Know the basics
What is dysmenorrhea?
Dysmenorrhea, also known as menstrual cramps, refers to cramping pains in the lower belly. Most of women have dysmenorrhea before and during their periods. The annoying pain can be discomfort and affect your daily activities.
How common is dysmenorrhea?
Dysmenorrhea commonly affects women during their menstrual periods. The older woman is, the less painful menstrual cramps she has. It might stop completely when once she has a baby. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of dysmenorrhea?
The common symptoms of dysmenorrhea are:
- Pain in the lower abdomen, sometimes intense pain;
- Feeling of pressure in the abdomen;
- Pain in the hips, lower back or inner thighs;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Loose stools;
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you are older than 25 and you are affected by severe dysmenorrhea every month or you notice any signs, symptoms listed above that are getting worse, please consult with your doctor. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes dysmenorrhea?
Dysmenorrhea is caused by the tightening of uterus muscle. When the muscle contracts are too strong, pain appears due to cutting off the supply of oxygen to the muscle tissue of uterus. Here are conditions that can cause menstrual cramp:
- Endometriosis: the tissues connecting your uterus becomes implanted outside the uterus, usually on your fallopian tubes, ovaries or pelvis.
- Uterine fibroids;
- Adenomyosis: the tissues connecting your uterus grow into the wall of the uterus, causing pain.
- Pelvic inflammation disease (PID): sexually transmitted bacteria can cause the infection on the reproductive organ of women.
- Cervical stenosis: if the opening of cervix is small that will affect the menstrual flow, cause pain and increase the pressure in the uterus.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for dysmenorrhea?
There are many risk factors for dysmenorrhea, such as:
- You are under the age of 30.
- Your puberty started from the age of 11 or younger.
- You have heavy or abnormal bleeding during periods.
- You have never given birth.
- You have family medical history.
- You are smoking.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is dysmenorrhea diagnosed?
Your doctor may ask you questions about your medical history and conduct a pelvic exam to detect any irregularity in the reproductive organs and infections.
If your menstrual cramps are caused by an underlying reason, your doctor may recommend these following tests:
- Ultrasound uses sound waves to check your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
- CT (computerized tomography) scan or MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) scan to have more details in your organs, bones and tissues to diagnose the causes.
- Laparoscopy: this test will help to find some underlying reasons causing your pain.
How is dysmenorrhea treated?
- Medications: you may be required some pain relievers before your period and keep using them for one to two days until the symptoms are gone.
- Hormonal birth control: hormone may be delivered in several ways such as oral pills, injection, skin patch, an implant under skin or a ring inserted into your vagina, or an intrauterine device (IUD) for preventing ovulation and decreasing the menstrual cramps
- Surgery: if your dysmenorrhea is caused by another health condition, your doctor may recommend a surgery to help solve this problem.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage dysmenorrhea?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with dysmenorrhea:
- Physical activities are proven that can help to ease the menstrual cramps pain.
- Try a hot bath or use a heating pad applied on the site of your pain to ease the menstrual cramps.
- Provide yourself with essential supplements such as vitamin E, omega3, vitamin B1, B6.
- Have positive lifestyle changes by avoiding tobacco and alcohol.
- Keep yourself being relaxed and avoid getting stressed.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Menstrual cramps. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menstrual-cramps/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20025447. Accessed July 21, 2016.
Menstrual cramps (Dysmenorrhea). http://www.webmd.com/women/menstrual-cramps?page=3. Accessed July 21, 2016.
Painful menstrual period. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003150.htm?session=qDLjRwjjhHoPu8KqBJKmQwGGNX. Accessed July 21, 2016.