Cramps: Menstrual

Menstrual cramps occur in women just before or at the beginning of every period. Usually the pain isn’t serious, but it can become a health issue in some women.

Medically, menstrual cramps are known as dysmenorrhea. There are two different types of menstrual cramping. If you have to endure the common menstrual cramps that are related to your monthly menstrual cycle, then the symptoms are known as primary dysmenorrhea. If another disease such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts or an infection is the source of the menstrual cramping and pain, this is known as secondary dysmenorrhea.

Warning Signs

Many cases of menstrual cramping are a natural part of life and can be dealt with using simple self-care strategies. Still, it’s important to be mindful of the symptoms and take action when necessary. The things you’ll want to look out for include pain at times other than right before or in the first few days of a period or pain that has begun later in life. An unusual vaginal discharge or unusual bleeding and pain that doesn’t go away even when you take medication are other warning signs that you should speak with a health care provider about your menstrual cramps.

Treatment of Menstrual Cramps

Heating pads, a warm bath and over-the-counter pain relievers are common self-care strategies for primary dymenorrhea. Some over-the-counter pain relievers are designed specifically to treat menstrual cramping.

However, women who notice any of the warning signs mentioned above and those who don't get relief from self-care strategies should talk with their health care provider. There could be an underlying cause of the menstrual cramping that will should be diagnosed and treated.

SOURCES: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; American Academy of Family Physicians

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