Menstrual Cramps

An Unfortunate Side Affect

menstrual cramps gynecology top10mdMenstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) or period pains are painful sensations felt in your lower abdomen. They occur both before and during your period. The pain caused by cramps can be dull and annoying, but can sometimes be severe enough to cause extreme pain. The type of effects caused by menstrual cramps varies from woman to woman.

Symptoms of Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual cramps have a broad range of symptoms, all of which manifest in different women differently. You may experience very few or many of these symptoms during your menstrual cycle:

The two types of painful or difficult periods:

Who commonly gets menstrual cramps?

Half of all women experience menstrual cramps. About 15% of women describe their pain during menstrual cramps as severe. Data shows that women who don’t exercise experience more painful menstrual cramps. Certain psychological factors like emotional stress can increase your likelihood of having uncomfortable menstrual cramps.

Additional risk factors for cramps include:

Causes of Menstrual Cramps

If there is no sperm to fertilize your eggs during your menstrual period, your uterus contracts and expels its lining. This process is pushed along by your body’s release of hormone-like substances known as prostaglandins. These hormone substances are associated with pain and inflammation in higher levels. Uterine contractions cause the pain felt during menstrual cramps because the contractions prevent too much blood from flowing to your endometrium (the lining of your uterus).

Medical conditions that can cause menstrual cramps:

Diagnosing Menstrual Cramps

menstrual cramps gynecology top10mdUsually, you can identify menstrual cramps without the help of your physician. In cases of extreme pain or when you may have underlying conditions contributing to your pain, your doctor may order imaging of your abdominal area, uterus, cervix, vagina, and fallopian tubes. One or more of these tests may be administered:

The cause of menstrual cramps (menstruation) can’t be prevented, but if you take certain steps, you may be able to prevent the cramps themselves from happening.

Different measures can be taken to avoid cramps:

Over-the-counter medication is used to treat most cases of menstrual cramping. Birth control pills will help prevent ovulation and reduce the severity of your cramps.

Other known cures/treatments for menstrual cramps include:

If your menstrual cramps are due to an underlying medical condition like endometriosis or fibroids you may require surgery to resolve your issues and remove abnormal tissue.


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