Dysmenorrhea - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Dysmenorrhea is a medical term for painful menstrual periods. During periods many women complain about lower abdominal discomfort. But in this condition, the woman may complain about extreme pain such that they may pass out or feel dizzy. Severe pain occurs due to uterine contractions. It can occur due to two reasons, primary dysmenorrhea refers to recurrent pain, whereas secondary dysmenorrhea refers to the one that occurs due to an infection or abnormality in the reproductive system. 


Anatomy of the female internal reproductive organs


The female reproductive organs constitute the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and vagina.

The ovaries are responsible for producing an egg (ovum) every month, and the uterus is responsible for bearing the fetus throughout the pregnancy. The fallopian tubes, also known as oviducts, connect the uterus with the ovaries giving a passage for the egg to come to the uterus. The uterus is connected to the vagina or birth canal-a muscular canal that is responsible for the reception of the penis during sexual intercourse and the provision of a passageway for the baby during childbirth. The vagina connects the uterus to the external reproductive organs.



Symptoms


Dysmenorrhea- painful periods, may also cause the following symptoms. 


  • Backache 

  • Discomfort in the lower abdomen

  • Pain in the hips and thighs

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Dizziness 



Types 


There are two types of dysmenorrhea, primary and secondary. 


Primary dysmenorrhea


Primary dysmenorrhea is the one that comes and goes away. It occurs one to two days before the onset of periods and lasts 12 to 72 hours. Moreover, it may be accompanied by nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. However, it is related to uterine contractions due to periods. It does not occur due to abnormality in the female reproductive system. The pain may range from mild to severe and cause pain in the lower abdomen, thighs, or back. It also gets better as you age or give birth to a child. 


Secondary dysmenorrhea


Secondary dysmenorrhea occurs due to any infection or abnormality in the female reproductive tract and is not accompanied by other symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. It begins at the early phase of the menstrual cycle and remains for more time as compared to primary dysmenorrhea. 



Causes 


Primary dysmenorrhea occurs when your uterus contracts severely to shed off endometrium- cells that line the uterus and prepare it for a possible pregnancy. 


Secondary dysmenorrhea occurs due to an infection or any other abnormality of the female reproductive system. It can occur due to conditions like;


Endometriosis- it is an often painful disorder of the female reproductive system in which the tissue resembling the one that lines inside of the uterus grows outside it. The inner lining of the uterus is known as the endometrium. When it grows outside the uterus, it is abnormal and can become painful at times. 


Adenomyosis- it is an often painful disorder of the female reproductive system in which the tissue resembling the one that lines inside of the uterus grows into the muscular wall of the uterus called the myometrium, leading to its enlargement. The inner lining of the uterus is known as the endometrium. When it displaces the other tissues, the condition can result in painful and heavy periods. 


Pelvic inflammatory disease- an infection and inflammation of the female reproductive organs. 


Cervical stenosis- narrowing of the cervix- the opening to the uterus. 


Fibroids- also known as leiomyomas, myomas, or fibroma are abnormal growths that occur inside the uterus. They usually occur in childbearing age. Seldom do they turn into a cancerous growth. When they grow in size, they cause pain and heavy menstrual bleeding. 



Conclusion 


Dysmenorrhea or painful periods are often treatable. If they occur due to secondary dysmenorrhea, you can get relieved by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever. And if it occurs due to secondary dysmenorrhea, the healthcare providers will treat the underlying cause.


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