What Causes Menstrual Cramps?

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You feel that monthly cramps are a curse. And with good reason,the pain can be excruciating and ruin your quality of life. Most of you are suffering in silence unnecessarily and putting your health at risk at the same time. Today we're going to offer you some relief. With me is gynecologist, Dr.

Samantha Saife[sp?]. She's Director of reproductive surgery at the University of Pennsylvanian and she is a former mid-school classmate of mine.Ohh, yeah. She's devoted her career to women's health and she is here to help. So Dr. [xx] Samantha, welcome again to the show. Good to see you.

Talk to us about how serious these cramps are and why they'r bigger than just the pain they cause so many women. Well, I think a lot of women think they're supposed to have menstrual cramps, and they don't know that they suffering in silence. Menstrual cramps can really affect your quality of life and I think if women get in to see their doctor a lot sooner then we can really help reduce the intensity of the cramps and improve their quality of life.

Okay, so we're going to walk you through some of this, please[sp?] explain how you can manage them. So what's the most common cause of public cramps? Menstrual cramps. Menstrual cramps. Let me give you guys some insight. A new study revealed that chronic menstrual cramps can change the brain, think about that, change the brain by decreasing the area that processes pain and sensations.

This is the same effect as other chronic pains which we know can lead to anxiety, depression and insomnia. So when you, you know suffer with pain and we don't manage it effectively, you're changing the way your brain works. So what's your take on those findings? Well, I think I agree with that completely.

When women have terrible menstrual cramps, their quality of life is affected. They might not be able to go to a soccer game, they might not be able to go to a movie. And the anticipation every month of like, oh my God I'm going to have this horrible pain, you begin to get depressed and you begin to think, you know I can't live like this.

So we've got a little demonstration we thought up. This is what after four years of medical school, this is what it came to. Is this rope. This is what happens during a cramp. Alright, but this's actually really what happens in a cramp. Imagine this sphere here is the uterus, alright, and we've got this rope around there which is the body's chemicals.

So as your time of the month comes you begin to cramp down more, and more, and more, and more, it gets painful in there. It's like a vice grip squeezing that muscle and you can't do anything about it. It makes women very sensitive to pain, and this is important. It continues to make you more and more sensitive because once you feel pain, you will feel increased amounts of pain even from other problems that are unrelated to your uterus, your teeth will hurt more.

You'll have more aches and pains and you pull hairs out. I mean all kinds of crazy little things become more of an issue. So Samantha, come join me. We're going to talk a little bit about what's going on inside of the uterus. And so as I walk, everyone through why it's important for people to appreciate what's going on during menstruation.

Well, this is the uterus, and you can see that the pale pink outer portion is the muscle of the uterus, minutrium, that's what contracts with menstruation. The brighter pink is the endometrium, it's the lining of the uterus that sheds every month, and what happens is at the end of a normal menstrual cycle the lining starts to shed and then that muscle and the uterus produces a hormone, prostaglandin, which causes intense cramping and squeezing of that muscle which helps force the menstrual blood out, but also causes bad pain.