Dysmenorrhea, also called painful periods, menstrual cramps, and dysmenorrhea, is the pain felt during menstruation. Experienced by females, the condition starts around the onset of the menstrual period.
According to EMedicine, dysmenorrhea may affect over half of the population of menstruating women, with the prevalence reportedly highly variable. As per the publication, a survey of 113 patients in a family practice setting revealed a prevalence of 29 to 44 percent; however, the numbers reflect as high as 90 percent in women agent 18 to 45 years.
It is added that primary dysmenorrhea is very high in late adolescence and early adulthood, but the rate declines with aging and growing parity. In an adolescent population, the prevalence of dysmenorrhea is reportedly 59.7 percent and in terms of pain, 12 percent reported severe, 37 percent as moderate, and 49 percent as mild. In terms of worldwide cases, the prevalence of dysmenorrhea on a global scale is similar to that of the United States, as the prevalence was between 15.8 percent to 89.5 percent.
Signs and Symptoms
Dysmenorrhea presents a number of signs and symptoms, but as per Body and Health, pain is the main symptom. As per the publication, the pain starts in the lower abdomen during menstruation and it can be felt in the hips, thighs, and lower back. In addition, the subject may experience nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, general pain, and diarrhea.
As per EMedicine, the signs and symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea include cramping or labor-like pain and constant lower abdominal pain, which radiates to the back or thigh. For secondary dysmenorrhea, the symptoms begin in the 20s to 30s or following previous painless cycles. These include heavy menstrual flow or irregular bleeding, pelvic abnormality upon physical examination, vaginal discharge, and poor response to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) or oral contraceptives.
While medications are available as part of management plan for dysmenorrhea, home remedies can also be done to relieve the pain. According to Web MD, a heating pad or hot water bottle may be placed on the person’s lower back or abdomen. The rational is to increase blood flow to the uterus, after being impeded after cutting oxygen supply to the uterus secondary to uterine contraction. As per the publication, the person may also massage her lower back and abdomen and rest, in addition to avoiding foods that have salt, caffeine, and alcohol.
Chamomile tea is another remedy for dysmenorrhea. According to Medical Daily, a study showed that the tea, which is known for its fragrance, has pain-reliving properties. In a statement, as cited by the publication, Imperial College of London chemist Elaine Holmes said that the study was one of a growing number of studies that provided evidence that commonly used natural products really did contain chemicals that might be of medicinal value. It is added that the subjects’ urine samples had a boost in the natural anti-inflammatory called hippurate, which is associated in reduced prostaglandin production; thus, it helps relieve menstrual cramps.
Another way to relieve dysmenorrhea is to consume a low fat diet. In a statement, as cited by Everyday Health, UCLA Health ob/gyn and professor Aldo Palmieri said that a low fat diet actually decreased overall levels of inflammation in the body. Thus, it is a factor to be considered when it comes to menstrual cramps. As per the American Heart Association of AHA, the person may try to get 25 to 35 percent of her total daily calories from healthier fats, which can be obtained in nuts, vegetables oils, and fish.
Dysmenorrhea is part of every woman’s life, though it is not as severe as tuberculosis, stroke, and cancer. However, those who suffer from extreme pain should seek medical consult from health professionals for proper assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, evaluation, and medical advice.