Art By: Nikita Gautam
Pain and discomfort in the belly and pelvic areas during menstruation is referred as menstrual cramps. The medical term for menstrual cramp is dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea is of two types: Primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is common menstrual cramp in which pain is experienced just before and during menstruation, which usually lasts for one to three days. Primary dysmenorrhea is less painful as a woman ages and may stop totally after the woman has her first baby. In secondary dysmenorrhea, pain is experienced earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasts longer than common menstrual cramps. It is caused by the disorder in a woman’s reproductive system.
- Pain in abdomen, hips, lower back and even lower thighs.
- Sometimes loose stools and also vomiting.
- Dizziness, headache and nausea
Menstrual cramps are caused by contractions in the uterus (muscle). If the uterus contracts too strongly, it can press against nearby blood vessels, cutting off the supply of oxygen to the muscle tissue of the uterus. Pain results when part of a muscle briefly loses its supply of oxygen.
The other reasons are:
- Genetic periodic pain.
- Having an irregular period.
- Never having had a baby
- Heavy bleeding with periods
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Fibroids in the uterus (noncancerous tumors)
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Massaging the lower back and abdomen
- Taking a warm bath
- Regular physical exercise or yoga
- Eating light nutritious meals
- Using a hot water bag on pelvic area or back
- Raising legs or lying with knees bent
- Avoiding food, including salt, alcohol, caffeine and sugar to prevent bloating
- Drinking hot water.
Use of medicines:
Most of the girls use medicines like pain relievers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Sometimes, antidepressants are also used. But, overuse of these medicines may have side effects like drowsiness, blood disorder, decreased blood platelets, dry mouth, fast heartbeat, loss of appetite, redness of skin and many more.
In very rare cases, a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) is also as option if other treatments have not worked and pain is severe.
This article is an informative piece in which the information has been accumulated based on personal experience, reference to multiple web sites and conversation with Manila Vaidya Shrestha, MPH, Deakin University.