What is dysmenorrhea? Also known as intense menstrual cramps, it tends to appear before and during menstruation. Find out everything you need to know.
All women experience cramping and pain during menstruation. And not only during menstruation, but also a little before it appears. Although it is commonly known as menstrual colic, did you know that it actually has a medical name?
From a specialized point of view, the most appropriate term is dysmenorrhea. In other words, as we will see below, it basically consists of intense pain felt in the pelvis and abdomen, and which tends to appear both before and during menstruation.
What is dysmenorrhea?
Dysmenorrhea is considered one of the symptoms of menstruation, a moment in which the detachment of the innermost layer of the uterus occurs, which involves the rupture of tissues and some small arteries that, finally, facilitate bleeding. It is characterized by being, in fact, one of the most common symptoms of the period.
In other words, we are actually faced with pain generally associated with menstruation during the ovulatory cycles themselves, but which does not cause injuries that affect the correct reproductive cycle of women.
There are several types of dysmenorrhea depending on its main cause:
- Primary dysmenorrhea: If no cause can be found for the pain.
- Secondary dysmenorrhea: If there is a known cause.
Among the different causes of secondary dysmenorrhea, and therefore, there are some known causes, we find thyroid problems, stress, infections, miscarriages or misplaced intrauterine devices.
In other words, dysmenorrhea or “painful menstruation” is the pains that women experience before the arrival of menstruation or during it. Most of the time, these menstrual cramps usually manifest just before the menstrual period and up to 48 hours later.
These pains that affect women usually occur because hormones called prostaglandins spread throughout the uterus or womb of the woman contracting, which leads to such sharp pains in the lower abdomen.
It should be mentioned that not all women can manifest this type of pain with the same intensity; some will have those stronger pains while others will not even suffer from it.
Symptoms of dysmenorrhea or menstrual cramps
However, there is a very common symptom that is directly and usually associated with dysmenorrhea and it is the appearance of colic-like pain similar to an intense cramp, which may be accompanied by some of the following symptoms:
- Waist and back pain
In fact, sometimes the pain tends to be so intense that it is usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting. These symptoms tend to last around 24 hours, although it is obvious that the discomfort lasts throughout the menstrual period.
What are your causes? What makes a woman suffer from it?
Not all women suffer from dysmenorrhea, understood as the appearance of intense menstrual cramps. In fact, it is estimated that it affects around a third of women, being more common in those women whose menstruation appeared before the age of 11, who are overweight or who maintain unhealthy habits, such as smoking or drinking alcohol.
Although the exact cause is not known, some scientific studies suggest that the “fault” is found in the excess production of prostaglandin hormones,which tend to accentuate the different contractions that occur in the muscles of the uterus, causing intense pain.
However, we must differentiate between the two types of dysmenorrhea that exist:
- Primary dysmenorrhea: it appears as a consequence of a hormonal imbalance, the main cause being abnormal uterine contractions, in the absence of a pathology or gynecological condition.
- Secondary dysmenorrhea: it is related to some type of gynecological pathology, such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, infections or uterine fibroids.
How to relieve the pain associated with dysmenorrhea?
Like all diseases, you can combat your menstrual cramps with medications or home or natural remedies that will help reduce the intensity of the pain you may suffer.
You can take Ibuprofen or Naproxen to calm intense cramps; apply a hot water compress to your abdomen.
Daily exercise such as walking or pelvic exercises is highly recommended.
Contraceptives can also solve this type of colic as they inhibit the production of hormones that will help reduce premenstrual symptoms.
Eat healthy, lots of complex carbohydrates, no alcohol, and no caffeine and less tobacco consumption,
You can make an infusion of celery, onion and rue 3 times a day.
- Daughters of women with menstrual cramps are more likely to also report this type of problem.
- Between 30 and 60% of women suffer from dysmenorrhea.
- In women who smoke and consume alcohol, these symptoms will be more likely to appear.
- Your psychological state, if you are sad, depressed or more likely to have low spirits will also have a direct influence.