Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for painful menstruation. Dysmenorrhea is the most commonly reported menstrual disorder. More than one half of women who menstruate have pain for 1-2 days every month. There are two types of dysmenorrhea; primary and secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is pain that comes from having a menstrual period (menstrual cramps). It is usually caused by chemicals naturally found in the body called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are made in the lining of the uterus (womb). Pain usually occurs right before menstruation starts, as the high level of prostaglandins increases in the lining of the uterus. Most times, diarrhea occurs alongside with dysmenorrhea. This is because of the contraction exerted in the walls of the uterus by prostaglandins. The levels of these chemicals are usually high the first day of menstrual period. As menstruation continues and the lining of the uterus is shed, the level of prostaglandins decreases. Pain usually decreases as the levels of prostaglandins decreases. Most times, primary dysmenorrhea begins soon after a girl starts having menstrual periods. In many women with primary dysmenorrhea, menstruation becomes less painful as they get older. This kind of dysmenorrhea also may improve after giving birth. Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by a disorder of the reproductive system. It may begin later in life than primary dysmenorrhea. The pain tends to get worse instead of getting better.
Prevention of Dysmenorrhea
Certain pain relievers are used. Especially the nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They reduce the amount of prostaglandins made by the body and lessen their effects. These reductions in prostaglandin levels make menstrual cramp less severe. It works best if taken 3 days before the menses starts. It might as well be taken at the first sign of your menstrual period. Usually two doses calm the pain. These NSAIDs are contraindicated in some people, e.g.; women with bleeding disorders, peptic ulcer disease, asthma, aspirin allergy, liver damage and other stomach disorders.
There are lots of alternative treatments used in treating dysmenorrhea, they include; consumption of ginger, exercise, rest, vitamin B1 or magnesium sulphate supplements, use of hot water bottle and acupuncture. If you suspect that yours is secondary dysmenorrhea, you should consult your physician who will give you some treatment option.