Painful Menstruation

Approximately 50% of women experience pain and discomfort during their menstrual periods. Sometimes, the pain they experience is not so severe and does not require special attention. But for some women, their monthly periods become problematic and cause inconvenience in their daily lives.

Painful menstruation is one of the leading causes of absenteeism among women of childbearing age, or those in their teens and twenties. It affects 10% of high school girls and causes a great loss of work hours in a year. Some women have to stay at home for one or two days just to ease off the pain.

Menstrual pains are natural pains resulting from the contractions in the musculature of the uterus. These contractions are caused by the release of body prostaglandins or the hormones that produce the lining of the womb.

What are menstrual pains?

Menstrual pains are often characterized by sharp, irregular cramps in the lower abdomen. This pain is sometimes compared to labor pains as it also radiates through other parts of the body, namely the back, thigh, groins and vulva. Pains start to act with the menstrual flow or just before the start of the period, attacking a woman’s body within 24 hours.

Painful menstruation also occur alongside other signs of premenstrual syndrome or PMS. These include frequent urination, diarrhea, headache, nausea, vomiting, aching breasts, abdominal bloating, irritability, etc.

Generally, pain subsides as menstrual bleeding tapers off. For those having excessive pain during their menstrual cycles, they may be experiencing a medical condition known as dysmenorrhoea. This kind of menstrual pain may require medication and may coexist with menorrhagia or heavy blood loss.

The two general types of dysmenorrhoea are primary and secondary. The first one pertains to menstrual pain experienced by otherwise healthy women. It is not related with any other problems, may it be with the uterus or other pelvic organs. On the other hand, the second type involves menstrual pain that may relate to an underlying disease process or structural abnormality within or outside the uterus.

How you can avoid the pains?

Painful menstruation can be relieved by taking in simple painkillers within 24 to 48 hours before the onset of the menstrual cycle. Aspirin is proven effective because it inhibits prostaglandin synthesis. Hot compress may also be applied to the lower abdomen to relieve discomfort. There are also exercises that one can learn to help minimize menstrual cramps.

What can the doctor do?

Keeping a detailed record of menstrual symptoms can also help in dealing with painful menstrual. If pain still persists, then one can consult these symptoms with a medical doctor. A pelvic examination may be performed to rule out any inherent conditions that may cause dysmenorrhoea. Other medical treatment include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS and contraceptive pills.