What is primary dysmenorrhea?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Primary dysmenorrhea is the technical phrase for the cramping pain that accompanies your menstrual period. Primary dysmenorrhea occurs around the same time as your first menstruation and will usually get better as you age. The pain often affects your lower abdominal area and back. It can begin a couple days before your period and continue during your period.

While primary dysmenorrhea occurs in approximately half of all women who menstruate, typically it is only severe enough to interfere with daily life in about 10 percent of those affected. Primary dysmenorrhea is rarely an indicator of an underlying problem. It is most commonly caused by overproduction of a chemical called prostaglandin.

The rate of incidence for primary dysmenorrhea is approximately half of all women who have a menstrual cycle. Somewhere between 5 and 15 percent of the women who have primary dysmenorrhea experience symptoms so severe that they cannot go about their daily life. Primary dysmenorrhea is most apparent in women under age 20 and tends to be less prevalent as women age.

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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.