Patient's Complete Guide to Menstrual Cramps

Overview of Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual cramps (حیض کا درد) or dysmenorrhea refers to the throbbing pain or cramps in your lower abdominal area. Most women experience these cramps during their periods or just before having their periods.

The severity of these cramps varies from person to person. For some women, these cramps result in slight discomfort while for others it can be quite difficult to bear with pain. Over time the severity of menstrual cramps reduces naturally.

Signs and Symptoms of Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual cramps symptoms can vary from woman to woman. However, some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Throbbing pain that affects your lower abdominal area
  • Pain in your other areas such as back, thighs, and hips
  • Feeling of heaviness in your abdominal area

Sometimes, menstrual cramps can bring other symptoms along, including:

 

Causes of Menstrual Cramps

When it comes to menstrual cramps, uterine (womb) contractions are considered to be a prominent cause. These contractions come from the release of hormone-like substances known as prostaglandins. Uterus contractions result in blocking blood supply in the nearby area. Due to interrupted blood supply, there is reduced oxygen supply to the affected area that results in painful cramps.

Sometimes several conditions can also result in painful menstrual cramps. These conditions include:

  • Endometriosis - This condition that causes the womb tissues to grow outside it.
  • Uterine Fibroids - It refers to the cellular growth in the walls of the uterus
  • Adenomyosis - In adenomyosis, your uterine lining tissues start becoming muscular.
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) - It is the infection caused by sexually transmitted bacteria that affects the female reproductive organs.
  • Cervical Stenosis - In women suffering from cervical stenosis, the cervical opening is narrower than normal which results in pressure in the uterus.

Risk Factors of Menstrual Cramps

You can be at the risk of getting severe menstrual cramps if you:

  • are younger than 30 years
  • have a family history of menstrual cramps
  • got your first periods before you were 11 years old
  • suffer from heavy bleeding during your periods (menorrhagia)
  • are suffering from irregular periods (metrorrhagia)
  • are a smoker
  • are stressed or suffering from depression
  • are obese or overweight

Complications of Menstrual Cramps

 

Menstrual cramps generally do not result in any medical complications. However, severe cramps can affect your daily life activities.

Prevention

Prevention of menstrual cramps is not possible. However, you can reduce the severity of cramps with the following tips:

  • Management of body weight
  • Choosing the right foods
  • Doing physical activity
  • Quitting habits like smoking

Diagnosis

Menstrual cramps are natural however, sometimes severe menstrual cramps can occur due to an underlying medical condition. Here are some of the ways in which your physician depends upon to diagnose the underlying cause of the problem.  These include:

  • Medical History: Your doctor can analyze your previous medical history to determine your chances of suffering from any underlying cause of severe menstrual cramps. This also takes in your family history.
  • Physical Examination: Physical examination in this case is mostly the pelvic exam. This pelvic analysis helps your physician to look for the signs of a bacterial infection or other reproductive tract abnormalities such as narrow cervical opening etc.
  • Image Testing: Image testing helps your physician to visualize your reproductive structures such as the uterus, ovaries, cervix, etc. Usually, an ultrasound scan is enough. However, for detailed examination sometimes MRI or CT scan can be used.
  • Laparoscopy: Laparoscopy is not commonly used. However, if image scans are not enough, your doctor uses a camera lens to visualize the structures internally.

Treatment of Menstrual Cramps | When to Consult a Doctor

Severity of menstrual cramps can be reduced by using the following treatment options.

Medications

Different medications are used to relieve the severity of pain. Among these medications, two types of medicines are most common, including:

  • Pain-relief Medications (generally these are over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications)
  • Hormonal Birth Control (given as pills, patches, or vaginal rings)

Note: Consult your doctor before taking any medications

Lifestyle Management

Sometimes lifestyle changes can help to reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. These lifestyle changes include:

  • Try to maintain a healthy weight
  • Learn the stress management techniques
  • Use dietary supplements such as vitamins and minerals supplements
  • Workout regularly as physical activity can help to relieve the pain

Alternative Therapies

Sometimes alternative therapies can also be used to treat menstrual cramps. Some of these therapies include:

  • Acupuncture - In this therapy small-sized needles are inserted into your body at certain targeted points.
  • Acupressure - Just like acupuncture, acupressure also targets the points in your body to reduce the pain but applying gentle pressure.

Surgical Treatments

Sometimes surgical removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) can be used as the last treatment option to treat conditions like fibroids. This is only an option for females who don’t want a pregnancy in future.

Healthcare Providers

Consult with Best Doctors for Menstrual Cramps

Dr. Madiha Zeeshan, Gynecologist
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Dr. Nargis Waqar

Speciality for Menstrual Cramps

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