Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for pain with menstruation. There are two kinds of dysmenorrhea: primary and secondary.
Primary dysmenorrhea is regular menstrual cramps that are repetitive and are not because of different ailments. Pain for the most part starts 1 or 2 days prior, or when menstrual bleeding begins, and is felt in the lower abdomen, back, or thighs. Pain can go from mild to severe, can normally last 12 to 72 hours, and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, weakness, and even diarrhea.
Secondary dysmenorrhea is pain that is caused by a disorder in the woman’s reproductive organs, such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids, or infection. Pain from secondary dysmenorrhea usually begins earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasts longer than common menstrual cramps. The pain is not typically accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fatigue, or diarrhea.
What Causes Dysmenorrhea?
Menstrual cramps are caused by contractions (tightening) in the uterus (which is a muscle) by a chemical called prostaglandin. The uterus, where a baby grows, contracts throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle. During menstruation, the uterus contracts more strongly. If the uterus contracts too strongly, it can press against nearby blood vessels, cutting off the supply of oxygen to the muscle tissue of the uterus. Pain results when part of the muscle briefly loses its supply of oxygen.
How Does Secondary Dysmenorrhea Cause Menstrual Cramps?
Menstrual pain from secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by a disease in the woman’s reproductive organs. Conditions that can cause secondary dysmenorrhea include:
- Endometriosis – A condition in which the tissue lining the uterus (the endometrium) is found outside of the uterus.
- Adenomyosis – A condition where the lining of the uterus grows into the muscle of the uterus.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease – An infection caused by bacteria that starts in the uterus and can spread to other reproductive organs.
- Cervical stenosis – Narrowing of the opening to the uterus.
- Fibroids (benign tumors) – Growths on the inner wall of the uterus.
Muscle spasms which are often experienced during menstruation and can be very painful. Massage therapy is a natural and effective method for alleviating muscle spasms. Slowing down the nervous system and stimulation to the musculature through massage can help relieve back pain and aching joints, abdominal pain, and hormonal headaches. Our therapists use essential oils, such as lavender, clary sage and marjoram to reduce the symptoms experienced during menstruation.
Do you suffer from painful menstrual symptoms? Why not take steps towards overcoming your discomfort. Get the relief you need by booking a massage with one of our specialized Registered Massage Therapists.
A naturopathy doctor will investigate whether the cramping is due to dysmenorrhea if there is another underlying cause such as endometriosis. Herbs that help regulate hormones and stress levels can help with menstrual disorders of all kinds. A naturopathy doctor can order hormone testing to identify if there are any imbalances that may be contributing to symptoms.Treatment can be focused on the person, not just on menstrual pain. Incorporating the right healthy foods and exercise can help reduce symptoms of PMS. Drug free pain solutions are available and treatments can include supplements and acupuncture. If you are currently on medication and prescribed supplements a naturopathy doctor will check if there are any interactions with current medications before prescribing to ensure there are no interactions.
Acupuncture is a technique of healing using thin needles to stimulate specific areas on the body, it is a therapy that balances the ‘energy’ systems of the body. By correcting the imbalances, the body can work to heal itself. Acupuncture is a great way to regulate your cycle and stagnation is the main reason for menstrual cramps and PMS. Stasis is when your body’s energy and blood are stuck. Most women with stasis have mood issues, bloating, and cramps with clots. Inserting the acupuncture needles in strategic spots helps get blood and energy flowing alleviating many menstrual symptoms. Acupuncture can also help regulate your cycle and help to lighten blood flow.
Acupuncture is safe and has few common side effects, which is why so many prefer it to painkillers and medication. Some patients might see slight bruising or light bleeding at the insertion site, but it is otherwise totally painless.
Massage therapy, naturopathy and acupuncture are great treatments to help you ease the effects of dysmenorrhea. To make an appointment, contact Ultimate Health Clinic today at (905) 251-0162.