Half of women experience dysmenorrhea, or menstrual pain
Dysmenorrhea affects more than half of all women who are menstruating at least one or two days of each menstrual cycle. Some pain is considered normal, but women who experience a great deal of pain should consult our Round Rock obgyns. There are two types of dysmenorrhea – primary and secondary.
Primary dysmenorrhea refers to menstrual pain or cramps that usually occur at the beginning of a woman’s period and last a day or two. The pain should decrease in the middle and latter part of the period since the pain is caused by an increase in prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are natural chemicals produced in the uterine lining that rise and peak at the beginning of a period and begin to decrease as the period progresses and ends. Most women experience primary dysmenorrhea as young women, and it may continue as long as they are menstruating.
The good news is that many women who experience primary dysmenorrhea notice that it diminishes as they age or after childbirth.
Secondary dysmenorrhea usually develops in women who have previously had normal periods. The pain from secondary dysmenorrhea lasts longer than primary dysmenorrhea pain. This pain may start later during the period and get worse as the period progresses. It also may not decrease or diminish when a woman’s period ends.
It is important to make an appointment with our Round Rock obgyns if this type of pain occurs because it is caused by some type of disorder. Possible causes include:
- Ovarian cysts
- Problems with the uterine lining
Diagnosis and treatment
When a woman consults with our Round Rock obgyns about dysmenorrhea, we begin by taking a complete medical history, including a discussion of a woman’s symptoms. We also perform a pelvic examination and may also perform an ultrasound examination or a laparoscopy.
Primary dysmenorrhea can usually be treated at home with heating pads applied to the abdomen and over-the-counter NSAIDs such as ibuprofen.
Secondary dysmenorrhea may require prescription medications such as birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progestin. This treatment can also be provided by the birth control patch and vaginal ring.
If a woman is diagnosed with endometriosis, our Round Rock obgyns may prescribe gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists or the birth control implant or hormonal IUD.
In the case of fibroids, we may perform an outpatient procedure called uterine artery embolization or UAE.
In severe cases of dysmenorrhea when previous treatments have not provided results, our Round Rock obgyns may suggest further surgical procedures, such as a hysterectomy.
Our goal is to help you manage the symptoms or find the underlying cause of period pain. Contact our Round Rock obgyns for help.