Dysmenorrhea is described as the pain or the discomfort in the lower abdomen that occurs before or during menstruation. The pain usually disappears after the first two days of menstruation and ranges from mild to severe. In severe cases of dysmenorrhea, it can disrupt daily activities.
Dysmenorrhea, which affects half of all the women, is also called menstrual pain. Menstrual pain should not be consumed with menstrual cramps, or the contraction of the uterus, which is the longer and more intense. Nor should menstrual pain be confused with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which is characterized by mood swings, tenderness of the breast, and caused by the change in hormonal levels of the body.
Types of Dysmenorrhea
The two main types of dysmenorrhea are primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea. They differ in cause.
- Primary Dysmenorrhea
- Menstrual pain that occur even before the onset of menstruation (also called menarche)
- Menstrual pain associated with women who have regular periods
- Of no underlying serious disease or cause in the uterus or other pelvic organs
- Secondary Dysmenorrhea (may be caused by the following)
- Uterine fibroids
- Tumor development in the uterus
- Growth of endometrial cells outside the uterus
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia, among others
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Infection of the ovaries, fallopian tubes or the uterine lining
- Stress and anxiety
Associated Symptoms of Dysmenorrhea
As previously described, dysmenorrhea is pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen. The pain is often described as dull, sharp, burning, shooting or throbbing. The other symptoms associated with dysmenorrhea include:
- Pain in the lower back or in the hips
- Pain that radiates to the lower thigh
- Hypersensitivity to light, smell, sound and touch
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feeling bloated
- In more severe cases, loose stools and syncope (fainting) may occur
First Aid Treatment for Dysmenorrhea
The main purpose of applying first aid for dysmenorrhea is to alleviate pain and discomfort. The following steps may be done to fulfill these goals:
- Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and buscopan. However, some side effects may manifest, such as nausea and diarrhea. It is best to take these medicines before the onset of menstruation.
- In some cases, hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills, are also prescribed to ease pain.
- Apply heating pads or hot water bottles on the lower abdomen, just a few inches below the navel. Do not fall asleep with the heating pad on the abdomen.
- If possible, take warm showers only.
- Drink warm beverages and avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Engage in stress-reducing activities, such as meditation and yoga. Do gentle circular massages on the lower abdomen using the fingertips.
- Get enough rest and sleep, especially when period is approaching.
- Perform regular exercise.
Although dysmenorrhea is not serious, it is still important to administer first aid to ease pain. To learn how to alleviate pain of dysmenorrhea and other sorts of pain, enroll in First Aid Courses.
Dysmenorrhea pertains to the pain in the lower abdomen that occurs before or during a menstruation. Dysmenorrhea is also called menstrual pain.