March 31, 2019

[DYSMENORRHEA] Menstrual Pain Or Cramps In Ladies: Why It Happens And How To Treat

Written By: Suleiman O. A (RN,)

Edited By: Obembe S.D (RN,)

Dysmenorrhea and its treatment

Menstrual  cramps are pains medically termed as Dysmenorrhea in a woman's lower abdomen and can also radiate to the lower back.

It occur when menstrual period begins (or just before) and may continue for two to three days. It may take the form of throbbing or aching and can be dull or sharp.

Menstrual pain or cramps is one of the unpleasant thing about menstrual period, it can take the form of a mild annoyance to severe pain that interferes with normal activities and sometimes even earn some people an admission in the hospital.

Menstrual pain is the leading cause of absenteeism in (school, class,  and workplaces) among women younger than 30years of age.

Classifications of menstrual pain

It can be classified in two:
  1. Primary Dysmenorrhea:  this is when a woman has had menstrual pain ever since her periods started, (i.e since her first menstruation)
  2. Secondary Dysmenorrhea: this occur as a result of condition such as pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis. Once the medical condition is treated, the menstrual pain usually goes away.

What makes you more prone to having menstrual pain?

  • If your first period comes at an early age (younger than 11 years).
  • if your periods are heavy (i.e you do see much blood/bleeding)
  •  if you are overweight or obese .
  • if you smokes cigarettes or uses (drinks) alcohol.
  • You have never been pregnant before. 

What is really happening during your menstrual period that makes you feel pain?

Prostaglandins are chemicals in a woman's body that cause many of the symptoms associated with menstrual discomfort.

Prostaglandins are produced by several structures in your body among which the tissue that lines the wall of your uterus is included.

Prostaglandins stimulate the uterine muscles to contract during menstruation.

Actually the uterine contractions is essential to push out the endometrial layer during menstruation but in cases where there is more than enough Prostaglandins in your body then the contractions can become more intense making the pain to be severe and even unbearable for some people.

Prostaglandins may also be responsible for vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches that accompany painful periods.

Menstrual pain or cramps can be accompanied by the following symptoms;

  • Lower back pain
  • Leg pain
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Weakness dizziness

Other causes of menstrual pain or cramps include;

  1. Endometriosis: a condition in which the uterine tissue appears outside the uterus)
  2. Fibroids and adenomyosis: noncancerous (benign) growths in the uterus
  3. Infections in the reproductive organs
  4. Abnormal pregnancy: such as an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the Fallopian tubes or outside the uterus)
  5. IUCD (intra-uterine contraceptive device) used for birth control.
  6. Ovarian cyst
  7. Narrow cervix

The medical management of dysmenorrhea include the use of over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics. 

You may need to see your primary care providers to discuss which drug best suit you and your condition.

How do you Prevent Menstrual Pain?

You can prevent painful menstrual cramps by:
  • Keeping normal body weight.
  • Quit smoke.
  • Drink less alcohol, if possible quit drinking.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • early marriage is also encourage (I mean for anyone above age 18years if age)
  • eat healthy and balanced diet.
  • avoid caffeinated beverages


How do you manage menstrual pain at home?

The following strategies may help relieve menstrual cramps:

  1. A heating pad (hot water bottle) to be placed on the pelvic area.
  2. Massaging the back and lower abdomen, as this tend to relax muscles in those areas.
  3. Exercise, especially before the period starts.
  4. Eat Low-fat diet during your period.


You may need to see your health care provider (Nurses, Doctors etc) for help if Menstrual cramps continue to be painful for longer than usual and is accompanied by fever, chills, or excessive bleeding.

You may need an emergency care, an admission, care under an observation or further investigation to evaluate any underlying cause.

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