate dysmenorrhea symptoms.
  • Some research also shows a low-fat vegetarian diet can reduce the duration and intensity of dysmenorrhea.

Talk to your gynecologist about whether this treatment option is right for you.

Dr. Shelley C. Giebel, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Birth control pills do decrease menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). The pill decreases the amount of menstrual flow which results in fewer cramps. It may take several months on the birth control pills before pain medications are not needed anymore. Most patients by 6 months no longer require pain medications.

Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health

Birth control pills or ring have often been used for decreasing menstrual pain. Although this is not the FDA approved use, the actual pathway of decreased dysmenorrhea with combined hormonal contraception is overall lower hormone levels and a daily balance of estradiol/progesterone. This leads to decreased production of prostaglandins, the culprit chemical for causing cramping.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.