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Menstrual Pain (cont.)

Which specialties of doctors treat menstrual cramps?

Although many primary care doctors can treat menstrual cramps, women with more severe symptoms may require consultation with an OB/GYN or surgeon.

How is the cause of severe menstrual cramps diagnosed?

The health-care professional will take a detailed medical history, and will inquire specifically about the menstrual cramps and related symptoms. A woman should anticipate questions regarding:

  • The timing of the cramps in relation to the start of the menstrual period
  • Type and duration of pain
  • The age when the cramps first began and age of the onset of menstruation
  • Any recent change in the pain
  • History of irregular periods
  • Any unusual vaginal discharge
  • Any history of pain with intercourse
  • Infertility
  • Any history of pelvic infections
  • Current medications including birth control measures

The doctor will perform a pelvic exam to explore any problems. If there are concerns in regard to a possible infection, a culture of the cervix and a blood test may confirm the diagnosis. Additional tests may be ordered.

  • The doctor may order a pregnancy test if the menstrual periods are irregular, or if the woman is not using birth control on a regular basis.
  • An ultrasound examination is necessary if the doctor discovers any abnormal masses during the pelvic exam. The doctor also may order special imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), if a pelvic ultrasound is not helpful.
  • A doctor may perform a laparoscopy, a minor surgical procedure allowing the doctor to look directly into the pelvic cavity with a fiber-optic scope.
  • A hysteroscopy is another possible procedure. By inserting a hysteroscope (lighted instrument) through the cervix, a doctor can visualize the cervix and interior of the uterus.

Some of above tests may assist in ruling out certain causes of menstrual pain and cramping such as an ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or other abnormalities.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/4/2016

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