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Managing Menstrual Pain

March 9, 2018

Menstrual pain, also known as menstrual cramps, is estimated to occur in 20% to 90% of women of reproductive age and it is the most common menstrual disorder. Menstrual pain can be classified as either primary or secondary based on the absence or presence of an underlying cause. Secondary is associated with an existing condition where primary is not.



The main symptom is pain concentrated in the lower abdomen or pelvis. It is also commonly felt in the right or left side of the abdomen and may radiate to the thighs and lower back. Symptoms often co-occurring with menstrual pain include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, headache, dizziness, disorientation, hypersensitivity to sound, light, smell and touch, fainting, and fatigue. Symptoms of menstrual pain often begin immediately after ovulation and can last until the end of menstruation, because it is often associated with changes in hormonal levels in the body that occur with ovulation.


Management of Menstrual Pain

Home care treatments may be successful in relieving painful menstrual periods and can include:

  • Using a heating pad on pelvic area or back

  • Taking a warm bath

  • Massaging abdomen

  • Eating light, nutritious meals and reducing intake of salt, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar to prevent bloating 

  • Regular physical exercise

  • Practicing relaxation techniques or yoga

  • Taking vitamin B1, vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and magnesium supplements

  • Taking herbal tea such as chamomile tea may help relieve menstrual pain

  • Some herbal supplements such as ginger or Chinese herbal medicine may help reduce menstrual cramps

If home treatment does not relieve menstrual pain, there are some medical treatment options depending on the severity and underlying cause of pain which include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

  • Pain relievers

  • Antidepressants

  • Surgery may be needed in rare cases



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