Dysmenorrhea Symptoms

Last Updated: March 16 2022

Dysmenorrhea is the clinical term for the painful cramps that many women experience around the time of their period.

Summary

Dysmenorrhea[1] is the clinical term for the painful cramps that many women experience around the time of their period. There are two main types: primary dysmenorrhea, which is pain in the absence of a clear disease that’s causing it, and secondary dysmenorrhea, which is caused by an identifiable underlying illness. Dysmenorrhea impacts a large majority of women; around two-thirds of young women worldwide[2] experience it.

One of the main chemical culprits for primary dysmenorrhea is a rise in prostaglandins[3] (especially PGF), which can reduce blood flow to the uterus while also strengthening contractions. This combination lowers oxygen availability in the uterus, resulting in cramping and pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can stem this rise in prostaglandins, which is probably why they are effective for treating dysmenorrhea[4] and are recommended[5] as a first-line intervention.

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