Menstrual Health, Personal Care

Dysmenorrhea: All You Need to Know

What is dysmenorrhea?

Dysmenorrhea, or painful menstrual cramps, affects more than half of menstruators, with some feeling severe discomfort.

The discomfort is normally modest, but it can be strong enough to disrupt everyday activities in certain situations.

What are the types of dysmenorrhea?

Two types of dysmenorrhea can affect menstruating people:

Primary dysmenorrhea

This form of discomfort is caused only by menstruation, with no interference from an underlying ailment. It’s been connected to prostaglandins, which are hormone-like fatty acids important for uterine contractions and inflammatory management.

The body produces more prostaglandins as progesterone levels decline at the start of a period. The quantity of these chemicals produced is usually proportional to the severity of the pain. People with primary dysmenorrhea typically have longer periods of time with greater bleeding.

Certain risk factors can also contribute to primary dysmenorrhea:

  • Anxiety or depression
  • A history of painful periods in the family
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Early menarche
  • Never having conceived


This type usually starts later in life and is caused by an underlying medical condition like:

  • Endometriosis – The uterine tissues that line the inside of the uterus develop outside instead of inside in this disease. Endometriosis is a condition that causes severe menstrual cramps and a variety of other symptoms.
  • Adenomyosis – Adenomyosis is a condition in which the uterine lining breaches through the womb’s muscular wall, causing pain and bloating before and during periods.
  • Uterine growths  – These can range from polyps to fibroids to cysts, all of which can cause uterine cramps during or outside of periods. Bloating, lower back pain, and constipation are all possible side effects.
  • Using an intrauterine device (IUD) -The use of an IUD as a contraceptive has been related to more painful periods and a higher risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) -An infection, whether caused by sex or not, can cause severe inflammation in the uterus or other pelvic organs, resulting in PID, a life-threatening condition. It can cause severe menstrual cramps and should be treated right away.
  • Structural abnormalities – Some people have structural uterine malformations, which can make periods more uncomfortable.

What are the usual symptoms?

Different symptoms are experienced by different menstruators, but they usually range from:

  • Painful cramps in the lower abdomen
  • Pain in the lower back and legs
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

How is dysmenorrhea diagnosed?

Your doctor may do a few tests to detect dysmenorrhea, in addition to reviewing your medical history. These tests may include:

Ultrasound -An image of your inside organs is formed using high-frequency sound waves to detect the underlying problem.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) -To create detailed photographs of the interior organs and bodily structure, large magnets, radio waves, and a computer are employed.

Hysteroscopy -A hysteroscope is a viewing equipment that is put into the vaginal canal to visually examine the cervix and uterus for abnormalities.

Laparoscopy – A laparoscope is a thin tube with a lens and a light that is inserted into the abdominal wall by making a small incision. The doctor uses this device to examine if there are any abnormal growths.

Are there any treatment options?

There are a few things that can help you manage your pain or get rid of your dysmenorrhea for good:

Use heat – Heat is commonly utilized to alleviate various types of pain in various places of the body. 

Try OTC pain medication – You can treat your cramps with over-the-counter pain relievers. These normally function by reducing inflammatory levels in the body.

Try orgasming – Orgasms from sex or masturbation can help with stomach cramps by releasing pain-relieving hormones called endorphins.

Exercise – According to several research, exercising for 30 minutes on a regular basis can help lessen dysmenorrhea symptoms. For cramping, aerobics or yoga are very beneficial.

Hormonal birth control -Hormonal birth control includes pills, patches, injections, hormonal IUDs, and contraceptive implants, all of which function by weakening the uterine lining and lowering prostaglandin production. Reduced bleeding and cramping may result as a result of this.

Surgical options – Dysmenorrhea can be treated with two surgical techniques. They entail cutting or damaging the uterine nerves, preventing pain signals from being transmitted. However, because nerves regenerate back and operations can be difficult, this does not produce long-term effects. As a result, always consult your doctor before undergoing any surgery.

What are the barriers to treatment?

Dysmenorrhea is a frequent condition that causes many women to skip work or school and leave them unable to carry out everyday tasks. Despite this, it might be difficult for people to seek medical care for their illness.

The reasons for this range from a widespread belief that period pain isn’t bad enough to warrant treatment to a lot of underlying sexism and gender bias. Even some doctors regard period pain as “natural,” and there is still a stigma around menstruation that stops women from sharing their discomfort or utilizing it as a legitimate excuse to miss work or school.

These barriers must be overcome before we can progress as a society and begin to take dysmenorrhea seriously and provide patients with a fair chance to receive treatment without fear of being dismissed.