Menstrual Cramps


What is menstrual cramps?

Menstrual cramps also known as dysmenorrhea which is painful cramps that occurs before and during the menstrual time. The pain is felt in lower abdominal region and/or in back. Pain may be sharp that goes and come or aching in nature. Some people don’t experience the pain what so ever.  Sometimes menstrual cramps are such that it is difficult to do routine works such as household activities, running, jogging, school related activities, etc.

What are the types of Dysmenorrhea?

There are mainly two types: Primary dysmenorrhea and Secondary dysmenorrhea.

What is Primary dysmenorrhea?

Primary dysmenorrhea is alternative word to the normal menstrual cramps. Pain in this type can be mild to severe and it is felt in lower abdominal region and/or in back. This type of pain is generally related to the higher production of prostaglandin (one type of hormone related to female reproductive system). This type of cramps usually starts nearly before or just at the time of periods. This pain typically last for three days. This is a physiologic pain and become less painful as age advances and may stop completely after the birth of first baby.

What is Secondary dysmenorrhea?

Secondary dysmenorrhea is a pathological pain caused due to presence of any pathology in the woman’s reproductive organs. This type of pain last longer compared to primary dysmenorrhea or normal menstrual cramps. Some pathologies include non-cancerous growth in female reproductive organs, fibroids, endometriosis, infection from birth controlling devices (generally made from copper), etc.

Why menstrual cramps occur?

Menstrual cramps are related to the muscle movements. To remove unfertilized egg outside the body this muscle movement is necessary. These movements include contraction and relaxation of the muscle ultimately leads to movement of the egg. Sometimes these movements are unnoticeable and may cause mild discomfort but in most cases it is felt painful as the muscle movements cause pressure over the blood vessels, commonly known as menstrual cramps.

Menstrual cramps in children

In teens, though cramps are severe, it cannot be a severe disease. Only women are associated some diseases where we can correlate menstrual cramps with some pathological diseases. Menstrual cramps in teen caused by excessive production of hormone – Prostaglandin.

What are the symptoms of Menstrual cramps?

Symptoms of Menstrual cramps are as follow:

  • Pain in lower abdomen and/or in back
  • It may cause Pain may feel in hip region including thighs.
  • It may have associated with loose motion, nausea and headache and vomiting in case of severe menstrual cramps.

How to get relief from menstrual cramps?

Many ways you can relieve the pain and options include from medicine to eating right to homemade remedies.

  • Take pain killers mainly NASIDs – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs reduce the amount of Prostaglandin helps in relieving menstrual cramps.
  • Apply heat to lower abdomen, back and/or area of pain by means of placing heating pad or hot bag.
  • Make habit of having shower with warm water.
  • Take rest and massage over the back. You can also do massage over belly button in circular motion.
  • Add exercises to your daily routine. Mainly exercises related to hips, back and lower abdomen.
  • Drink green tea.
  • Do meditation and yoga.

Some primary medicines are: Ibuprofen, Ketoprofen, Naproxen, etc. if these medications fail then immediately consult your doctor. We recommend you to consult Gynecologist.

When to call doctor?

  • If you find foul smelling from your vaginal discharge.
  • Pain last for more than one week.
  • If primary medications fail to relive pain in three months.
  • When pain occurs other than your periods (generally five days before your period date or if pain continue even after completion of your periods).
  • Be aware of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome): During your periods, if you find menstrual cramps along with high fever, vomiting, loose motion, rashes, fainting, etc. then you must contact your doctors as these conditions can be life-threatening.

Be ready with some questions your doctor may ask!

  • Anything that aggravating the pain?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • Are you sexually active?
  • Are you using birth control pills?
  • At what age your first periods start?
  • Had you felt pain before during your Menstrual cycle?
  • Had you felt pain before other than your Menstrual cycle?
  • Is it always painful during periods?
  • What is the nature of pain?
  • What is your date of Menstrual Cycle?
  • What symptoms you are facing?
  • What were your last date of Menstrual cycle?
  • When the first pain starts?

About the author

Dr Lifesaving
By Dr Lifesaving