What is Dysmenorrhea (Menstrual Cramps) And How Does It Affect You?

What Is Dysmenorrhea?

A woman’s body naturally prepares for pregnancy every month, with the uterus building an additional lining to support the foetus. However, when pregnancy does not occur, the endometrium (uterus lining) sheds – a process also known as menstruation.

Menstruation is a normal body function of vaginal bleeding that corresponds to a woman’s monthly cycle. However, dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps) is a common gynaecologic disorder that occurs due to menstruation. There are reports stating the prevalence rate to be as high as 90%. According to a study by Dr. Laeth Nasir & Dr Edward T.Bope – 1 in 13 sufferers are incapacitated for 1 to 3 days per month.


Types Of Dysmenorrhea

Dysmenorrhea may be primary (no associated organic pathology) or secondary (with demonstrable pathology).

  1. Primary dysmenorrhea tends to occur with the genesis of the menstrual cycle. It is correlated with prostaglandin-mediated symptoms, for instance, nausea, diarrhoea, dizziness and vomiting.
  2. Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by a disorder or disease, which brings about pelvic pain. It begins in women who are in their late teens or early twenties and progressively worsens, unlike primary dysmenorrhea. The pelvic pain begins before their menstruation cycle and continues during and even after the cycle.

Gynaecological complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, leimyomata and adenomyosis can cause secondary dysmenorrhea.
When secondary dysmenorrhea gets bad, it causes endometriosis.

Which Side-Effects Of Dysmenorrhea Affect Me?

Side Effects of Primary Dysmenorrhea (alphabetical order)

  1. Bloating
  2. Breast Tenderness
  3. Diarrhoea
  4. Emotional
  5. Faintness
  6. Headaches
  7. Nausea
  8. Tiredness

Side Effects of Secondary Dysmenorrhea (alphabetical order)

  1. Bleeding between periods
  2. Bleeding becomes heavier
  3. Change in the intensity and length of your menstrual pain
  4. Irregular periods
  5. Pain between periods
  6. Pain during sex
  7. Pain in your rectum
  8. Vaginal discharge

You should see your doctor if you develop any of these problems.

How Does It Affect Me?

The side-effects listed above would definitely affect you and your lifestyle. But here are some other effects of dysmenorrhea:

  1. It has been claimed to be the leading cause of absence from school and work among females.
  2. It might affect your work-out routine.
  3. Can cause issues with fertility and pregnancy.
  4. Social anxiety issues.
  5. Depression and mood swings throughout the day.
  6. Change in appetite (could lead to weight gain or weight loss)


Treatment For Dysmenorrhea

Recently, research has been done to improve the treatment of this condition using various therapeutic measures (such as local heat) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Here are a list of treatment:

  1. Alternative Painkillers: Panadaol or Paracetamol
  2. Anti-Inflammatory Painkillers: prescribed by your doctor, ibuprofen
  3. Contraceptive Pills/Patch: combined hormonal contraceptive
  4. Heat: hot water bottles/bags or heating pads (MenstruHeat)
  5. TENS: transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation



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Apekshya is an eternal panda. She loves to eat, sleep and then eat some more. In her spare time, she writes, then sleeps again. She also constantly dreams about being a superstar, and then eats (because she is not). If you understand her pain, she is open to receiving chocolates on a daily basis.

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