Menstrual pain is discomfort before or during menstruation, which may lead to disruption of daily activities. Its scientific name is dysmenorrhea. The pain usually disappears are menstruation subsides, which can range from mild to severe. They affect approximately half of all women. In contrast, it is different from menstrual cramps. It is characterized by a longer and more intense pain due to the contraction of the uterus, a muscle, where the baby grows inside the womb.
Causes of Menstrual Pain
There are two main causes for menstrual pain, which differ based on their cause, namely primary and secondary dysmenorrhea. Premenstrual syndrome is differentiated from dysmenorrhea, which is primarily due change of hormone levels in the body leading mood swings, breast tenderness, among others, but of no identified cause.
- Primary dysmenorrhea
- Menstrual pain that arises before menarche (onset of menstruation)
- Menstrual pain associated with women that have normal periods
- No serious underlying cause or disease in the uterus or other pelvic organs
- Secondary dysmenorrhea
- Endometriosis: growth of endometrial cells outside the uterus
- Uterine fibroids: development of tumors in the uterus
- Pelvic inflammatory disease: infection of the uterine lining, fallopian tubes or ovaries
- Sexually transmitted infections brought about by sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, etc.
- Stress and anxiety
Symptoms of Menstrual Pain
Usually, the most common symptom of menstrual pain is pain in the lower abdomen, which can be either dull, sharp, throbbing burning or shooting. However menstrual pain may also have other symptoms which include the following:
- Pain in the lower back or hips
- Radiating pain to the lower thigh
- Hypersensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell
- Nausea and vomiting
- In extreme cases, fainting and loose stools, sometimes with vomiting
Home Remedies for Menstrual Pain
Typically, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective in giving comfort to the pained woman. However, they may have side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, etc. Birth control pills or hormonal contraceptives are also prescribed to alleviate pain. It is best to take these medications before the onset of menstruation. Other tips include:
- Heating pads or hot water bottles may be applied to the lower abdomen, just a few inches below the navel. Make sure that one does not fall asleep with the heating pad left on the abdomen.
- Take a warm shower, if possible.
- Engage in stress reduction activities. Gently perform circular massages using the fingertips on the lower abdomen. Yoga and meditation are also said to help reduce pain.
- Drink warm beverages. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Other recommendations include acquiring enough rest and sleep and regular exercise.
Though it often does not pose any serious threat, menstrual pain should be treated as they give great discomfort to women. Menstrual and different kinds of discomfort felt by the body can be treated especially when there is knowledge on first aid taught by first aid classes.