Dysmenorrhea (Painful Periods)

Dysmenorrhea (Painful Periods)

Dysmenorrhea (Painful Periods)
Many women are plagued by menstrual cramps from time to time, but did you know that there is a medical term for it? Dysmenorrhea is the official name for menstrual cramps. Cramps can occur right before your period is about to start, and might continue for several days. While some women may be able to cope with these lower abdominal cramps, they may at times, debilitate you. You may sometimes notice other symptoms that coincide with the cramps including diarrhea, sweating, nausea, and/or feeling faint. Some women find that medication helps to ease their menstrual cramps while others swear by the use of a heating pad and other non-drug therapies. Interestingly, childbirth can sometimes put an end to dysmenorrheal unless it has been caused by a medical state. Talk to your doctor to discuss pain relief options that will work for you.

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    Dysmenorrhea is a medical term that means "pain with menstruation." There are two classifications of dysmenorrhea, primary and secondary.
     
    Primary dysmenorrhea is what most women know as menstrual cramps. They may begin a few days before menstruation and are due to contractions of the uterus, believed to be caused by high levels of hormones called prostaglandins. More than half of women with dysmenorrhea have primary dysmenorrhea, and in 5 to 15 percent of these women, menstrual cramps are severe enough to cause absence from school, work or other activities.

    Secondary dysmenorrhea is menstrual pain that is caused by some other condition in the reproductive system. In women who have secondary dysmenorrhea, pain and discomfort may be more severe and last longer than in women who have primary dysmenorrhea. Some common conditions that can cause secondary dysmenorrhea include:
    • endometriosis, a condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus, often in the fallopian tubes, on the ovaries, behind the uterus or on the bladder
    • adenomyosis, a condition in which tissue from the lining of the uterus grows in the muscles of the uterus
    • fibroids, growths on the outside, inside or walls of the uterus
    • cervical stenosis, narrowing of the opening to the uterus
    • pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection of the uterus and possibly other reproductive organs
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    Dysmenorrhea -- painful periods -- is caused by the monthly menstrual cycle. For the average woman, every 28 days, the lining of the uterus thickens in preparation for a fertilized egg to implant in the lining. If no egg is fertilized, the lining sheds, flowing out through the vagina during menstruation. The process of the uterus contracting to shed its lining causes primary dysmenorrhea. Levels of the hormone prostaglandin, which peak prior to menstruation, may also increase sensitivity to pain during menstruation. Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by an underlying gynecological condition, such as endometriosis or fibroids. This may cause pain before, during, and after menstruation.
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    Dysmenorrhea refers to intense pain and cramping during the menstrual cycle. Menstruation occurs when the uterus contracts to shed its lining. This contraction limits blood flow to the uterus, causing lower back and abdominal pain. Additional effects of this contraction include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and headache. If an underlying gynecological condition is causing dysmenorrhea, these conditions may also cause issues with fertility and pregnancy.

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    Primary dysmenorrhea is painful periods with no underlying gynecological cause. Primary dysmenorrhea is more likely to develop in younger women who have never delivered a baby and usually begins during adolescence. Heavy menstruation also increases your risk for dysmenorrhea; smoking and depression have also been linked to the condition. Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by an underlying gynecological condition. You are at greater risk for secondary dysmenorrhea if you are older, you have a family history of reproductive problems, a pelvic infection, or a sexually transmitted disease.
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    If you experience intense pain and cramping during menstruation, your doctor will want to know about your symptoms, your medical history, and possibly your family medical history. Your doctor may perform several diagnostic tests to determine if an underlying gynecological condition is responsible. These tests may include a pelvic exam, ultrasound, blood tests, and cultures. Imaging tests and scopes can also help a doctor find the cause of the pain. Gynecological conditions that cause secondary dysmenorrhea include endometriosis, fibroids, and ovarian cysts. If no underlying condition is found, your doctor may diagnose your painful menstruation as primary dysmenorrhea, meaning your pain is naturally occurring.
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    One out of two women who have their period suffer from dysmenorrhea. For most women, using over-the-counter menstrual pain relievers is effective treatment. Some pain during menstruation is normal, but you should contact your doctor if common pain management techniques prove ineffective after a few months and intense pain continues. You should talk to your doctor immediately if you have a fever or a change in vaginal discharge. If your symptoms arose after a new sexual partner, your pain may be due to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause infertility if not promptly treated.

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    Dysmenorrhea, intense pain and cramping caused by menstruation, occurs naturally in many women. Whether or not you can prevent it depends on the cause. Treatment for dysmenorrhea is designed to reduce pain and prevent future occurrences. For example, hormonal contraceptives can lighten menstruation and help prevent future pain. If dysmenorrhea is due to an underlying gynecological disorder such as fibroids or endometriosis, treatment of this disorder will prevent future occurrences.
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    Many women can manage symptoms and reduce pain on their own. Take anti-inflammatory medication at the onset of your menstrual cycle. Use a heating pad or soak in a hot bath to relieve cramps. Relaxation and stress reduction exercises, such as yoga and meditation, can help you cope with pain. Having an orgasm is recommended by some medical professionals as a means to relax the uterine muscles. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and rest are important for overall health and may also relieve your symptoms.
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    Dysmenorrhea refers to intense pain and cramping during menstruation, which usually begins in adolescence. If you are the parent or caregiver for a young woman with dysmenorrhea, help her manage her pain. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, a healthy diet and exercise, and relaxation exercises like yoga can reduce symptoms and help her cope with pain. If she is still experiencing these symptoms after a few months of managing her pain, make an appointment with a doctor. If you are caring for someone with secondary dysmenorrhea, she will need treatment to correct the underlying gynecological condition. Depending on the condition, you may need to help her as she recovers from surgery or undergoes hormone replacement therapy.

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    Curing dysmenorrhea, or intense pain and cramps during menstruation, is dependent on its underlying causes. Primary dysmenorrhea occurs naturally, and the best cure is treatment to learn how to manage pain. Pain management may include medication, heat therapy, and relaxation exercise. Another way to treat dysmenorrhea is to take hormonal contraception, which can lessen the intensity of the disorder. Secondary dysmenorrhea is due to an underlying cause, which must be treated to prevent future pain. For example, surgery to remove fibroids - noncancerous tumors - may cure dysmenorrhea if fibroids are the underlying cause.