Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) are throbbing or cramping pains within the lower abdomen. Many women have menstrual cramps just before and through their menstrual periods.
For some women, the discomfort is merely annoying. For others, menstrual cramps are often severe enough to interfere with everyday activities for a couple of days monthly .
Conditions like endometriosis or uterine fibroids can cause menstrual cramps. Treating the cause is vital to reducing the pain. Menstrual cramps that are not caused by another condition tend to reduce with age and sometimes improve after parturition.
Symptoms of menstrual cramps include:
Ø Throbbing or cramping pain in your lower abdomen that can be intense
Ø Pain that starts 1 to 3 days before your period, peaks 24 hours after the onset of your period and subsides in 2 to 3 days
Ø Dull, continuous ache
Ø Pain that radiates to your lower back and thighs
Some women also have:
Ø Loose stools
During your menstrual period, your uterus contracts to assist expel its lining. Hormonelike substances (prostaglandins) involved in pain and inflammation trigger the uterine muscle contractions. Higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with more-severe menstrual cramps.
Menstrual cramps can be caused by:
Ø Endometriosis. The tissue that lines your uterus becomes implanted outside your uterus, most ordinarily on your fallopian tubes, ovaries or the tissue lining your pelvis.
Ø Uterine fibroids. These noncancerous growths within the wall of the uterus can cause pain.
Ø Adenomyosis. The tissue that lines your uterus begins to grow into the muscular walls of the uterus.
Ø Pelvic inflammatory disease. This infection of the feminine reproductive organs is typically caused by sexually transmitted bacteria.
Ø Cervical stenosis. In some women, the opening of the cervix is little enough to impede menorrhea , causing a painful increase of pressure within the uterus.
You might be in danger of menstrual cramps if:
Ø You're younger than age 30
Ø You started puberty early, at age 11 or younger
Ø You bleed heavily during periods (menorrhagia)
Ø You have irregular menstrual bleeding (metrorrhagia)
Ø You have a family history of menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea)
Ø You smoke
Menstrual cramps don't cause other medical complications, but they will interfere with school, work and social activities.
Certain conditions related to menstrual cramps can have complications, though. For example, endometriosis can cause fertility problems. Pelvic disease can scar your fallopian tubes, increasing the danger of a embryo implanting outside of your uterus (ectopic pregnancy).
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