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Menstrual Cramps

Definition:

Menstrual cramps: Cramping in the lower abdomen, usually in the first or second day of the menstrual cycle, that is caused by contractions of the uterus as it expels its unneeded contents and by the passage of clotted blood through the cervix. Ibuprofen or other pain relievers can reduce the severity of menstrual cramps, and some women report that exercise is also helpful. Severe menstrual cramps, particularly if paired with excessive bleeding or passage of large blood clots, can occasionally be a sign of endometriosis or other disorders of the female reproductive tract. Also known as dysmenorrhea

Signs & Symptoms:

Symptoms of menstrual cramps include:

Throbbing or cramping pain in your lower abdomen that may be intense

Dull, constant ache

Pain that radiates to your lower back and thighs

Some women also experience:

Nausea

Loose stools

Headache

Dizziness

Cause:

During your menstrual period, your uterus contracts to help expel its lining. Hormone-like substances (prostaglandins) involved in pain and inflammation trigger the uterine muscle contractions. Higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with more-severe menstrual cramps.

Severe contractions may constrict the blood vessels feeding the uterus. The resulting pain can be compared to the chest pain that occurs when blocked blood vessels starve portions of the heart of food and oxygen.

Menstrual cramps may also be caused by:

Endometriosis. In this painful condition, the tissue that lines your uterus becomes implanted outside your uterus, most commonly on your fallopian tubes, ovaries or the tissue lining your pelvis.

Uterine fibroids. These noncancerous growths in the wall of the uterus may be the cause of pain.

Adenomyosis. In this condition, the tissue that lines your uterus begins to grow into the muscular walls of the uterus.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This infection of the female reproductive organs is usually caused by sexually transmitted bacteria.

Cervical stenosis. In some women, the opening of the cervix may be so small that it impedes menstrual flow, causing a painful increase of pressure within the uterus.

How To Cure:

  1. Exercise

This might sound a little crazy and you might be thinking to yourself, I can barely move, let alone exercise. However, brisk walking, or any type of physical activity, can help to ease your belly pain. When you’re doing any type of aerobic exercise, your body is pumping more blood; this helps to release endorphins to counteract the prostaglandins and reduce your cramps. Exercising three to four times a week is good for the overall health of your body, but it is especially important if you’re prone to painful menstrual cramps.

  1. Apply heat

Heat helps to relax the contracting muscles in your uterus, which is the cause for your pain. There are many over-the-counter heating patches and pads, such as ThermaCare, Bengay, or electric, reusable ones. Or, even taking a regular plastic bottle with hot water and applying it to your abdomen is an alternative when you don’t have access to a heating pad.

  1. Drink chamomile tea

A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Chemistry found that there might be pain-relieving properties in this fragrant tea. “This is one of a growing number of studies that provide evidence that commonly used natural products really do contain chemicals that may be of medicinal value,” said Elaine Holmes, Ph.D., a chemist with the Imperial College of London. The research found that when 14 participants were given urine samples, their urinary levels had a significant increase in hippurate, which is a natural anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatory drugs help to decrease the prostaglandin production, thus relieving menstrual cramps.

 

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