Why Does My Period Hurt? Written by Dr. Seyedeh Neda Mozaffari, ND.
Painful periods or menstrual cramps are medically known as dysmenorrhea. This pain may be severe enough to cause some women to skip work or school occasionally. In this article, we try to discuss some common characteristics of dysmenorrhea, possible common root causes, differential diagnosis, diagnostic tests, risk factors, red flags, complications, and naturopathic general approach to dysmenorrhea.
Some common characteristics of dysmenorrhea include, but not limited to:
This pain is usually described as crampy lower abdominal pain, which may travel to the lower back or thigh. Generally, the onset of dysmenorrhea begins between 1 and 3 days before the start of menses, and it may reach its peak one day after your period begins and will gradually decrease over the next 2 to 3 days.
Some other associated symptoms may accompany dysmenorrhea:
Some common possible root causes of dysmenorrhea include, but not limited to:
Hormonal imbalances might be associated with some pelvic organ pathologies
A higher level of prostaglandins
Some pelvic organ pathologies that might be associated with dysmenorrhea include but not limited to:
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Some common diagnostic tests for dysmenorrhea include but not limited to:
Female reproductive hormonal blood test
If indicated, other imaging studies such as CT, MRI, or X-ray
Some risk factors that might be associated with developing dysmenorrhea, include but not limited to:
Being younger than 30 years old
Early puberty, younger than 11 years old
A family history of dysmenorrhea
Being a smoker
Please try to see your medical doctor if:
Your menstrual cramps interfere with your daily life activities for each menstrual cycle
Your pain is getting worse every cycle
If you are older than 25 years old and have just started to experience severe menstrual cramps
Some possible complications of dysmenorrhea:
In general, dysmenorrhea would not cause any medical complications. However, it may affect the quality of life by interfering with social activities, work, and school.
Also, some types of dysmenorrhea associated with pelvic organ pathologies such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and pelvic inflammatory disease may affect fertility in women of reproductive age.
Naturopathic General Approach to Dysmenorrhea:
Naturopathic Doctors try to identify the root causes of your pain. They apply some diagnostic tools, such as taking a focused gynecological history, conducting physical exams, ordering some blood tests, or referring you to your family physician to do a specific blood test and imaging or a pelvic exam if needed. In addition, they assess your mental and emotional symptoms and your diet to treat you as a whole person. Your naturopath discusses with you her naturopathic assessment, and provides you with an appropriate individualized treatment plan through natural therapies accordingly.
Please note that the above information (including the image) is written for educational purposes only and should not replace any medical advice from your primary healthcare provider. Also, this information should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment.