Pains in the lower abdomen and often accompanied by headaches, nausea or diarrhoea. The cause of this disorder is now well known: the pain is caused by an increased production of substances called “prostaglandins” which are created in the pre-menstrual uterine mucosa and cause convulsive contractions of the uterus.
Primary dysmenorrhea manifests through cramping pains in the lower abdomen during the first day of the period (sometimes it can continue throughout the second, and rarely the third day of the menstruation).
One of the possible treatment options is the use of birth control pills. The success rate is about 90%, and unwanted side effects are minimal.
If a woman cannot use the pills due to health reasons, or if she is trying to conceive, there are other treatment options available (after a consultation with her gynaecologist.)
Secondary dysmenorrhea is defined as menstrual pains with an underlying physiological problem, which may eventually be removed. The characteristics of the pain associated with secondary dysmenorrhea are different to that of the primary type and can last much longer.
A gynaecologist must investigate for potential causes, of which the most common is endometriosis. It is a disease of affluence that is becoming increasingly more common in today’s society. Tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus (the uterine mucosa), grows elsewhere in the body. During menstruation, this tissue starts bleeding as well, but because the blood cannot be excreted out of the body, it causes pain. Another cause of pain is due to tissue adhesions, which are very common in endometriosis.
The treatment of endometriosis is quite difficult, and usually the treatment focus is on reducing the pain rather than on removing all the lesions caused by endometriosis.
Random and painful “menstruation”
If a woman does not usually suffer with painful periods, and she suddenly experiences unexpected bleeding alongside pain, it is always considered a serious symptom, and medical help should be sought out immediately. The cause may be unexpected pregnancy (including an ectopic pregnancy), or an infection of the uterine lining. Therefore, it is highly important that you visit your gynaecologist with any problems you may be experiencing.