Pain across the abdominal region and the back that occurs before and during the menstrual periods is referred to as menstrual cramps. The pain may range from mild to severe, and it can vary depending on the individual. Menstrual cramps are generally seen in girls who are overweight or obese. Those who use alcohol or smoke also have a higher risk of having this pain. These cramps are generally caused by the chemical called prostaglandins.
Anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen and ketoprofen, block the effect of prostaglandins and reduce the pain associated with menstruation. This medication should be taken before the start of a woman's period, and continued for some time. A woman may have to undergo a trial and error period to figure out what medication is best for her body. These medications are taken best with the meals to avoid an upset stomach.
Other common remedies for menstrual pain include:
- Applying a heating pad on the pelvic area.
- Limiting the consumption fat content in one's diet.
- Calcium supplements.
- Massaging the lower abdomen.
- Regular exercise.
- Birth control pills, injections, and transdermal patches to reduce bleeding and pain experienced during menstruation.
- Acupuncture is an alternative method for controlling the pain during this time.
- Chamomile tea, said to be beneficial in some studies, as another option to relieve cramps.
- Chinese herbal medicines can be used to control pain, according to some experts.
- Yoga, meditation, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation are also used to relieve pain.
In most cases, menstrual cramps can be prevented to a certain extent.
Some preventative measures include:
- Limiting the consumption of alcohol and fat.
- Including more of fruits and vegetables in one's diet.
- Limiting the consumption of caffeine, salt, and sweets.
- Reduce stress.
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid excessive drinking.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
For heavy and painful bleeding, endometrial ablation may be required. In this procedure, the lining of uterus is burned, or vaporized, using a heat-generating device.
Anti-inflammatory medications are most effective to relieve menstrual cramps, followed by hormonal birth control medications and devices. However, in some cases the severity of cramps decrease with age. In many women, the pain and severity of cramps decreases or disappears after their first pregnancy.
- Birth control is commonly used to manage the pain of menstrual cramps in women.
- After women give birth, it is possible for them to never have menstrual cramps again.