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Menstrual Pain (cont.)

Menstrual Cramps Causes

Primary dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) occurs in the absence of any anatomic abnormalities or causes for the pain. This type of painful menstruation is most often seen in young women in the years following the onset of menstruation.

Secondary dysmenorrhea refers to painful menstrual cramps that occur as the result of another medical condition such as endometriosis. This condition most commonly occurs in older women (30-45 years of age).

Prostaglandins are chemicals a woman's body produces that cause many of the symptoms associated with menstrual discomfort. The tissue that lines the uterus makes these chemicals. Prostaglandins stimulate the uterine muscles to contract. Women who have high levels of prostaglandin experience more intense contractions of their uterus and more pain. Prostaglandins may also be responsible for vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches that accompany painful periods.

Other menstrual-type pain or secondary dysmenorrhea can be caused by conditions of the reproductive tract, such as the following:

  • Endometriosis: uterine tissue that appears outside the uterus
  • Fibroids: non-cancerous (benign) growths in the uterus
  • Adenomyosis: migration of endometrial cells into the muscle wall of the uterus
  • Infections: infections in the reproductive organs
  • Ectopic pregnancy: (pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus such as in the Fallopian tubes)
  • IUD (intra-uterine device) used for birth control
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Narrow cervix: (cramps due to passing clots of blood and tissue through the cervix during menses)
  • Retroverted uterus (tipped uterus)
  • Stress
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/12/2014

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Dysmenorrhea »

Dysmenorrhea is defined as difficult menstrual flow or painful menstruation.

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