cramps are otherwise known as painful menstruation or DYSMENORRHOEA.
It is the most common of all gynaecological complaints. Many women
experience pain or discomfort at the time of periods. The pain ranges
from mild to very severe type that can even interfere with their
daily routine. This may necessitate leave from the place of work
or absence from school for one or two days. However positive we
are in our outlook if we are among those who experience severe menstrual
cramps we will probably only seek ways and means of getting rid
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, constipation or headaches
may accompany menstrual pain. The pain usually starts just before
the periods, peak within 24 hours and subside after a day or two.
WHAT CAUSES PAINFUL PERIODS?
It is thought to be associated with hormone like substances known
as prostaglandins that cause the muscles of the uterus to contract.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF DYSMENORRHOEA?
- PRIMARY: This is the common
type of menstrual pain that occurs in other wise healthy women.
It occurs most often in girls in their teens or in their twenties.
- SECONDARY: This type of pain
is more serious that can be due to an under lying disease process.
It is found commonly in women after the age of 30. The cause may
be pelvic inflammatory disease which is the infection of the upper
genital tract, tumours of the uterus known as the fibroids, endometriosis
DO INTRAUTERINE COPPER DEVICES
ALWAYS CAUSE PAINFUL PERIODS?
The presence of an intrauterine copper device may OCCASIONALLY be
a cause of menstrual cramps.
WHAT ARE THE METHODS TO MINIMIZE MENSTRUAL
WHEN SHOULD YOU CONSULT THE DOCTOR?
- Life style changes may be helpful. Regular exercises such as
waist bending, stretching, yoga, walking etc can be useful in
minimizing the menstrual cramps by improving the blood flow.
- Dietary changes like avoiding
foods rich in arachidonic acid, a fat used in our body to produce
prostaglandins, which include animal foods and dairy products.
Excess salt may aggravate the cramps by increasing the retention
of fluid. Avoiding alcohol may give relief from menstrual pain.
- A well balanced diet with
adequate fluid intake (8 to 10 glasses) is important.
- Drinking warm non-caffeinated beverages
like tea can be helpful.
- Certain foods like salmon, tuna, pumpkin, and sesame seeds
can increase the levels of anti spasmodic prostaglandins and can
give pain relief.
- Nutritional supplements like
niacin 200mg twice daily or Vitamin E 500IU per day have been
found to be of use.
- Anti prostaglandins such as
Mefenamic acid, and Ibuprofen are helpful in the relief of moderate
or severe pain. But it is important to remember that these drugs
can be taken ONLY when the symptoms first begin. If pain persists
during consecutive cycles or lasts for several days it is time
to consult the doctor.
- A warm shower or placing a
hot water bag on the abdomen may be of help.
- Light circular massage with
fingertips around the lower abdomen can be of use.
- Relaxation techniques like
meditation have been used to alleviate menstrual cramps in some
- Avoid stressful situations and
get plenty of rest.
- Women older than 30 years with severe menstrual cramps
- Cramps persisting even after the cycle is over
- Previous pain free periods that have become very painful at
- Painful periods accompanied by excessive bleeding
- Onset of pain only after the insertion of intrauterine device
- Foul smelling vaginal discharge or fever with severe menstrual
AVOID SELF MEDICATION, AS THE GREATEST
DANGER OF SELF MEDICATION IS SELF DIAGNOSIS.
is no longer a curse. The best thing to do is, besides convincing
yourself that this is not an illness, is, to stay in good physical
health which is to be obtained with healthy life style, daily exercises,
plenty of sleep, rest and of course IF POSSIBLE TRYING TO AVOID