Menstrual cramps trouble many women every month, but the cause is unknown. In fact, the causes of menstrual cramps are more diverse than you think, and there are appropriate treatments.
Causes, Types, and Symptoms of Menstrual Pain
Few women know exactly what causes menstrual cramps. There are women who do not have menstrual cramps at all, but there are women who suffer from menstrual cramps every month.
Menstruation is a periodic bleeding in the uterus of a mature woman, and menstruation continues for 3 to 7 days with an average interval of 28 days.
Causes of Menstrual cramps
Menstruation is accompanied by menstrual bleeding and mild abdominal pain.
Menstrual blood is discharged through the vagina along with bleeding as the thickened uterine mucosa falls off if fertilization of the monthly egg does not occur. The menstrual cycle is also affected by hormonal activity.
The pain felt during menstruation is also called menstrual cramps, and cramps or intermittent pain is felt in the lower abdomen.
Menstrual cramps are a common symptom, and it is known that 10% of women feel pain enough to make daily life inconvenient during menstruation.
It is a common assumption that menstrual cramps are caused by excessive production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are synthesized in large amounts when the endometrium falls off and are known to act on the pelvic area and uterine contractions.
Types of Menstrual cramps
Types of menstrual cramps can be divided into primary and secondary according to the cause.
- Primary dysmenorrhea: Unrelated to other conditions, the pain develops several days before menstruation and continues for as long as menstrual bleeding. Pain decreases with age and sometimes improves after pregnancy. If prostaglandins are synthesized in large amounts, primary dysmenorrhea may occur naturally.
- Secondary dysmenorrhea: It can occur when there is a problem with the female genitalia. The main causes of secondary dysmenorrhea are endometriosis and fibroids. Although endometriosis is difficult to treat and diagnose, fibroids can be treated clinically or surgically.
Menstrual Pain Symptoms
Typical menstrual cramps are intermittent and appear 2 days before menstruation. The pain is usually in the lower abdomen, but sometimes it spreads to the lower back.
In addition to pain, the following symptoms may appear during menstruation:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Diarrhea or changes in bowel movements
Certain Circumstances that Cause Menstrual Cramps
There are also menstrual pain associated with certain situations, and there are women who feel pain in the lower abdomen every month due to certain stimuli they experience in daily life.
According to scientists, stress is also a trigger for menstrual cramps. Many women experience menstrual cramps when they feel stressed or tense.
Women who smoke also have severe menstrual cramps, and the longer the smoking period, the more intense the pain.
Conversely, exercise has the effect of activating blood circulation and relieving menstrual cramps.
Regular exercise relieves stress and tension, thus eliminating psychological factors that cause menstrual cramps.
How to Treat Menstrual Cramps
Oral contraceptives (OCP) have side effects, but they are effective.
Primary dysmenorrhea can be effective as a pain reliever, but secondary dysmenorrhea may have an underlying cause such as endometriosis or fibroids, so treatment is essential.
Menstrual pain medications are as follows:
- Oral contraceptives that lower prostaglandin levels are effective for menstrual cycle control and pain relief. Low levels of prostaglandins are the reason why most women taking birth control pills do not experience cramps.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used to relieve menstrual pain. Although there is no scientific evidence that vitamin supplements are effective for menstrual cramps, magnesium and zinc may benefit women’s health
- B vitamins are being studied as a supplement to relieve menstrual cramps.
If menstrual pain is too severe, it is best to consult a doctor to find out the cause and receive appropriate treatment.
Relieving stress and exercising regularly can also help eliminate the cause of menstrual cramps and relieve pain as much as possible.