Dysmenorrhea or menstrual cramps is a condition characterized by throbbing or spasmodic pain in the lower abdomen.

Many women experience menstrual cramps right before and during their menstrual cycle.

For most women, the discomfort caused is just annoying. But for others, menstrual cramps can be so severe that they prevent them from carrying out their daily activities for a few days each month.

Menstrual cramps can also be caused by health problems, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids.

Treating the underlying cause is key to reducing pain.

When spasms are not caused by illness, they tend to lessen with age and often resolve suddenly after a woman gives birth.

What are the symptoms?

• Throbbing or cramping pain in the lower abdomen, which may be very severe;
• A dull, constant aching sensation;
• Pain , which is felt in the lower back and thighs;

Some women show also the following symptoms:

• Nausea;
• Watery stools;
• Headache;
• Dizziness;

When to seek medical help?

If you have started getting regular periods in the past few years and are experiencing period pains, then there is nothing to worry about, they are completely normal.

However, if menstrual cramps seriously disrupt your life every month, or if the symptoms become more severe with each subsequent month, or you are over 25 years old and have recently started experiencing painful sensations before and during the period, then it is necessary to seek medical help.

What are the reasons?

During the menstrual cycle, the muscles of the uterus contract to expel the lining prepared for the fertilized egg, but since fertilization does not occur, this tissue must be expelled.

Hormone-like substances /prostaglandins/, responsible for pain and inflammation of the uterus, cause uterine muscle contractions.

Higher prostaglandin levels are associated with stronger menstrual cramps.

Excessive contractions can cause the blood vessels supplying the uterus to constrict.

As the pain felt by the woman can be compared in its sharpness with the chest pain that occurs when blood vessels are blocked and the related limitation of blood flow to the heart muscle and the onset of a heart attack.

Menstrual cramps can be caused by:

• Endometriosis – a painful condition in which tissue from the lining of the uterus implants outside the uterus, most often in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or the lining of the tissues of the pelvis.

• Uterine fibroids – these benign growths in the wall of the uterus can cause pain.

• Adenomyosis – a condition in which tissue from the uterine lining begins to grow into the muscular walls of the uterus.

• Pelvic inflammatory disease – this infection of the female reproductive organs is usually caused by sexually transmitted bacteria.

Treatment of dysmenorrhea

At home you can do the following:

Exercise and play sports – research has found that physical activity can ease pain due to menstrual cramps.

Taking a hot bath more often or putting warm compresses on the lower abdomen will help to ease menstrual pain.

• Include in your daily diet and nutritional supplements, as a number of studies have found that vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1 /thiamine/, vitamin B6 and magnesium can effectively reduce painful sensations before and during the menstrual cycle;

• Avoid tobacco products and alcohol;

• Try to limit stress, as it is stress that can trigger period pains.

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