Primary dysmenorrhea which is also known as spasmodic dysmenorrhea is defined as menstrual pain. This type of dysmenorrhea occurs a few years after a woman has had her first menstrual period. It affects 50% of all post-pubescent females.
The uterus is a muscle. Like all muscles, it can contract and relax. During your period, it contracts more strongly. Sometimes when it contracts you feel a cramping pain. Primary dysmenorrhea occurs when the uterus contracts because the blood supply to the endometrium is reduced. This pain occurs only during a menstrual cycle where an egg is released. If the cervical canal is narrow, the pain may be worse as the endometrial tissue passes through the cervix. Secondary dysmenorrhea usually begins well after the age of onset of menstruation, sometimes as late as the third or fourth decade of life.
Some women produce higher levels of prostaglandins, which may cause increased contractions of the uterus. These cramps may be more painful because there is reduced blood (and therefore oxygen) supply to the myometrium (muscle wall of the uterus) during the contractions.
Primary dysmenorrhea usually presents during adolescence and begins within three years of menarche. Pain begins with the onset of menstruation and lasts for a few hours and can be spasmodic and colicky.
Common symptoms may include:
Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help with the pain. These include ibuprofen, ketoprofen and naproxen. These medicines work well for mild or moderate pain.
Menstrual cramps have been around for thousands of years, and so have many non-medical treatments. I recommend that nonmedical remedies be used in addition to the pain medications described above. Rest and stress reduction like many other conditions, cramps may be made worse by fatigue from too many late nights and by anxiety.
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