Is dysmenorrhea serious?

Dysmenorrhea refers to intense pain and cramping during menstruation. While dysmenorrhea can cause pain so intense that some women find it interrupts their plans, it usually is not a serious condition. Typically, a woman can treat dysmenorrhea on her own. In some cases, dysmenorrhea is caused by an underlying gynecological condition.

There are two types of dysmenorrhea:

  1. Primary dysmenorrhea is rarely a serious condition. One of the defining characteristics of primary dysmenorrhea is that it is not caused by an underlying condition that could result in a more serious issue. Rather, it is most commonly caused by higher than average amounts of prostaglandin in your body. Prostaglandins cause your uterus to cramp more frequently and may increase sensitivity to menstrual pain but do not cause serious harm to your body or cause infertility.

    Primary dysmenorrhea can affect your everyday life for certain parts of the month; however, treatment is often very effective in minimizing symptoms. Most women affected by primary dysmenorrhea find that the severity of their symptoms get better with age.

  2. Secondary dysmenorrhea can be a symptom of a serious condition. One of the defining characteristics of secondary dysmenorrhea is that it is caused by an underlying condition that could result in a more serious issue. If you experience a change in your menstrual cycle that includes pain and cramping it is best to see your doctor to rule out conditions that may be causing the pain. Underlying conditions that could be serious are endometriosis, sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic infections and uterine fibroids. Any of these conditions left untreated could cause serious health problems. If left untreated, pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to infertility.

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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.