Having menstrual cramps is one of the most common annoying part of your period. These cramps can strike before or during your period.
Prevalence rates are as high as 90 percent. Initial presentation of primary dysmenorrhea typically occurs in adolescence.
It is a common cause of absenteeism and reduced quality of life in women. The problem is often underdiagnosed and undertreated.
Symptoms of Dysmenorrhea
Chances are, you know all too well how it feels. You may have:
- Aching pain in your belly (sometimes severe)
- Feeling of pressure in your belly
Pain in hips, lower back, and inner thighs
When cramps are severe, symptoms may include:
- Upset stomach, sometimes with vomiting
- Loose stools
Types of Dysmenorrhea
- Period pain from your first period or shortly after, and without a known cause, is known as primary dysmenorrhea.
- Period pain caused by certain reproductive disorders, such as adenomyosis, endometriosis or fibroids, is known as secondary dysmenorrhea.
What Causes PRIMARY dysmenorrhea
Menstrual cramps happen because of contractions in the uterus, or womb, which is a muscle.
The uterine lining produces these hormone-like substances called prostaglandins at the time of shedding, that cause the muscles of uterus to contract. If it contracts too strongly during your menstrual cycle, it can press against nearby blood vessels. This briefly cuts off the supply of oxygen to the uterus. It’s this lack of oxygen causes your pain and cramping.
What Causes SECONDARY dysmenorrhea
Secondary dysmenorrhea can be caused by several different conditions. These include.
- Endometriosis. This is when cells that normally line your uterus grow outside it in other parts of your body but go through the same monthly changes.
- Fibroids (non-cancerous growths of your womb).
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (an infection in your uterus and fallopian tubes, and sometimes your ovaries).
- Adenomyosis. This is when the glands that are usually in the lining of your uterus grow inside the walls of the uterus as well. Your uterus grows much larger than it should do. This can cause heavy periods with cramps. If you are not trying to get pregnant, using a contraceptive intrauterine system (IUS) may help reduce the pain and bleeding caused by adenomyosis.
The treatment you need will depend on what’s causing your painful periods and how severe the pain and symptoms are. Many women never see their doctor about painful periods and manage the symptoms themselves at home.
SELF HELP METHODS
These well-known methods you can try at home to soothe the cramps:
1.Heat therapy -Hot compresses through hot water bottles and warm baths are a tried and tested method for pain relief. Some studies have shown to be as effective as NSAIDS and aspirin for menstrual cramp pain.
2.Ginger -It seems ginger may also be a effective as common painkillers, as some clinical trials suggest.
3.-Certain low stress workouts have been found to ease bloating, back and leg pain caused by menstruation, increasing blood circulation in the affected area while also strengthening it contributes greatly to pain relief.
4-life style changes -as to refrain from the use of drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. All these are known to increase inflammation and worsening of pain.
WHEN TO SEEK HELP
If you have primary dysmenorrhea, you may also be able to ease your symptoms with over-the-counter painkillers.
There are also treatments that your doctor can prescribe for you such as acupressure and TENS.
If you have secondary dysmenorrhea, your doctor will try and find out what condition is causing your symptoms and will discuss your treatment options with you. This might need certain investigations like USG to reach the diagnosis.
Menstrual cramps, whatever the cause, can be treated well so it’s important that you seek out treatment from an expert obstetrician or gynaecologist.