What are menstrual cramps?
Menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea are the cramps or pain in the lower abdomen and the pelvic region, women go through during or before their menstrual cycles.
Intensity: For some women, the pain can be merely a nuisance but others it can be severely painful, radiating to most of their body parts.
- Throbbing pain in lower abdomen and pelvic region. Generally, 1-3 days before the first day of menstrual cycle starts or it may start along with the cycles or maybe both. In any case, it should dull significantly 2-3 days after the period starts.
- Bloating before and after the onset of menstruation is also experienced by women.
- Dull consistent ache
- Loose motion/ Diarrhea
When to call a Doctor
- If the intensity of cramps increases consistently or progressively.
- If the pain disrupts your day-to-day life.
When the period starts the uterus contracts to help release the endometrial lining. This lining contains blood vessels and tissues along with the degenerated ovum. The expulsion of this endometrial lining is made possible by generating contractions of the uterus. This is further made possible by a substance called prostaglandins. This very prostaglandin is released during experiences of pain and inflammation, hence the occurrence of menstrual cramps. Higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with more-severe menstrual cramps.
What makes it worse?
- Endometriosis: Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis.
- Uterine fibroids: Uterine fibroids are benign lumps that grow on the uterus. Symptoms may include heavy periods, cramping, painful sex, and an urge to urinate. Treatment options include hysterectomy, embolization, and hormone therapy.
- Adenomyosis: The tissue that lines your uterus begins to grow into the muscular walls of the uterus.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease: This infection of the female reproductive organs is usually caused by sexually transmitted bacteria.
- Cervical stenosis: In some women, the opening of the cervix is small enough to impede menstrual flow, causing a painful increase of pressure within the uterus.