Menstrual Pain (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
What are menstrual cramps?
What causes menstrual cramps?
Menstrual cramps or primary dysmenorrhea occurs in the absence of any significant pathologic cause for the pain. This type of menstrual pain is most commonly seen in young women during the years following the onset of menstruation.
Secondary dysmenorrhea refers to painful menstrual cramps that occur as a result of a true pathological condition (for example, endometriosis). This condition is more commonly seen in older women (30-45 years of age).
Prostaglandins and menstrual pain: Prostaglandins are chemicals that a woman's body produces that cause many of the symptoms associated with menstrual discomfort. The tissue that lines the uterus (endometrium) produces these chemicals, and they are released with the onset of menses when the uterine lining breaks down. Prostaglandins stimulate the uterine muscle to contract. Women who have high levels of prostaglandins experience more intense contractions of their uterus, and these produce more pain. Prostaglandins also may be responsible for vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches that frequently accompany painful periods.
What causes secondary dysmenorrhea?
Other menstrual-type pain or secondary dysmenorrhea can be caused by conditions of the reproductive tract, such as the following:
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/4/2016
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