As part of the intricacies of being female, every ‘she’ gets to experience monthly cycles that culminate in monthly bleeding but while this blessedness is the only gateway to reproducing an offspring, it is also turns to be a painfully hellish experience for some others.
Dysmenorrhoea is the medical term used to describe pain that is associated with menstruation and it may be severe enough to disrupt daily activities. This pain may start a few days before menstruation and continue for a few days after the period has ended. Lower abdominal cramps with associated irritability, nausea, vomiting, lower back pain, and/or loose bowel movements are common monthly experiences of many women.
Types of Dysmenorrhoea & basic 1st Aid
Dysmenorrhoea may be described as primary, or secondary.
SECONDARY Dysmenorrhoea is when there is an underlying disease process such as fibroid, endometriosis, adenomyosis, ovarian cyst or even a developmental malformation.
Dysmenorrhoea is PRIMARY where there is no associated disease, and the pain is due to normal body physiology as typically seen in most adolescents.
The pain of dysmenorrhoea is caused by the release of large amounts of a hormone, prostaglandin, which causes the uterine muscles to painfully contract (cramp-like pain); therefore, drug treatment is targeted at this hormone.
But first, here are some simple practical proven techniques (with no side-effects) that have been found to be quite helpful in dealing with painful menstruation. You may not need the pills after all if these work for you:
- Applying a hot compress
- Getting a lower abdominal or back massage
- Back stretching exercises such the pelvic tilt
- Also avoid standing for a long time
- Avoid taking foods that contain caffeine- coffee, tea, cola drinks, and chocolate just before and during your period.
In mild cases, the analgesic effect of paracetamol may suffice but more specifically targeted medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, feldene, piroxicam, mefenamic acid will help reduce pain experienced during this time because their effect directly reduces the production of prostaglandins. This group of drugs (called NSAIDS) absolutely needs to be taken with food or milk to reduce their harmful effect on the stomach.
It is okay to take an analgesic as soon as you feel the cramps coming or bleeding starts.
Another treatment option is taking birth control pills (hormonal contraceptives). They act by preventing ovulation making it dual purpose. These are very effective too but it is advisable to get proper and personal medical advice first before you consider the thought of using dysmenorrhoea as a covert request for hormonal contraceptive.
If the symptoms are severe, or the pain lasts much longer than your menstrual flow, then seek medical advice.
For some others, just understanding this mechanism of dysmenorrhoea is enough solution! (It will pass in a couple of days).