About painful menstrual cycles
Dysmenorrhea is a medical term used to describe the pain experienced by some women during their period. Primary dysmenorrhea is the most common type and typically occurs in women not diagnosed with any underlying condition. Generally, primary dysmenorrhea presents as persistent cramps in the lower abdomen that last throughout menstruation. The pain can range from mild to severe and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Secondary dysmenorrhea is less common but more likely to cause intense symptoms due to an underlying medical condition. Menstrual cramping can become much more severe and extend beyond the usual length or an average period. Other signs and symptoms include:
- Heavy bleeding
- Abnormal spotting between periods
Several conditions can cause painful menstrual cycles, including:
- Uterine fibroids
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Ovarian cysts
- An infection or other type of abnormality in the uterus
Sometimes, the underlying cause may not be known, but you may still treat the pain with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or hormonal birth control. If you regularly experience severe menstrual pains that interfere with your life, it’s essential to see a pelvic pain specialist as soon as possible. An accurate diagnosis will help guide treatment and address any underlying health concerns.