3 Things to Know About Dysmenorrhea and How to Stop It
Dysmenorrhea will be one of the least favorite words of any girl boss You'll mostly associate it with pain and sick days.
Spoiler alert: it doesn’t have to stop you!
Dysmenorrhea will be one of the least favorite words of any girl boss! You'll mostly associate it with pain and sick days. Here are three things you should know about it so you can learn how to power through it and make it a little less rough.
What is Dysmenorrhea?
Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for menstrual cramps, or the throbbing pains you get during your red days. It can also mean "difficult or painful periods," depending on which type you have. The two types of dysmenorrhea are:
The more common of the two, this is the painful cramping you may feel in the lower abdomen that sometimes radiates to the lower back and thighs. It begins near the start of your red days, around one to two days before, peaks 24 hours after the start of your period, and lasts for two to three days. The pain can range from mild and just annoying to severe or so bad that you can't do anything. It's associated with other symptoms like headaches, nausea, and even diarrhea.
This type is the cramping that is the result of an underlying medical problem such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease. This dysmenorrhea more commonly occurs or is discovered later in life when the pain gets progressively worse, rather than better, over time.
What causes cramping?
During your red days, your uterine lining or endometrium thickens to prepare for pregnancy. When no pregnancy occurs, prostaglandins, or the hormone like substance that's involved in pain and inflammation, trigger uterine muscle contractions.
The contractions then let your uterus expel the lining and prepare for the next cycle. These contractions account for the cramps, and more severe pain is associated with higher levels of prostaglandins.
This means that women who suffer from painful menstrual cramps release more prostaglandins than women who don't. But you may also be more prone to cramping if you're 30 years old and younger, or if you started puberty early at age 11 or younger, or you have menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding) or metrorrhagia (irregular menstrual bleeding), or you smoke.
How do I stop it?
The good news is that as long as it's not secondary dysmenorrhea, chances are it will get better over time. Having a regular exercise routine, even during red days, helps to reduce stress and hormonal imbalances. Make sure you are well hydrated days before your cycle starts, and keep your pain relievers ready.
Many women also find that using heat compress and sipping herbal tea with anti-inflammatory properties like chamomile, ginger, and peppermint may help ease the pain.
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