We just talked about some of the most common harmful possible side effects of Aspirin & other NSAIDS, which have probably gained their popularity from their fast relief of dysmenorrheal cramps.
But then, many ladies would still stick to their tablets anyway, so we may as well get real and start with practical ways to prevent these deleterious side-effects.
- When taking NSAIDs, limit your dosage and frequency of intake to that prescribed by a doctor. It is advised that ladies monitor their cycles i.e. keep records of cycle dates and preferably use the drugs just at the onset of the pains (for those who have significant monthly pains), notably on the first day of the period. This will minimize the quantity of prostaglandin release.
Also, the newer generation of NSAIDs e.g. mefenamates or ibuprofens are now preferred options to Aspirin because of their lower side effect profile.
As far as drug treatment for dysmenorrhoea goes, NSAIDs still remains the first-line choice. However where NSAIDs need to be avoided at all costs (e.g. in people with Peptic Ulcer), there are still some other drugs that may be used for symptomatic relief.
- Buscopan. Yes, Buscopan. For people who frequently patronize ‘chemists’, this drug is more commonly prescribed to calm an upset stomach in adults. It acts through a pathway that relaxes the smooth muscles of the intestines (and also the uterus, mildly). In dysmenorrhoea, the effect is to directly reduce the contractions, so it is effective only in some people.
- Nifedipine or other Beta-blockers. This one is a little complicated; basically because, these class of drugs are primarily aimed at correcting heart anomalies and have also been discovered to have a complimentary relaxing ‘side-effect’ on the smooth muscles of the uterus. In other words, these are STRICTLY prescription drugs, and when taken for dysmenorrhoea, the anticipated side effects are mainly related to the heart e.g. faster heartbeat. Again, this drug should only be taken under prescription by a doctor!
- Oral contraceptives. This is effective in most women because it is purely targeted at the female hormones and they also have the extra benefit of reducing the volume of menstrual flow. However, observational inference from our environ shows that moral grounds may preclude this option, so is largely unacceptable to unmarried ladies. You may also be interesting in these 5 other uses of Contraceptives.
- Supplements. The most touted supplements in relation to dysmenorrhoea are those containing omega-3-fatty acids, magnesium and vitamin B1. Clinical proof has not been thoroughly documented.
In reality, anyone who eats a balanced diet should have adequate supply of micro nutrients and minerals since the body only requires them in small quantities. Besides, irrespective of the fancy packs, there are still many things marketers will not tell you about supplements!
There is also a couple of non-drug self help simple tips to deal with painful menstruation such as:
- Having warm-to-hot bath. The soothing effect of the water helps relax the uterus and ease other tensions that may be contributing to the problem.
- Place a heating pad on your abdomen. The flow of heat can provide calming, temporary pain relief.
- Regular Exercises. Aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, running, bicycling, and even dancing may diminish painful cramps. Exercising seems to be a two-way strip: it may inhibit prostaglandins in some women, or help release endorphins (the brain’s natural painkillers) in some others.
- Pelvic Exercises also help a lot too.
- Surgical treatment is an option in extreme cases; but this is very rarely done solely for dysmenorrhoea (more likely when its in association with Fibroid).
In the end, I’m just a MALE doc, so ladies share your thought in the comment box below. Which of them work for you or do you have other home tricks?