Menstrual Cramps (dysmenorrhea) are throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen. Many women experience it just before and during their menstrual periods.
For some women, the discomfort is merely annoying. For others, it can be severe enough to interfere with everyday activities for a few days.
Symptoms of Menstrual cramps includes
(I) Throbbing or cramping pain in your lower abdomen that may be intense
(II) Dull, constant ache
(III) Pain that radiates to your lower back and thighs
Some women also experience:
During your menstrual period, your uterus contracts to help expel its lining. Hormone-like substances (prostaglandins) involved in pain and inflammation trigger the uterine muscle contractions.
Menstrual cramps may also be caused by
Endometriosis. In this painful condition, the tissue that lines your uterus becomes implanted outside your uterus, most commonly on your fallopian tubes, ovaries or the tissue lining your pelvis.
Uterine fibroids. These noncancerous growths in the wall of the uterus may be the cause of pain.
Adenomyosis. In this condition, the tissue that lines your uterus begins to grow into the muscular walls of the uterus.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. This infection of the female reproductive organs is usually caused by sexually transmitted bacteria.
Cervical stenosis. In some women, the opening of the cervix may be so small that it impedes menstrual flow, causing a painful increase of pressure within the uterus.
You may be at greater risk of Menstrual cramps if:
(I) You're younger than age 30
(II) You started puberty early, at age 11 or younger
(III) You have heavy bleeding during periods (Menorrhagia)
(IV) You have irregular menstrual bleeding (metrorrhagia)
(V) You've never given birth
(VI) You have a family history of dysmenorrhea
(VII) You're a smoker
Menstrual cramps don't cause any other medical complications, but they can interfere with school, work and social activities.
Certain conditions associated with Menstrual cramps may have complications, though. For example, Endometriosis can cause fertility problems. Pelvic inflammatory disease can scar your fallopian tubes, increasing the risk of a fertilized egg implanting outside of your uterus (Ectopic pregnancy).
TREATMENTS AND DRUGS
Menstrual cramps are treatable. Recommended drugs such as
Pain relievers. Your doctor may suggest taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, at regular doses starting the day before you expect your period to begin. Prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as mefenamic acid, also are available. If you can't take NSAIDs, acetaminophen may lessen your pain.
Hormonal birth control. Oral birth control pills contain hormones that prevent ovulation and reduce the severity of Menstrual cramps. These hormones can also be delivered in several other forms an injection, a patch you wear on your skin, an implant placed under the skin of your arm, a flexible ring that you insert into your vagina, or an intrauterine device (IUD).
Surgery. If your Menstrual cramps are caused by an underlying disorder, such as Endometriosis or fibroids, surgery to correct the problem may help reduce your symptoms. Surgical removal of the uterus also may be an option if you're not planning to have children.
LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES
Things you may want to try at home includes
Exercise. Studies have found that physical activity may ease the pain of Menstrual cramps.
Heat. Soaking in a hot bath or using a heating pad, hot water bottle or heat patch on your lower abdomen may ease Menstrual cramps. Applying heat may be just as effective as over-the-counter pain medication for relieving Menstrual cramps.
Dietary supplements. A number of studies have indicated that vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-1 (thiamine), vitamin B-6 and magnesium supplements may effectively reduce Menstrual cramps.
Avoiding alcohol and tobacco. These substances can make Menstrual cramps worse.
Reducing stress. Psychological stress may increase your risk of Menstrual cramps and their severity.
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