Also Known As: Painful periods, Painful menses, Dysmenorrhoea, Dysmenorrhea, Menstrual cramps
Dysmenorrhea or painful menstrual cramps, are a gynecological medical condition of pain during menstruation that interferes with daily activities, as defined by ACOG and others. Still, dysmenorrhea is often defined simply as menstrual pain, or at least menstrual pain that is excessive. This article uses the dysmenorrhea definition of menstrual pain that interferes with daily activities, and uses the term menstrual pain as any pain during menstruation whether it is normal or abnormal.
Menstrual pain is often used synonymously with menstrual cramps, but the latter may also refer to menstrual uterine contractions, which are generally of higher strength, duration and frequency than in the rest of the menstrual cycle.
Dysmenorrhea can feature different kinds of pain, including sharp, throbbing, dull, nauseating, burning, or shooting pain. Dysmenorrhea may precede menstruation by several days or may accompany it, and it usually subsides as menstruation tapers off. Dysmenorrhea may coexist with excessively heavy blood loss, known as menorrhagia.
Secondary dysmenorrhea is diagnosed when symptoms are attributable to an underlying disease, disorder, or structural abnormality either within or outside the uterus. Primary dysmenorrhea is diagnosed when none of these are detected.
The main symptom of dysmenorrhea is pain concentrated in the lower abdomen, in the umbilical region or the suprapubic region of the abdomen. It is also commonly felt in the right or left abdomen. It may radiate to the thighs and lower back.
Symptoms often co-occurring with menstrual pain include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, headache, dizziness, disorientation, hypersensitivity to sound, light, smell and touch, fainting, and fatigue. Symptoms of dysmenorrhea often begin immediately following ovulation and can last until the end of menstruation. This is because dysmenorrhea is often associated with changes in hormonal levels in the body that occur with ovulation. The use of certain types of birth control pills can prevent the symptoms of dysmenorrhea, because the birth control pills stop ovulation from occurring...