Dysmenorrhea is painful menstruation. It may include pain in the abdomen, back and legs, abdominal cramps, headache, and fatigue. Most women have painful periods at some time in their life. In some women, the pain is severe enough to interfere with normal activities.
There are two types of dysmenorrhea:
Primary dysmenorrhea—painful regular (ovulatory) menstrual cycles; the pain is caused by utrine muscle contractions caused by high levels of prostaglandins produced in the lining and body of the uterus after ovulation.
Secondary dysmenorrhea—painful periods due to an underlying condition, such as
(a condition involving the lining of the uterus or womb) or infection, that can begin at any age
The presence of a known cause of secondary dysmenorrhea (see “Causes”) is a risk factor for developing the condition.
The pain associated with either primary or secondary dysmenorrhea may be sharp and throbbing or dull and aching, depending on the individual. It is most typically located in the lower abdomen and may radiate to the low back or thighs. Other symptoms may include:
Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility.
6th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 1999.
*¹9/30/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
: Witt CM, Reinhold T, Brinkhaus B, et al. Acupuncture in patients with dysmenorrhea: a randomized study on clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness in usual care.
Am J Obstet Gynecol.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a