Many women and adolescent girls experience some degree of discomfort or pain with their menstrual cycle. It is estimated that up to 50% of women, and 90% of adolescent girls experience pain with their period; that the pain with menses is the number one reason of lost time from the workplace and school for women in their 20's (NIH, 2012). Frequently, pain with menses can be associated with headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
The pain with menses can be categorized into primary and secondary pain. Primary pain usually occurs within six months to a year after the start of her menses. Secondary menses pain is usually diagnosed later in life and related to a physiological problem within the women's reproductive system. Some common causes of secondary pain with menses can be: endometriosis, fibroids, an intrauterine device, and infection of the pelvis.
The treatment plan for painful menses is based on the cause of the pain. In order to figure out the cause of the pain your physician may order blood work, ultrasound imaging, cultures for infection, and if needed a procedure to look into your pelvis. Once a thorough work-up has been completed modifications such as heating pads, massages, drinking warm beverages, eating light frequent meals, meditation or yoga, over the counter medications, warm baths, exercise, and weigh loss may be recommended. Other treatments offered may be contraception pills, antibiotics, antidepressants, and prescription medications.
If you suffer from painful menses and observe an abnormal discharge or foul odor, develop a fever and increased or sudden pelvic pain, worsening of blood clots, or pain that develops greater than five days before menses or continues after menses call your provider immediately at (703) 858-5599 as you may be at risk for a developing problem.
Menstrual cramps are painful and a nuisance that we at Virginia Obstetrics and Gynecology would be happy to help you manage. If painful menses are inhibiting you from activities that you enjoy or altering your life please call (703) 858-5599 to schedule an appointment, we will work with you to offer you relief from your painful menses.