Menstrual cramps (Dysmenorrhoea): causes and symptoms
Every women during their menstrual cycle experience some kind of abdominal pain which is mild pain for some and very extreme and severe for others. What is this pain? And whatleads to this irritating pain in women? Before finding answers for this, let’s gather some information about menstruation and its symptoms.
Menstruation is a monthly occurrence for women in which the body shed the lining of uterus (womb), which is then passed through small opening in the cervix and out through vaginal canal leading to bleeding.
During this process, the uterus grows a new lining (endometrium) to get ready for fertilized egg. When there is no fertilized egg to start with pregnancy, the uterus sheds its lining. This leads to menstrual bleeding (also called as menstrual period) that every women experience from their teenage tomenopause. This menstrual bleeding is always accompanied by menstrual cramps.
Menstrual cramps also known as dysmenorrhoea or period pains are painful sensation felt in lower abdomen that can occur before or during women menstrual period. The pain ranges from dull and annoying to severe and extreme that interferes with normal activities.
There are two types of dysmenorrhoea
Primary dysmenorrhoea is the common type and characterized by pain in the lower abdomen and lower back pain. It begins 1-2 days before the period and last from 2-4 day. This pain is not related to specific problem with the uterus or the other pelvic organs. Increase activity of hormone prostaglandin which is produced in the uterus, is thought to play a role in this condition.
Secondary dysmenorrhoea is characterized by cramping pains that are due to medical problem such as endometriosis (disorder in which the endometrium grows outside the uterine cavity), uterine fibroids (abnormal growth in uterus) or pelvic inflammatory disease (infection of reproductive organ caused by bacteria).
Symptoms of menstrual pain
In addition with menstrual cramps in the lower abdomen,woman may experience some of the following symptoms also
Lower back pain and Leg pain
Headache and irritation
Nausea and dizziness
What causes menstrual pain?
During menstrual period, uterus contracts to expel its lining. Hormones like substances (prostaglandins) are involved in pain and triggers the uterine contractions. These uterine contractions cause most of the pain felt during menstrual cramps as these contractions inhibit the blood flow to the lining of uterus. In addition substances like leukotriene level are also elevated that may be also the cause of menstrual pain.
When to seek medical help
Most women get relief from menstrual cramps by home remedies such as application of heating pad to lower abdominal area, drinking warm water,by doing some light circular massage with fingertips on your lower belly area or just by sleeping. Some prefers to take anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen to get relief from pain. However in following situation such as if menstrual cramps continue to be painful longer than usual, if pain get suddenly worse or different from what experienced before, if bleeding becomes excessive and painful with signs of infection, fever, chills and body ache or if signs of pregnancy are observed she should immediately seek medical help.