Understanding Menstrual Cramps


By amoyube1980 / May 06, 2009 /

Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for menstrual cramp. It is the uncomfortable pain the most women experience during menstruation. The cramps usually start at the lower abdomen and pelvic area which could sometimes affect even the lower back and thigh. To some this is just a minor menstrual discomfort but to others it could be severe. According to an article at MayoClinic.com, some of the more severe symptoms of dysmenorrhea are the following:

According to MedicineNet.com the prostaglandins released in the uterus during menstruation to break down the inner lining that is formed during ovulation called endometrium, causes contractions in the uterus. This same contractions continue until the dead and broken down prostaglandins are delivered out of the uterus through the cervix and out of the body. A higher level of prostaglandins in some women is believed to be one of the causes to this monthly discomfort. There are cases however when this is not the case. In others it might be one of the following:

  • Endometriosis. when the tissue that is supposed to be the inner lining becomes implanted outside of the uterus
  • Uterine fibroids. noncancerous tumors and growths in the lining of the uterus
  • Adenomyosis. the inner tissue grows in the muscular walls of the uterus
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). an infection caused by sexually transmitted bacteria
  • Cervical stenosis. small cervical opening

For some of these causes, it is best to consult a physician as some of them may cause serious complications in the future. The demographics for those who are at risk of experiencing dysmenorrhe are women below 20 years of age, those who started having menstruation 11 years or younger, those who experience heavy bleeding during menstruation and women who have never delivered a baby.

For mild cramps a few simple remedies would be adequate rest and sleep, a regular exercise regime such as walking or stretching, abdominal massage, even yoga, and one source recommends an orgasmic sexual activity. A warm bath or a heating pad applied to the lower abdomen and back might also help reduce the cramping.

For more severe pains there are medications that you can take such as Ibuprofen, naproxen or ketoprofen.

Before taking any medications though it is best to consult your physicians first.


Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.