What Causes Dysmenorrhea?

More than half of all women who have periods report pain at least one or two days out of every cycle. Painful periods, also known as dysmenorrhea, are the most common of all menstrual disorders.

At Physicians for Women in Madison, Wisconsin, our team of compassionate reproductive health specialists can help figure out what might be causing your painful periods, and come up with gynecological solutions. 

Dysmenorrhea basics

Some discomfort, cramping, and bloating is normal when you’re on your period. But cramps that are so bad you can't function and have to stay home from work or school, while common, aren’t so normal. If you’re experiencing such intense pain before and during menstruation, you probably have dysmenorrhea.

When you’re nearing time for your period to start, your uterus gets ready to shed its lining. Chemicals called prostaglandins are released and cause an inflammatory response. Your uterus contracts, and the more prostaglandins are present, the harder it clenches down. This can make you have severe cramps anywhere from a couple of days before your bleeding starts through the first few days of your period itself.

Dysmenorrhea symptoms

Signs of painful menstruation can include any or all of the following:

Some women have painful periods starting from their very first menstruation, and continue having issues until their periods stop with menopause. This is called primary dysmenorrhea. Other women begin having symptoms later in life, from a specific physical cause. This is called secondary dysmenorrhea. 

Dysmenorrhea causes

In most cases of primary dysmenorrhea, a cause for excessive prostaglandin production can’t be found. For women with secondary dysmenorrhea, the cause could be any of the following:

Dysmenorrhea treatment

Treatment for primary dysmenorrhea includes over-the-counter pain relievers, heating pads, rest, relaxation, exercise, or intercourse. Each woman is different, and you’ll probably have to try a few different things to find out what works best for you.

Treatment for secondary dysmenorrhea depends on the underlying cause. If you have endometriosis, hormonal contraceptives (birth control) may help. If you have pelvic inflammatory disease, you may need a round of antibiotics and to abstain from sex for a while. 

You shouldn’t have to suffer with painful periods for life. Call our office at 608-218-4835 today or schedule a consultation using our online booking system. We can help identify the causes of your dysmenorrhea and relieve your symptoms.

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