What causes menstrual pain?
Also called dysmenorrhea, menstrual pain can be divided into two “types”: primary menstrual pain which occurs as a result of the contractions of the uterus as it sheds the uterine lining each month, and secondary dysmenorrhea which is caused by an underlying medical condition. In secondary dysmenorrhea, the pain usually occurs earlier and lasts longer than “normal” menstrual cramps.
How can I relieve pain from primary dysmenorrhea?
Mild menstrual cramps may be treated with an over-the-counter pain reliever as soon as your period begins. Placing a heating pad on your belly or lower back can also help. During your period, it’s best to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. Birth control pills and prescription pain relievers may be used for more severe pain when needed. Some studies have indicated women who exercise regularly have less cramping during their periods, and often, the pain diminishes considerably after a woman has been pregnant.
What causes secondary dysmenorrhea?
Secondary dysmenorrhea is related to an underlying condition or disease that affects the reproductive system and causes abnormal or excessive pain. Some of the more common causes include:
Secondary dysmenorrhea may be caused by infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a bacterial infection that starts in the uterus and spread throughout the reproductive organs
Fibroids are noncancerous growths that form in the inner wall of the uterus
Endometriosis is a condition in which the uterine lining (the endometrium) begins growing outside the uterus, sometimes along the outside of the uterus or on the bowel
Other causes include a narrowing (stenosis) of the cervix, and adenomyosis, a condition in which the uterine lining grows into the muscle tissues of the uterus. Some of these issues may also be associated with abnormal bleeding such as very heavy or unusually long periods or spotting between periods.
What should I do if I have severe menstrual pain?
If you have severe pelvic or lower belly cramping or pain during or around your period or at any other time during your cycle, it’s very important to schedule an office visit so you can be evaluated to determine the cause. Sometimes, pain can be caused by infections or other serious underlying causes that can become much worse if not promptly treated.
If you’re experiencing menstrual pain and aren’t sure of the cause, you can find effective treatment and management from Regina Hill, MD. Call the office today.