Almost all women experience menstrual cramps at one time or another. If you think about what our bodies go through, the whole process of shedding the uterus of it’s bloody lining and then rebuilding the lining every few weeks, it’s mind boggling!
There is no other process similar to it…it simply sounds painful doesn’t it?
Physicians separate menstrual cramps into 2 general categories for ease of diagnosis and treatment.
1. Primary Dysmenorrhea
-which involves cramping pain from the cycle itself.
-this occurs usually more often in the teen years and tends to lessen over time
2. Secondary Dysmenorrhea
-this is the more common and more complicated type.
-typically not related to the menstrual cycle. Usually suspects are endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, adenomyosis, infections, structural issues with the uterus itself, pregnancy issues, etc.
-treatment for this category can be more specific and require more testing, medications and even surgical procedures.
Overall, no matter the cause of painful menstruation, if you experience more than 2-3 days of pain or pain that it so severe it causes you to be nauseous, vomit or have fevers and chills- get evaluated, get help.
For your mild to moderate cramping you can try:
1. Pre-medicating yourself with ibuprofen twice a day the 2 or 3 days prior to the predicted start of your menses. Since this type of medication works directly on the glands that cause the uterine pain it is very effective.
Though other sources and doctors list Tylenol (acetaminophen) as a medication option, I have found it very weak to not helpful at all in treating my patients perhaps because I see the patients who have more significant pain. If Tylenol worked those lucky women don’t need the doctor right?
2. Hot water bottle or heat pads on the lower stomach area for 1-2 hours on the first couple of nights can also help.
3. Maintain a healthier weight with regular exercise,
4. Hydrate well. Soothing and relaxing caffeine free teas work best.