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  Menstrual cramp

Menstrual Cramps are uterine contractions that occur right before and during menstruation. More than fifty percent of women experience menstrual cramps. Of that fifty percent, fifteen percent of women suffer from sever menstrual cramping. The medical term for menstrual cramps is dysmenorrhea.

Menstrual cramp
Menstrual cramp


Dysmenorrhea has two classifications, primary and secondary. Primary dysmenorrhea has no underlying gynecologic cause, beginning with the onset of female maturity. Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by an underlying abnormal condition and usually develops later on in life.

Cause
Menstrual cramps are caused by severe muscle contractions of the uterus. Each month the uterus produces a lining in preparation for pregnancy or the implantation of a fertilized egg. When an egg is not fertilized, the hormones, estrogen and progesterone decrease and the lining of the uterus swells and begins to ‘die.’ The uterus lining begins to break down and prostaglandins are released. These compounds cause the muscles to contract, constricting blood supply to the lining causing it to break down even more. The uterus contracts to expel the old lining or endometrial tissue through the cervix and the vagina.

Painful cramping is caused by clots or bloody tissues pass through the cervix. Women with painful menstrual cramps have higher prostaglandin blood levels. These painful cramps have been compared to labor – especially prostaglandin induced labor. Women with painful cramps have a prostaglandin level five to fifteen times higher than women who do not have such painful cramps.

Secondary dysmenorrhea can be caused by a variety of gynecological conditions. Here are six possible causes of secondary dysmenorrhea:

Endometriosis is a condition in which cells from the uterine lining migrate from the uterus and attach to other organs in the abdomen.

Uterine Fibroids are non-cancerous growths inside and on the uterus.

Adenomyosis is a benign condition in which uterine lining cells penetrate the muscular wall of the uterus

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Adhesions – abnormal fibrous attachments between organs such as the ovaries and uterus IUD or Inter Uterine Device, used for contraception may also cause secondary dysmenorrhea

These conditions or causes of secondary dysmenorrhea must first be determined by a physician. Treatment for secondary dysmenorrhea is based on the cause – and varies from hormonal therapy to surgery.

Any sudden changes in menstrual cramps such as duration, area in abdomen or severity should be discussed with a physician as soon as possible.

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