By Dr Harsh Sharma, DHMS, BHMS
Published July 11, 2014, Last updated September 28, 2018
What is Dysmenorrhea
Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for painful periods or painful menses or the pain and cramps that occur just before or during the periods. The incidence of dysmenorrhea or painful menses is so common that almost every female suffers from it, some regularly and others once in a while. In fact, some females tend to think that painful menses are a normal occurrence for every one and it is perfectly normal for one to have pain during the periods or just before it while this is not at all the case.
Symptoms of Dysmenorrhea or painful menses
The pain varies from mild discomfort to severe pain to violent cramps or colic sort of pain. In some cases, the pain may be so severe and disabling that one is forced to remain bedridden and cannot carry on one’s normal day to day activity. Sometimes, the pain is accompanied by nausea or even vomiting while some patients tend to get loose motions along with the pain. Headache, irritability and lack of appetite may also be present.
The seat of the pain is usually lower abdomen, back and thighs. In some cases, the pain is also felt in the upper abdomen or the stomach region and may be present in the lower legs also. Usually, the pain starts just before the menses start but in some cases, the pain starts a day or two before the onset of menses. The severity of the pain is more on the first day of the menses, so much so that it may force the patient to discard all activities and seek rest. The pain usually decreases after the first day and may completely disappear. It has been observed that some females are relieved by bending double or by hot fomentation.
Types of Dysmenorrhea
Dysmenorrhea is classified into two types- primary and secondary depending upon the time of onset of the problem and the cause. Primary dysmenorrhea is the one that starts at the age of puberty when the menses appear for the first time and when the pain starts later on in life, it is known as secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea does not involve any structural or pathological changes which means that there is nothing wrong as such with the organs involved. It is just functional and is not the cause of any abnormality in the system. In such cases, the pain occurs because of the strong contractions of the uterus that occur to propel the contents of the uterus. Here, one needs to understand that the uterus is a large mass of muscle and it contracts and relaxes just like any other muscle. In case the contractions are stronger than usual, the blood supply to the muscle decreases as the arteries get compressed because of the strong contraction. This decrease in blood supply results in decrease or even momentary stoppage of oxygen to the muscle causing a deficiency of oxygen. The pain is felt because of this deficiency of oxygen. It is similar to the pain caused in angina which occurs due to decrease of blood supply to the heart muscle and consequently a deficiency of oxygen, although angina is much more troublesome and may even be life threatening which is not the case with dysmenorrhea.
Secondary dysmenorrhea usually has some cause which results in the pain and can be diagnosed with proper examination of the patient. The usual causes of secondary dysmenorrhea are endometriosis, uterine firboids, ovarian cysts or simply an infection. Some times, the pain may be accompanied by a disturbance in the menstrual cycle like irregular menstrual cycle or profuse bleeding or discharge of clots along with the normal blood. Most of the patients just keep on taking painkillers and keep enduring the problem. It is important that a thorough examination be made, investigations done and the exact cause of this trouble be diagnosed. Once the exact cause is known, the treatment will make sure that the pain is cured.
Helpful Tips for dysmenorrhea
- Regular intake of Vitamins B3 and C help in relieving painful menses.
- Pain is also relieved by regular meditation and deep breathing exercises.
- Regular yogic exercises control the incidence of dysmenorrhea.
- Use of warm fomentation and rest provide temporary relief.
Homoeopathy cures dysmenorrhea
Homeopathy has shown wonderful results in the treatment of dysmenorrhea or painful menses. While medicines like Mag Phos, Arsenic, Belladonna and Pulsatilla provide temporary relief, a carefully selected medicine taking into account the whole patient can easily stop the recurrence of this problem.