DYSMENORRHEA

What is Dysmenorrhea?

Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for pain with menstruation. There are two types of dysmenorrhea: “primary” and “secondary”.

Primary dysmenorrhea is common menstrual cramps that are recurrent (come back) and are not due to other diseases. Pain usually begins 1 or 2 days before, or when menstrual bleeding starts, and is felt in the lower abdomen, back, or thighs. Pain can range from mild to severe, can typically last 12 to 72 hours, and can be accompanied by nausea-and-vomiting, fatigue, and even diarrhea. Common menstrual cramps usually become less painful as a woman ages and may stop entirely if the woman has a baby.

Secondary dysmenorrhea is pain that is caused by a disorder in the woman’s reproductive organs, such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids, or infection. Pain from secondary dysmenorrhea usually begins earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasts longer than common menstrual cramps. The pain is not typically accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fatigue, or diarrhoea.

Why are some cramps so painful?

Menstrual cramps are caused by the uterine contractions that occur in response to prostaglandins and other chemicals. The cramping sensation is intensified when clots or pieces of bloody tissue from the lining of the uterus pass through the cervix, especially if a woman’s cervical canal is narrow.

 

The difference between menstrual cramps that are more painful and those that are less painful may be related to a woman’s prostaglandin levels. Women with menstrual cramps have elevated levels of prostaglandins in the endometrium (uterine lining) when compared with women who do not experience cramps. Menstrual cramps are very similar to those a pregnant woman experiences when she is given prostaglandin as a medication to induce labor.

How are menstrual cramps diagnosed?

Our specialist will review your medical history and perform a physical exam, including a pelvic exam. During the pelvic exam, we will check for abnormalities in your reproductive organs and look for signs of infection.

If we suspect that a disorder is causing your menstrual cramps, he or she may recommend other tests, such as:

  • This test uses sound waves to create an image of your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
  • Other imaging tests. A CT scan or MRI scan provides more detail than an ultrasound and can help us diagnose underlying conditions. CT combines X-ray images taken from many angles to produce cross-sectional images of bones, organs and other soft tissues inside your body.
  • MRI uses radio waves and a powerful magnetic field to produce detailed images of internal structures. Both tests are noninvasive and painless.
  • Although not usually necessary to diagnosis menstrual cramps, laparoscopy can help detect an underlying condition, such as endometriosis, adhesions, fibroids, ovarian cysts and ectopic pregnancy. During this outpatient surgery, our specialist views your abdominal cavity and reproductive organs by making tiny incisions in your abdomen and inserting a fiber-optic tube with a small camera lens.
Planning Ahead
You may wish to prepare a list of questions to ask before seeing us so that you will not miss out anything important. Ask for the appointment on a day when you know you will not be having your period. Be sure to bring a list of all medications and supplements that you are taking.
Can I walk in for an appointment or service?
We want to make sure we cater enough time for your visit with our doctor. As such, we strongly advise that you make a prior appointment with our staff. Our specialist will then meet you on the allocated time for a detailed discussion. Please call or email us for an appointment.
Related Articles:

Endometriosis >> There is a possibility that Dysmenorrhea might be caused by Endometriosis, check your Endometriosis symptoms here.

Uterine Fibroids >> Another possibility that Dysmenorrhea might be caused by Uterine Fibroids, check your Uterine Fibroids symptoms here.

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