Menstrual Cramps (Painful Periods): Causes and Treatment

Menstrual Cramps

Last updated on July 28th, 2018 at 05:22 am

Menstrual cramps is common among women and is also called dysmenorrhea, painful periods or period cramps. Menstrual cramps is common in women of child bearing age.

What is menstrual cramps?

This is pain in the abdomen during menstruation that requires treatment and is enough to disrupt your daily activities. About 10 percent of women with menstrual cramps may require hospital admissions. There is no known cause of cramps in women. However, it is believed that painful periods improves after delivery. Older women may experience period cramps but this is less severe. It is believed that painful Periods reduces with increasing age.


How do period cramps pain feel like?

Every woman experience period cramps during her reproductive years. Period cramps usually starts few hours to menstruation. It may also last about 48 hours after onset of menstruation. The pain starts and stops abruptly. It is very severe, sharp and intermittent. However, menstrual cramp medicine can help prevent this pain in women.


What causes menstrual cramps in young women?

Women between 15 and 25 years do experience painful periods which may require treatment. The cause of pain is due to high prostagladins level. This will cause increased contraction of the uterus. This hyper stimulation of the uterus will cause severe pain.

However, there are other factors that seem to cause painful periods in young women. Psychologic and emotional factors play a role.

Therefore,If you experience severe pain during your menstruation, then its important to see your doctor.


What causes menstrual cramps in older women?

It is uncommon for older women to experience severe pain during menstruation. However, some women above 30 years may experience severe pain during menses. It occurs 4 days prior to onset of menstruation and resolves by the 5th day of bleeding. Causes of menstrual cramps or painful periods in women above 30 years include:

  • Endometriosis. This is the commonest cause of painful menses in women above 30 years. It is the presence of uterine tissues outside the uterus.
  • Adenomyosis. This is the presence of endometrial tissue within the uterine wall or muscle. It is common in women that had cesarean section or evacuation of pregnancy.
  • Uterine fibroid. These are abnormal growth that occurs in women. They are usually painless. However, they can cause pain in some women during menses.
  • Infection. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can cause severe lower abdomen pain during menstruation. Your doctor will ask for other symptoms of PID. Pain while urinating, fever, and abnormal vaginal discharge are common with infection.
  • Intrauterine contraceptive devices used for birth control
  • Cervical stenosis. This is narrowing of the cervix. It is usually due to trauma to the cervix or cone biopsy.


If painful periods persist, when should i see a doctor?

Women after menache experience some pain during menstruation. However, this will not affect their normal activities. If your pain is severe and affecting your daily activity then you should see your doctor. If you also experience heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) with painful menses. You should see your doctor too.

Mild to moderate period cramps are treated with menstrual cramp home remedies. Very severe pain may require hospital admissions.


What are the symptoms of Menstrual cramps?

  • Vomiting
  • Lower abdomen pain
  • Feeling faint
  • Lower back pain
  • Constipation
  • Headache


How is menstrual cramp diagnosed?

Most women with painful periods will likely not have any pelvic problem. However, your doctor will require some test.

  • High vaginal swab. This is important in women with infection. Most common infection that can cause painful periods are chlamydia and gonorrhea.
  • Pelvic ultrasound. Endometriosis and adenomyosis can be diagnosed with this scan.
  • Laparoscopy
  • Hysterectomy
  • MRI


What is the treatment of painful periods in women?

Most women with severe lower abdominal pain will require treatment. Treatment options are medical and surgical.

Medical menstrual cramps treatment

This involves use of drugs that inhibit prostagladins. These drugs include

  • Aspirin, Naproxen, Ibuprofen. These drugs will reduce the production of prostagladins. Women with mild to moderate pain will feel better after taking these medications.
  • Mefenamic acid. This drug provides relief in 85 percent of women.
  • Oral contraceptive. This medications act by suppressing ovulation. It is administered for about 6 month to 1 year. Most women will feel better after cessation of treatment.
  • Codeine
  • Buscopan

Surgical menstrual cramps treatment

Medical treatment may not provide relief for all women. Surgery will depend on if a cause is identified.

surgical options include

What other menstrual cramps remedies can help?

There is evidence that life style changes can help painful periods in women. This include

  • Exercise
  • Low fat diet
  • Vegetarian diet
  • Exposure to heat

Now its your turn: Do you experience severe cramps during menstruation? Share your experiences. Let us know how you relieve your pain too. Also share my post on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you.

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