What Is Dysmenorrhea?
Menstrual cramp or dysmenorrhea is the pain experienced during menstrual period. The intensity of the pain may range from mild to severe; while severe pain restricts some women from performing daily activities, few women report no pain whatsoever. Dysmenorrhea affects about 40 – 70% of women belonging to the reproductive age group. This pain gradually diminishes as women age, and usually disappears after they deliver a baby.
Dysmenorrhea can be of two types – primary and secondary.
Primary dysmenorrhea is the pain during menstrual cycle, which is not due to any other diseases. The pain is often felt in the back, lower abdomen or thighs; it typically starts 1 or 2 days prior, or when menstrual bleeding begins, and usually lasts from 12 to 72 hours. This pain is associated with uterine muscle contractions which is stimulated by the hormone, prostaglandin. This may also result in uterine ischemia (lack of blood supply to the uterus), which increases the severity of the pain. Some women may have nausea, fatigue, vomiting, and even diarrhoea.
Primary dysmenorrhea occurs due to increased production of prostaglandins, which in turn results in the decrease of progesterone levels. In addition, if estrogen levels increase, salt and fluids are retained, adding to the pain.<
Secondary dysmenorrhea is the pain caused by another condition related to woman’s reproductive organ, like adenomyosis, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or an infection. This type of pain typically begins early and lasts longer than normal menstrual cramps. In secondary dysmenorrhea, the pain is not associated with nausea, fatigue, vomiting, or diarrhoea.