Menstrual pain is referring to localized pain in the lower abdomen. Dysmenorrhoea affects nearly 50% of women capable of reproducing and occurs more frequently among those aged between 15 and 25 years, approximately 10% of these being actually in a state of physical disability for a few days. Dysmenorrhoea associated signs are headaches, back pain, dizziness, breast pain and digestive disorders (nausea, diarrhea, vomiting).
Associated risk factors of developing dysmenorrhea are: age younger than 20 years, precocious puberty (under 11 years), menstrual flow over the normal limits (menorrhagia), excessive smoking, emotional stress and sedentary lifestyle
Some women experience light or no menstrual pain, while others bear the drudgery of severe pain that prevents them to conduct their daily activities a few days each month. Any woman, young or older, must know that a gynecological examination is recommended in order to distinguish between a primary and secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is the most common form and is not considered the result of a condition, disease or physical abnormality while secondary dysmenorrhea can have a determined cause. Primary dysmenorrhea usually occurs in the first year of menstruation. Statistics show that during their first year of menstruation, 37% of woman experience dysmenorrhea, while 22% of experience pain in the second or third year of menstruation. In 80% of the cases, the pain begins in the first three years of menstruation. It is good to know that the pain decreases in intensity as the woman ages and can even disappear entirely after the first birth.
Secondary dysmenorrhea most often has a known cause and in most cases due to genital or extragenital pathology, which means that the problem can be caused by specific issues of the reproductive system such as problems after using an intrauterine device or due to anatomic abnormalities. Among the causes of secondary dysmenorrhea endometriosis, uterine fibroids and hormonal disorders can be mentioned.
Endometriosis is characterized by the presence of tissue similar to endometrium (uterine lining) elsewhere than normal, usually in the fallopian tubes, ovaries or pelvic tissues. The solution is correct medication, specialized treatment and sometimes surgery.
How to relieve menstrual pain
Studies have shown that there are no foods can help win the battle with dysmenorrhea, but a balanced diet with 1000 mg of calcium daily and over 1.5 liters of fluid per day can be very helpful. B6 and B11 vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc and preparations containing Omega 3 can be of great aid. Consumption of fish oil, seafood, watermelon, oranges, grapefruit, pears and nuts is also recommended. Avoid spicy foods, spices, as they increase local congestion and the inflammatory phenomena. Alcohol, however, in moderation, can also be helpful, as alcohol is known for its vasodilatation properties (process of widening blood vessels)
Patients suffering from primary dysmenorrhea can take some measures to relieve pain and reduce discomfort. Lifestyle changes are the first steps along with a balanced diet which is mandatory and essential. After the age of 20 years 8 hours of sleep each night are recommended. Also, regular exercise can reduce the negative symptoms of dysmenorrhea.
Other therapeutic options that do not use drugs include acupressure, acupuncture, behavioral therapy (as dysmenorrhea may be caused by environmental and psychosocial factors) and muscle relaxation exercises.
Your diet should necessarily contain fruits, vegetables and grains. Coffee consumption should be reduced, and hot baths, hot water bottles with warm compresses can do wonders.
The methods described above for dysmenorrhea do not require a prescription. The medical prescription implies combined oral contraceptives, medication to reduce uterine muscle spasm such as No-Spa, to to wich bed rest is added and rarely, hospitalization for exclusion or inclusion of microsurgical emergencies and a more accurate diagnosis.