The tissue lining a woman's uterus produces prostaglandins, the chemicals stimulate the uterine muscles causing them to contract.
Contracting uterine muscles cause menstrual cramps.
Women who have high levels of prostaglandins experience more intense uterine contractions, and therefore more intense pain.
Prostaglandins may also cause vomiting, diarrhea and headaches.
Although some pain during menstruation is normal, excessive pain is not.
The medical term for excessively painful periods is dysmenorrhea.
There are two types of dysmenorrhea: o Primary dysmenorrhea refers to menstrual pain in healthy women.
The pain is not related to any problems with the uterus or pelvic organs.
o Primary dysmenorrhea can be caused by the following: o Strong uterine contractions o Anxiety and stress o Blood and tissue being discharged through a narrow cervix o Displaced uterus o Lack of exercise o Secondary dysmenorrhea is menstrual pain that is attributed to an underlying disease or structural abnormality either within or outside the uterus.
o Secondary dysmenorrhea can be caused by the following: o Endometriosis (inflammation of the lining of the uterus) o Blood and tissue being discharged through a narrow cervix o Uterine fibroid or ovarian cyst o Infections of the uterus o Pelvic inflammatory disease o Intrauterine device o Abnormal pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancy Treatment If you have primary dysmenorrhea, there are measures you can take to ease your discomfort.
However, secondary dysmenorrhea can only be managed by first treating your underlying condition with the help of your physician.
The effects of primary dysmenorrhea can be treated with over the counter pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen.
Other home remedies for treating menstrual pain include: oApply a heating pad to the lower abdomen (do not fall asleep with it on) oTake warm showers or baths oDrink warm beverages oDo light circular massage with your fingertips around your lower abdomen oWalk or exercise regularly, including pelvic rocking exercises oAdd more complex carbohydrates to your diet such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, but decrease your intake of salt, sugar, alcohol and caffeine.
o Eat light but frequent meals o Keep your legs elevated when lying down or lie on your side with your knees bent Be sure to see your doctor immediately if you experience menstrual pain and a fever, if your vaginal discharge increases in amount or if it becomes foul-smelling, or if your pain is significant, your period is over one week late and you have been sexually active.