Painful cramps that may occur immediately before or during the menstrual period are called as menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhoea.
There are two types of menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea
- Primary dysmenorrhea or common menstrual camps
- Secondary dysmenorrhea
Primary Dysmenorrhea – These cramps usually begin one to two years after a woman starts getting her period. Pain usually is felt in the lower abdomen or back. They can be mild to severe. Common menstrual cramps often start shortly before or at the onset of the period and continue one to three days. They usually become less painful as a woman ages and may stop entirely after the woman has her first baby.
Secondary Dysmenorrhea– These cramps are usually caused by a disorder in the woman’s reproductive organs. These cramps usually begin earlier in the menstrual cycle and last longer than common menstrual cramps.
Menstrual cramps are caused by contractions in the uterus. If the uterus contracts too strongly, it can press against nearby blood vessels, cutting off the supply of oxygen to the muscle tissue of the uterus resulting in the pain.
The symptoms of primary menstrual cramps include:
- Aching pain in the lower abdomen with mild to severe in nature
- Feeling of pressure in the abdomen
- Pain radiating to hips, lower back, and inner thighs
- If the cramps are severe then consult your doctor & she may advice you pain killers or oral contraceptives
Secondary menstrual cramps – These cramps are usually caused by the disease of reproductive organs like-
- Endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus (the endometrium) is found outside of the uterus
- Pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection caused by bacteria that starts in the uterus and can spread to other reproductive organs
- Stenosis (narrowing) of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows), often caused by scarring
- Tumors or “fibroids” or growths on the inner wall of the uterus
When to consult the doctor?
If the cramps are severe or unusual or cramping that lasts for more than two or three days, contact your health care provider. Whatever may be the causes of menstrual cramps they must be treated.
Follow the link for more, When to consult your Gynecologist?
Warning signs along with the menstrual cramps-
- Fever over 102 F
- Dizziness, fainting or near fainting
- A rash that looks like a sunburn
Tips to relieve menstrual cramps:
- Do regular exercise & yoga to stay fit & active
- Avoid foods that contain caffeine and salt.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Massage your lower back and abdomen.
- Try herbal tea- Red raspberry leaf tea is helpful in relieving menstrual cramps
- Indulge in aromatherapy- massage with lavender oil will help to relieve the pain