Menstrual pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, is abdominal pain that occurs during the menstrual cycle. It typically occurs a few days before and during the first few days of the period. Symptoms can range from mild cramping to severe pain, accompanied by symptoms such as lower back pain, nausea, sweating, diarrhea or constipation, bloating, dizziness, and headache.

Causes of Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual cramps are caused by a hormone-like substance called prostaglandin, which is produced in the uterine lining. Prostaglandin stimulates uterine contractions, leading to pain. The severity of symptoms depends on the amount of prostaglandin produced.

Types of Dysmenorrhea:

  1. Primary Dysmenorrhea: This is the most common type of menstrual cramps and is caused by excessive prostaglandin production in the uterine lining.
  2. Secondary Dysmenorrhea: This type occurs due to underlying issues with the uterus or reproductive organs, such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical stenosis, scarring from previous abdominal surgery, or conditions associated with the intestines.

Symptoms of Menstrual Cramps

  • Lower abdominal pain and pressure
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Back pain

Testing and Diagnosis

Diagnosis of dysmenorrhea may involve a medical history review, physical examination, internal (vaginal) examination, ultrasound, and laparoscopy to inspect the pelvic organs.

Treatment: The treatment of menstrual cramps depends on the severity and cause of the pain. Pain medication and birth control pills may be recommended to manage pain and reduce bleeding.

Prevention and Alleviating Symptoms: To alleviate menstrual cramps, you can try the following home treatments:

  • Apply a hot water bottle or electric heating pad to the abdomen and back.
  • Take a warm bath.
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation.
  • Take NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) before or as symptoms begin.
  • Get enough rest.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, limiting fat, salt, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and sweets.