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Dysmenorrhea – What Can be Done About Menstrual Cramps?

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When it’s that time of the month, many of us know that menstrual cramps will come too. The scientific name is dysmenorrhea. Wow, what a long word, huh? When I used to have cramps, pain would start in my lower abdomen and radiate from there. In the first several years of having a cycle, the pain would be so bad that I would vomit. The only good thing about cramps was a day off from school!

But hey, it happens, right? So, now we just have to make sure that our cramps are just cramps only – not any underlying problem. Mayo Clinic states that normal symptoms of cramps include dull, throbbing or cramping pain in the lower abdomen, pain traveling to the lower back and thighs, nausea, vomiting, loose stools, sweating and even dizziness. And it further states that if you are younger than 20, experiencing early onset of puberty (think 11 or younger), have heavy menstrual bleeding and have never had a baby, chances are that you will experience mild or intense menstrual cramps. Hmm…that explains my situation; I got my visitor at age 11!

What exactly is happening to the body when we cramp? The Mayo Clinic explains that to expel the blood lining in the uterus (since the female doesn’t need it because of not being pregnant), the uterus contracts to push it out. Hormones (prostaglandins) trigger this reaction and the higher the levels of hormones, the more intense the pain.

But what if you suspect it’s something else? What if the pain goes on unusually long and/or makes you miss day(s) of your normal schedule on a regular basis? You may need to check with your doctor, because sometimes, menstrual cramps can be caused by the following:

Endometriosis - In this painful condition, the type of tissue that lines your uterus becomes implanted outside your uterus, most commonly on your fallopian tubes, ovaries or the tissue lining your pelvis.

Uterine fibroids - These noncancerous tumors and growths in the wall of the uterus rarely may be the cause of pain.

Adenomyosis - In this condition, the tissue that lines your uterus begins to grow into the muscular walls of the uterus.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.