How to reduce menstrual cramps? Why do they occur in the first place? Can we ever stop them for good or are we doomed to have them forever?
Menstrual pains are a concern of many women who suffer them monthly when they have their period. There are different causes that explain them and also several treatments to deal with them.
Just as there are women who go through their menstrual cycle without pain, there are others who suffer regular menstrual pain. In some cases, this condition can affect the quality of life significantly.
Menstruation is the vaginal bleeding that women present each month in their fertile age. It is a normal part of the menstrual cycle that, under normal conditions, is completed every twenty-eight days.
During menstruation, what appears as bleeding is the uterine endometrium. This layer of tissue forms and cyclically detaches within the woman’s uterus. The hormones actively intervene to regulate the monthly process.
When there is pain in menstruation, the clinical term that describes it is dysmenorrhea. The usual presentation is in the form of colic, that is, intermittent pains that appear and disappear rhythmically. Women refer menstrual pain to the lower abdomen.
Dysmenorrhea is quite frequent. Estimations are that about 10% of women have moderate pain associated with their menstrual cycle. Moderate pain is considered to be the one who interrupts activities of daily life.
The main hypothesis about menstrual cramps is that they happen due to an excessive amount of prostaglandins. These substances appear in abundance when the endometrium is going to detach. The function they have is to deflate the pelvic area and facilitate the contraction of the uterus.
Types of dysmenorrhea
Dysmenorrhea has two forms: primary and secondary. According to the cause of menstrual pain is that you can talk in one way or another.
In primary dysmenorrhea there is no other disease that explains the pain. In general, it is a pain that begins the days before menstruation and continues for the duration of bleeding. This improves with age and also after pregnancy, although this is not always the case.
It is assumed that the explanation of primary dysmenorrhea is given by prostaglandins. As we explained, although natural, if they occur in excess they are capable of generating pain.
On the other hand, we have secondary dysmenorrhea. These cases are due to other diseases that affect the female reproductive system. It means that another pathology has as one of its symptoms menstrual pains.
The two most common causes of secondary dysmenorrhea are endometriosis and fibroids of the uterus. The first is more difficult to treat and diagnose, while fibroids can be addressed clinically or surgically.
Menstrual pains are distinguished with the term dysmenorrhea. Depending on its cause, it can be primary or secondary.
Symptoms associated with menstrual cramps
Classic menstrual cramps are in the form of colic, intermittent, beginning two days before menstruation. The usual location is the lower abdomen, but it can radiate to the back.
Along with the pain some women also present:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea or changes in the defecation rhythm
- Particular situations
Dysmenorrhea is linked to particular situations that women may go through. It is not a pain disconnected from reality and everyday life. When presented cyclically and monthly responds to certain stimuli.
Studies have recognized that stress is one of the triggers of menstrual cramps. In stressful situations, or moments of tension, they become more evident and even more intense.
Also smoking is related. Smoking women experience more menstrual pain and more severe pain. If the habit persists, it can stimulate the pain more.
On the contrary, the practice of sport is a relief for menstrual cramps. Suspicions are that exercise improves circulation in the pelvic region, improving pain sensation in the same way.
Nor can we rule out the fact that the sport releases tension and reduces stress, which would eliminate one of the risk factors.
Constant exposure to stress is related to menstrual cramps. Suggestions are that a lot of stress makes the problem more severe.
How to reduce menstrual cramps?
There are a number of medications available for the treatment of menstrual cramps when they originate in a primary dysmenorrhea. For secondary dysmenorrhea, underlying causes such as endometriosis or fibroids should be treated. So, how to reduce menstrual cramps with drugs?
Among the drugs indicated are:
- Contraceptives: birth control pills regulate the menstrual cycle and soothe the pain that may arise. By decreasing the production of prostaglandins, they reduce their effect. Many women do not suffer from the condition because they use the pills as a method of contraception, but they benefit by this side effect.
- Anti-inflammatory: NSAIDs – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – are the choice to calm the pain associated with menstruation at specific times.
- Vitamin supplements: science has failed to demonstrate with total clarity the beneficial effect of vitamin supplements in this case. Isolated studies proved that magnesium and zinc could benefit women. Similarly, vitamin B has been studied as a possible adjuvant for treatment.
If you are a woman suffering from menstrual pain, medical consultation is essential. You will have the necessary complementary studies to find the cause and then a treatment will be established.
Achieving stress reduction and incorporating sports practices is one of the pillars of the approach. Although it is an annoying symptom it is possible to address it to control it.
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